Hi, and thanks for taking the time to check out our programs! Here's some more information on me personally, the programs' chief instructor, Ben Couch.
I started training in Tae Kwon Do, in Upstate New York, in 1984 when I was 8 years old. I had been bugging my parents to do martial arts for quite some time, and that was my present for my 8th birthday. It remains the greatest present I have ever received.
I graduated from college in 1998 with a degree in English and moved to Arizona the same year to pursue my master's degree in American Literature at the University of Arizona -- I received that degree in 2001. Throughout that time, I had continued studying and progressing in Tae Kwon Do, as well as beginning my study of Aikido. Finishing my degree brought me to a crossroads in my life: what to do now? I had decided that I didn't want to pursue my doctorate and become a professor, but what else was there other than teaching? Start my own dojo? Take a job at a high school? Teach at the U of A as an adjunct?
At just about that time, I was approached by a Tae Kwon Do student who asked me about my career aspirations. A few days later, I started working part time for him developing educational programs for retirement communities based in Arizona. 20 years later, I'm one of the longest tenured employees at the company.
Back to martial arts! In 2006, my parents (who had also moved to Tucson by this time) were volunteering at the local Salvation Army and found out that location's Tae Kwon Do program was floundering: Salvation Army administration was looking for a new instructor. My parents told them I might be interested and that started a great relationship with "The Sal" that lasted for around 10 years. During that time, I met my karate teacher and decided that my students would be better suited in a karate program. We converted somewhere around 2010 from Tae Kwon Do to karate. It was the direction I was headed -- I had fallen in love with karate -- and I couldn't leave my students behind.
While I was teaching at the Salvation Army, I also started training at the Ryushinkan Dojo in Japanese jujutsu and Shin Shin Ryu swordsmanship. This kicked off a fantastic friendship with the owner. When the Salvation Army was no longer available as a venue, I moved the karate program to Ryushinkan where we remain to this day.
While all of these changes were occurring, I was introduced to the martial arts of the Kokusai Nippon Budo Kai, the organization headed by So-shihan Carl Long. After seeing his technique, his systems, his scholarship, his teachers, and his personal character, practicing his sword and jo arts (Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu and Shindo Muso Ryu respectively) became a primary practice of mine. It is an honor to be a part of the KNBK, and this honor has been extended to fellow members of the organization that practice these subtle, beautiful, and powerful arts with me here in my home city. It is a privilege to be Tucson's ambassador for these ancient arts.
The Ryushinkan Dojo provides me with a place where I can volunteer my time and focus on my craft. Because of this, I can teach in the traditional way. This frees me up to focus on the subtleties of the arts methodically and carefully. I can work with a small group of sincere students and focus exclusively on their progress.
So that's me in a nutshell. I've been training since childhood with every spare moment dedicated to martial arts. Many months out of the year I fly for a weekend or two to work with some of the best teachers in the United States to improve my knowledge and bring it back to you. I hope you'll come see what we're all about. While I strive to be humble, I also wouldn't be putting myself out there if I didn't think I have truly unique skills and arts to offer to my area of the country. I pride myself on being a good teacher who doesn't compromise. Furthering the arts is my life's work. I invite you to come be a part of this journey.
--Ben Couch, Chief Instructor
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