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Former PAL continues martial arts initiative

By Staff | Jul 24, 2015

A Cape Coral dojo is hoping to boost enrollment in order to avoid having to close its doors.

The Kontrol Room, a multi-system martial arts and Cobra Kai studio, is run by owner and instructor Jack Harrah. It offers classes for children and adults in an array of disciplines, as well as acrobatics and tumbling, traditional TaeKwonDo, adult kickboxing lessons, lady fit classes and even summer camp.

Harrah was the martial arts instructor for the Cape Coral Police Department’s former Youth Crime Intervention Program, which was affiliated with the Police Athletic League. Its mission was to provide at-risk and less fortunate youth with an outlet to keep them out of trouble and provide role models.

When the Youth Crime Intervention Program dissolved in 2012, the board of directors for the Police Athletic League sought for a way to keep the martial arts program alive. Harrah stepped forward.

“If they don’t have an outlet or platform to go to, where are they going to go?” he asked.

Harrah himself was an at-risk youth when he first became a student in 1996.

So, he acquired the property and equipment for a fee, with the end goal of continuing a martial arts program that was affordable but offered quality instruction, while providing youth with direction.

“Our focus is not the kids getting a black belt,” he said.

Academics, leadership skills, community volunteerism and more play a part at the dojo.

“It is guidance,” Harrah said. “Being a role model.”

Two months ago, the studio had to relocate when its building was purchased.

“We were fine until someone bought that building,” he said.

Now located off of Pine Island Road, Harrah put thousands of dollars into setting up the new dojo. With only about 40 children enrolled, he is finding it hard to make his new financial ends meet.

“With word of mouth you can only get so far,” he said.

Harrah estimated that the studio would need a minimum of 80 students total to stay open.

“We have to double what we have,” he said.

With its current programming, the Kontrol Room can handle up to 300 students.

Harrah explained that the dojo focuses on molding young adults by getting their families and even teachers involved in their training. While learning martial arts, students are required to keep a journal of their progress and present it, building organizational skills while learning to focus on their goals.

They are required to log community services hours. He explained that some students assist at Cape events like KidsFest by picking up trash or such, while others help out at their church or school.

Free tutoring is also available to help the students stay on top of their academics.

“They have to stay above the C level,” Harrah said.

Over the last couple of years, he has expanded the former public program into a private business by adding other services, such as summer camps for youth, adult lessons, lady fit classes and more.

“Now we’re involving families,” he said. “You build that family unit, it gets stronger.”

And Harrah is trying to do so, while keeping costs family-friendly. His lowest fee is $55 per month, ranging up to $95 per month for unlimited classes – which he says is up to half off the price of other area dojos. But he is against raising his fees to stay operational because it would violate the goal of accessibility for all.

“We’re focused on youths and their families,” Harrah said.

For more information, call (239) 826-9051 or visit online at: krmma.com.

The Kontrol Room is at 303 N.E. Third Ave.