How it all began, MMAG
MIDWEST MARTIAL ARTS GROUP·FRIDAY, 28 SEPTEMBER 2018
Midwest Martial Arts Group, or MMAG, was founded by Master Gary Schroeder in 1982. Master Schroeder was a full time police officer during most of his martial art experience, a career path he embarked upon after serving as a United States Marine in the Vietnam War. Gary initially taught at, and assisted with the foundation of, Chung Kim’s Black Belt Academy in Davenport, Iowa. After an amicable separation, he then opened his own school in Muscatine, IA. The program was founded so that everyone, regardless of background, social, or economic status, that had an interest could train in martial arts. Gary used all the resources available to him to keep the program free to whoever wanted to show up, in part due to his law enforcement experience, giving back to the community by keeping at-risk persons off the street and giving them something constructive to accomplish, on top of his genuine passion for martial arts.
MMAG remained a free program through the 80s and 90s, when it moved to St. Mark’s Church in Davenport, through the early 2000s. In 2008, the program was moved to the Roosevelt Community Center, only several minutes away from St. Mark’s. Regrettably, we were unable to keep the program free after relocation, but it is as inexpensive as it can be; an homage to Master Schroeder’s philosophy of money serving only to complicate relationships. Many of the instructors are volunteers and donate their time simply out of passion for the martial arts.
The culture of MMAG is very informal, and that of an extended family. This type of culture has been cultivated by Master Schroeder, coming from the traditional martial arts where at competitions you would be regarded as “’s fighter.” Gary never wanted this, instead preferring it be the individual who is recognized for their achievements and abilities. A prime example of this, to those lucky enough to have trained with him over the years, was that Master Schroeder always preferred to be called “Gary” rather than “Sensei” or “Master.”
As with all things, change is inevitable, and MMAG would face its most daunting change on December 26th, 2016, with the passing of Master Gary Schroeder. Father to Layton and Colton (current instructors at MMAG), and second father or father-figure to countless others, his legacy lives on through the lives of those he has changed by encouraging them to be a part of our martial art family. To us, martial art is not only a means of protecting yourself, staying healthy and building self-confidence. Martial art is also a way of life, and a family that, no matter how long it has been since you’ve trained, or if you never have before, you’re always welcome.
If after reading a little bit of our history you’d like to see what MMAG is all about for yourself, feel free to contact any of our instructors listed on the schedule for more information.
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