About Our Class

What is Zen Martial Arts?

The Zen Martial Arts is an inclusive and ever-growing system with a collection of martial arts practices and traditions, both young and old, that promote the development of the body, mind, and spirit of each practitioner.

The system now exists as a collection of practices and traditions that have been derived from multiple martial art styles including Taekwondo, Karate, Judo, Jujitsu, Wing Chun, and Arnis. Its curriculum is intended to provide well-rounded martial arts training to anyone who takes part in the practice.

If you would like to read more about the history of the Zen Martial Arts and its origin, you can find that information on our History page.

What is the class environment like?

We believe that the martial arts is for anyone and are committed to providing training that fits every skill level, background, and body type. At Zen Martial Arts International NW, we have a multi-generational class with students of many ages and levels within our system. We not only practice martial arts techniques, but also seek to develop skills such as focus, discipline, respect, patience, perseverance, and encouragement. We talk about when is and isn't a time to fight. We help each other gain control over our emotions and learn how to defuse dangerous situations.

We believe that encouraging and building people up is the best way to teach. Our classes are friendly and safe environments where people can help each other progress and will encourage each other in it.

You will not need to worry about the superstitions and religions that are sometimes associated with martial arts practice. We teach Martial Arts for the purpose of developing ourselves physically and mentally, becoming the best versions of ourselves through exploring what the martial arts and its community has to offer us.

What happens in class?

Our classes differ depending on the day of the week and the topic specified for each class. To see the plan for upcoming classes, check out our Class Schedule spreadsheet.

Tuesday Classes

Tuesday classes are the main class of each week. Often multiple instructors and teaching assistants will be present and practice will follow a regular itinerary as listed below.

6:00-6:10 PM | Setting up class space and cleaning as needed

6:10-6:30 PM | Warmups, stretches, and a wellness exercise

6:30-7:30 PM | Full class practice on the designated class topic (often families with younger students choose to leave after this first hour)

7:30-8:30 PM | A more advanced continuation of practice or breakout sessions to work in smaller groups on different topics

8:30-9:00 PM | Instructor training and practice time (students can stick around to continue practicing in the space)

Thursday Office Hours

Thursday evenings from 6-8 PM are Master Swartwood's office hours. There is a sign-up form linked in the Class Schedule spreadsheet with more information for each week.

Saturday Classes

Saturday classes are open practices. Students should feel free to arrive late or leave early as needed. An instructor will be there to answer questions, provide feedback or instruction, and fill in as a practice partner when it would be helpful.

What is the belt system used in the school?

The belt system used in the ZMA has three options for students to progress through depending on what suits them best: the standard path, the junior belts, and the honorary ranks. As the name suggests, the standard path is the main curriculum for ZMA which ranges from student ranks (10th-1st Kyū) through to the instructor ranks (1st-9th Dan). The junior path takes the first few color belts in the standard system and breaks them down into smaller chunks. This system is intended for anyone below the age of 13. Upon completing the junior path or growing out of it, students can seamlessly transition into the standard path by testing forward. The honorary ranks include three levels of gray belt that represent the completion of a section in the standard curriculum. These belts are earned by those who are not interested in testing at this stage in their martial arts journey by merit of their time in class and clear skill progression. There are also three honorary titles that instructors can earn in addition to their dan rank: renshi, kyoshi, and hanshi. The Renshi (master) title is awarded to masters with 5+ years of instructorship and at least one black belt student. Kyoshi (experienced master) is awarded to masters with 15+ years of instructorship and at least three black belt students. Hanshi (grandmaster) is awarded to masters with 30+ years of instructorship and at least one student with the Renshi title.

How much does membership cost?

Instructors at ZMAINW are all volunteers, including the owner of the school, Greg Di Loreto. The martial arts to us is not a job, but an opportunity to share our knowledge and practice with the community. The money that we receive from students goes into the class account and is used to pay for liability insurance, new martial arts equipment for the school, and occasionally to sponsor the martial arts studies of practitioners who practice outside of the school for the purpose of bringing a new perspective to their Zen Martial Arts training. Our financial information is open-book for anyone in our school who may be interested in looking through it.

We allow each individual or family to pay as they are able. The default cost for membership in the school is $50 per month for one person or $75 per month for a family. We strongly believe that the martial arts should be for everyone, regardless of their financial ability, so we are more than happy to waive the fee for those who need that support. Please feel free to communicate with us if you have any questions or concerns.

We will also never charge extra for promotions. In the Zen Martial Arts, your belts must earned, not bought. Each new belt you receive is purchased with the class funds as a gift from the instructors to you.