One of my goals in the Counterpoint Tactical System (CTS) is to visit each of the schools of my CTS family. Unfortunately, those plans have been pushed out to the future; so, I decided to take a virtual tour of the schools, and the blog is coming along with me. Over the next few weeks, we’ll travel to different states and schools that share a passion for CTS.
The first stop is one of the clubs that I’ve actually visited. Located in Pittsburgh, PA, the Ryer Martial Arts Academy is the product of Josh Ryer’s years of hard work. It has the largest student population of all of the CTS schools.
The Ryer Academy is built around two basic pillars: martial arts and fitness. The school has self defense programs available for all ages. Mr. Ryer describes what is offered at his school, “Our Pre-School Program is for kids three to five; the Youth Program is for kids six and up; and then our Adult Program. In each program we teach the Counterpoint Tactical System, a reality-based martial arts system that gives members the skills to protect themselves in all self defense situations.” But the school teaches more than just self defense. Students also learn patience, discipline, and confidence, which provide a good foundation for anyone’s self esteem. These traits and attitudes are always on display in the students of the academy. The youth programs teach foundational skills that will help the students develop into well rounded adults.
The Ryer academy hosts Master Zach Whitson three times a year for Filipino Martial Arts camps. The students test for rank in Counterpoint Tactical Systems and Cacoy Doce Pares under Master Whitson. I attended the 2012 Pittsburgh Filipino Martial Arts camp. The school is beautiful, spacious, and welcoming. My favorite part of the Ryer academy is the black belt wall, where Josh Ryer posts photographs of each of his school’s black belts. It’s a nice touch for the students who work hard and achieve their goal.
The Ryer academy offers a variety of fitness options as well. Crossfit and cardio kickboxing are available for anyone looking to get into shape.
Josh Ryer is the head instructor and owner. He is the highest ranking student of Counterpoint Tactical Systems under Master Zach Whitson. In addition to CTS, Josh is an accomplished martial artist in Cacoy Doce Pares, American Kenpo Karate, and Brazillian Jiu Jitsu. He’s also a Crossfit coach and a personal trainer. Josh’s most recent focus has been on Anti-Bullying efforts as Pittsburgh’s bully expert.
I first met Josh at the 2010 Iron Mountain Camp. Josh is an intense, focused, and professional martial artist, who is always willing to help. In the short amount of time I’ve spent with Mr. Ryer, I’ve seen him offer advice on developing clubs, give out encouraging comments when they’re most needed, and lead by example. Like all of the CTS instructors, Josh lives out the lessons that he teaches. His dedication to his students is the secret of his success. The programs at his school “…are designed to be vehicles to guide members to lead the highest quality of life.” His dedication to CTS and personal improvement is evident in the school he’s built and the students he’s trained.
The Ryer academy has a large student population from white belt all the way up to second degree black belt. Josh says that the “Ryer Academy provides a unique environment of supportive instructors and fellow members to teach you the very best in martial arts.” This is noticeable when you interact with any of the students. The sense of community is evident when the group gets together. After one night of the 2012 Pittsburgh Filipino Martial Arts camp that I attended, a family had the seminar attendees over to their house for dinner. The place builds friendships as well as martial artists. Jessica Levine, 1st class brown belt, went to Ryer looking for a place to work out, and “six years later…I have found myself as part of a family, filled with passion for learning and growing as individuals, passion for developing as martial artists and a genuine collaboration between so many different people to stay active and give back to the larger community.”
This sentiment is also a part of the instructor’s mindset. Evan Ringle, who teaches Youth Martial Arts, says, “First and foremost, Ryer Academy stands alone in terms of the quality of martial arts training available in Pittsburgh, but there is also a sense of community, a willingness to share knowledge and expertise openly, so that students and instructors learn and grow together, as equals, unencumbered by the pettiness of ego.” Improvement is for everyone seems to be the academy’s unofficial motto. Talking to the members of the Ryer Martial Arts Academy, the sense of community is ever present. The Ryer academy is more than just a martial arts school; it’s a family.
The 2013 Winter Martial Arts Workshop with Master Whitson is scheduled for November 21st through 24th. Click the diamond below to visit the website and sign up for the Winter Workshop or to take a class.