“I’m truly blessed God has put me on this path to empower students to be their best selves, and it’s always amazing to see them become more than they thought possible.”
Master Ian Thokar is a fifth-degree black belt, certified ATA instructor, and owner of Bridgeport ATA Martial Arts. Since he began practicing Martial Arts in 1996, he has been a State Champion 11 times, the Northeast District Champion in 2013, and is currently ranked in the Top Ten in the World (2010-2015).
Master Thokar’s start in Martial Arts begins like that of a Hollywood coming-of-age blockbuster, when a school bully put him in a headlock on the bus in his hometown of Monroeville, Pennsylvania. “I rarely got picked on,” says Master Thokar, “but my mom and dad thought it would be a good idea to learn self-defense from a professional.” And that he did. In the following years, Master Thokar flourished at class under the tutelage of Senior Master Scott Skiles and Chief Master Michael Caruso. Then, in 2000, the family moved to Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, where Master Thokar continued to study under Senior Master Brian Shipton and his wife Master Michele Shipton. His new instructors were awed by his natural ability, physicality, and intuition for Taekwondo. They invited Master Thokar to participate in the ATA Leadership and Instructor programs. He went on to teach under Senior Master Shipton for many years.
While other teenagers were trying out many extra-curricular activities, Master Thokar continued to challenge himself on the mat. He trained every night of the week and attended as many as four classes after school, honing his skills and working toward his black belt. After graduation, Master Thokar attended Slippery Rock University and there obtained a BSBA in Healthcare Business Management.
Though Master Thokar continued to teach classes through the years, his dream was to own a school. Saving up money to do so proved difficult and tedious, though practicing Martial Arts had taught him persistence and discipline. In 2011, Master Thokar was hired as a full-time instructor at Casey’s ATA in their Morgantown location. Eventually, Master Thokar ended up running not only the classes, but also the business side of Casey’s ATA, cultivating relationships with students, parents, and the rest of the Casey’s ATA community. And, with that experience on his side, Master Thokar purchased Casey’s Bridgeport school in October of 2014, changing the name to Bridgeport ATA Martial Arts.
The heart and soul of Bridgeport ATA is first and foremost the community atmosphere. “Our students and parents are so dedicated,” says Master Thokar, “students having the support of family instills motivation to keep learning and challenging themselves.”
With a larger-than-average facility, Bridgeport ATA Martial Arts is the area’s premier Taekwondo school equipped with a 1,353-square-foot mat and state-of-the-art pads, weapons, and other equipment that is used across multiple platforms. A spacious lobby makes the perfect waiting area for parents and caretakers to sit and enjoy free Wi-Fi while observing class.
The school’s philosophy is simple: to help clients improve physically and mentally while gaining confidence and self-defense skills through Martial Arts. “Martial Arts knows no age,” says Master Thokar, “but for children, life skills like self-discipline, fitness, and goal-accomplishment make them a well-rounded and respectful individual.” Older students and adults also enjoy learning about the history and discipline of Taekwondo.
Bridgeport ATA offers regular belt testing every two months, specializing in constructive feedback, making students more confident setting goals and motivating them to practice.
Like any martial art properly taught and properly practiced, Taekwondo is a non-agressive and ethical system of self-defense.
The American Taekwondo Association (ATA) is the premier North American organization dedicated to the martial arts discipline of Taekwondo, and is the founding organization of other international affiliates that include the World Traditional Taekwondo Union (WTTU) and the Songahm Taekwondo Federation (STF). Counting both the U.S. and worldwide, our organizations have over 1,500 independently owned and operated licensed schools and clubs, and have registered over one million students since the ATA's inception in 1969.
Since the first class was taught many years ago, the focus of Songahm Taekwondo has remained the same: to provide students the highest quality martial arts instruction available in a safe and positive learning environment that people of all ages can enjoy. The instructors combine excellent student instructor ratios with state of the art training facilities. This has helped establish licensed schools and clubs as the leaders in the martial arts industry. Each instructor is a graduate of an instructor program that represents more than thirty years of research and development. He or she will be with you every step of the way to help you reach your individual goals (and maybe even reach some new goals you never before thought possible).”
Instructors train their students to the best of their ability. Some students come fit, while others have come 100 pounds overweight. Most come with limited flexibility. Adults start at any age, as we have had some adults who started as late as age 65, and have still earned their black belts. As a student, you are looked upon as an individual, never compared to anyone else. Your instructors will be there every step of the way. All that is expected is a willingness to try.
In Songahm Taekwondo, our belts reflect a member's proven level of competence and (just as importantly) the progression of colors reflects an inner journey that never truly ends. Each belt achieved is truly an accomplishment worthy of respect.