Matt Numrich has come a long way since he started teaching Jeet Kune Do in his basement.
Numrich now owns two Jeet Kune Do (JKD) studios called Elite Defense Systems — one in Bloomingdale, and one in Rockford — and the studio offers self defense classes for youth and adults in Addison. JKD is a tad different than other martial arts styles, because it accounts for every area of self-defense instead of focusing on one minuscule part of the activity.
“I explain it as: Picture that you have to send your child to one of two schools,” Numrich said. “One just teaches math from sun up to sun down. The second teaches math, science and reading. What kind of school would you want your child to go to?”
Numrich has been teaching this program for around 18 years, which originated as small classes in his basement. The classes and popularity grew, and Numrich found himself with two different locations for his classes.
Numrich admits getting into JKD was a fluke — most people starting doing martial arts at a young age, but he didn’t get into it until the end of high school.
Numrich played high school basketball, football and baseball, and even was on the football team at Concordia University.
“I think what drove me to JKD was that I’ve always been into sports and this was a big change compared to the team sports that I played all my life,” Numrich said. “It’s a change of pace and you get the best of both worlds between team sports and individual sports.”
As in most sports, in martial arts, you are with people you have to get along with and work together with during practice. However, Numrich believes the results are completely up to the martial arts student.
“You can’t ride the coattails of anyone,” he said. ”Like losing weight and gaining confidence, they’re not going to get those milestones unless they put in their own effort.”
Numrich urges people not to be intimidated by the “martial arts” title, because anyone can participate in the class. He says around 80 to 90 percent of people in his classes have never had any form of martial arts training before they take his classes. He currently has students in their 60s and 70s and has some as young as four.
The classes are small, with around 12 people in each one, which helps Numrich and his other instructors give individual attention to their students. Each class is also divided up by skill level so that students can face opponents at equal skill levels.
Numrich’s five and seven-year old kids are both training at Elite Defense Systems, hoping to pick up on some of their father’s abilities.
“It’s a weird feeling,” he said. “I’ve been teaching for almost 20 years, and now I get to look out and see my kids. Things are coming full circle.”