Changing lives through martial arts

Fifth-degree black belt celebrates 20 years in tae kwon do
By Jacquelyn Walsh ('09)

With 20 years experience in tae kwon do, Andrew Gause ('02) teaches martial arts at Mountain Kim Martial Arts.

With 20 years experience in tae kwon do, Andrew Gause ('02) teaches martial arts at Mountain Kim Martial Arts.

While a JMU freshman, Andrew Gause ('02) considered the academic paths he could pursue to reach his long-term career goal. He weighed the pros and cons of a degree in business, kinesiology and finance before settling on a B.B.A. in marketing. To reach his goal of owning his own martial arts studio, "marketing seemed like a natural fit," explains Gause.

Marketing meets martial arts

Gause, a fifth-degree black belt, has been training in tae kwon do since 1989. Throughout his childhood he practiced at Mountain Kim Martial Arts near his Falls Church home. Now, Gause owns a Mountain Kim satellite studio where he uses his experience in multiple martial arts styles to teach 300 students. Gause is a first-degree black belt in Haidong Gumdo, a martial art using swords. He also has practiced judo, hapkido, aikido, kung fu, kickboxing and kobudo.

Aaron Gause ('05), Andrew's brother, became a tae kwon do instructor at Mountain Kim after spending a year on the West Coast as a freelance musician. "Much like the industry itself, which is constantly evolving, Andrew's curriculum breathes a fresh air yet maintains an integrity that is often lost among other schools," he says.

Although Andrew Gause's original intention was to start a martial arts school from scratch, his former instructor and mentor owned two studios, the smaller of which was opened in 2001. When Gause took over the satellite school in 2004 it had 115 students. Now, five years later, it has nearly doubled in size — quite a feat for Gause, considering the close proximity of other martial arts schools that train more than 500 students. Gause knew that, demographically, there were enough people in the northern Virginia area to accommodate his school.

Award-winning, life-changing programs

As a JMU student, Gause served as treasurer of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and spent summers working as a martial arts instructor at Mountain Kim. Gause says that leadership roles in Pi Kappa Alpha helped him develop social skills that allow him to "develop rapport easily with everyone from students and their families, to other business owners and vendors."

Gause's martial arts school has received multiple awards for excellence and has been ranked in the top 5 percent in the nation. "My experiences at JMU allowed me to grow as a person in many ways," he says. "I expanded my view of the world, developed a greater appreciation of education, and my College of Business professors taught me how to think like a business person."

Gause's Mountain Kim Martial Arts studio teaches martial arts classes for all ages. The afterschool program engages children in tae kwon do and then provides structured "downtime" for homework and quiet activities. These programs help children "gain the benefits of discipline, respect and confidence," says Gause. "My martial arts school allows me to help change people's lives, and I feel like I am passing on what was given to me."