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New martial arts studio leaps into Gardnerville

by Sharlene Irete

High Desert Martial Arts owner Mike Bern teaches his students that martial arts are not about fighting.

“The arts are for health and well-being, not about fighting,” said Bern. “We never condone fighting – it’s not a part of it. Self-defense is used only if you don’t have a choice. Jujitsu helps you learn to set goals and to de-stress. It keeps you alert, calm and healthy. It gives you a sense of accomplishment.”



High Desert Martial Arts is a member of the American Jujitsu Institute. Formed in 1939, it’s the oldest jujitsu organization in the U.S. Both instructors, Bern and Gardnerville chiropractor Craig Black, hold second-degree black belts.

Bern instructs the Kempo Jujitsu discipline that uses hard and soft techniques.



“There’s no one perfect art,” he said. “People use various techniques to accomplish the tasks at hand and not just one discipline. We’re the most successful when we stay open-minded and use the tools at hand in an improvisational manner.”

Bern has lived in Gardnerville for five years and at Lake Tahoe for 28 years. He works as a mechanic for the department of transportation in El Dorado County. He was a student and instructor at Kempo Karate of Lake Tahoe, but after the school closed, he and his friends operated out of his garage for 11Ú2 years. He opened High Desert Martial Arts because he wanted a place to work out and pass on what he learns. He continues his jujitsu education at a dojo in Reno.

“To learn and teach – that’s my greatest goal,” said Bern. “There’s no sense learning anything if you’re not going to train and use it and pass it on to others.”

High Desert Martial Arts features teen through adult classes 6-7:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, and from 5-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Bern said women’s self-defense clinics can be organized and additional classes will be added as demand grows.

“You just need to ask,” he said. “We have structured classes: We train for warm-up and practice repetitions, but we experiment with techniques. There’s flexibility to my classes. They’re geared to who’s here and I’m open for suggestions on the schedule.

“Bring a couple of people with you, try it and see if you like it,” said Bern. “You can organize a class just for women. Small or large businesses can organize a de-stressing clinic, at your job site or at High Desert Martial Arts.

“Come in, beat up on the bags and learn some basic self-defense moves. You’ll never know you like it unless you start,” he said.

High Desert Martial Arts is at 1434 B Industrial Way, Suite 3, Gardnerville. Call 220-1049 for more information.

What: High Desert Martial Arts

Where: 1434 B Industrial Way, Suite 3, Gardnerville

When: 6-7:30 p.m. Monday and Wednesday, 5-6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday

Info: 220-1049