“I was born a teacher. I think I was born to share things I’ve learned, and when you’re excited about something you want to share it anyway. And when you have someone who is interested in learning, even better. I really like that role – the mentor-student role is very important in my life.”
When Emerson Doyle was growing up in South Arlington, he turned his parent’s basement into a small martial arts studio, complete with punching bags, sand weights and a mirror. With his neighborhood friends, he trained using techniques from books, movies and anything he could find by his hero Bruce Lee.
By the time he turned 15, his parents could afford tuition for him to attend legitimate Tae Kwon Do classes. There his self-taught skills were bolstered by formal training from a master martial artist. He trained twice a day, competed, taught younger students, and earned his black belt in just two years.
During a year living in Florida, Emerson experimented with a variety of martial arts, and also started tricking – a form of martial arts that link together chains of acrobatic kicks, flips in combination. When he returned to Arlington after completing high school, the took on the role of head instructor at a Tae Kwon Do school, and he shared his love for tricking with a few students, to include Christian Mejia, EvolveAll’s head youth martial arts instructor.
As the head instructor, Emerson bristled at his strict and traditional Tae Kwon Do training. So he launched Creative Martial Arts in 2010 to teach his own brand of martial arts and tricking to teenagers.
“From the beginning we have never been a traditional martial arts school, and I’m proud of that,” Emerson stressed. “We don’t tell students what to do and how to act. Our approach is leading the kids and letting them figure things out. “We’re allowed to have fun in class here! And show support for each other. It’s very important to me that I continue to create a place where people feel safe to be themselves, face challenges and grow together, and of course enjoy their time here.”
After many rejections and failed starts, Emerson’s first big break came in 2009 when the owner of White Birch Kung Fu School on Columbia Pike rented Emerson his space for an hour or two each day, and that would be the first of several homes for Emerson’s dream on Columbia Pike. Read our story here.
Today, EvolveAll’s modern and beautiful space on Columbia Pike symbolizes Emerson’s commitment to the community that continues to support him, and his desire to offer a space for members to grow, challenge and support each other.
The future? Emerson is encouraging his team of leaders and teachers to grow the community he started in that small sub-leased space just down the road on Columbia Pike – many of which were students back then. Emerson’s vision for building a strong community with martial arts as its core, has been realized. He has created a beautiful space for people to gather, build connections, challenge and support each other. He is home.
But for anyone that knows him, it doesn’t stop here…