Premier Martial Arts: The Man Behind the Mission

Premier Martial Arts: The Man Behind the Mission

If you’ve lived in Abilenefor any length of time, have children or have driven down S. 14thStreet, then you have seen or heard of Premier Martial Arts Owned by James E. Cox.While he was originally born in Odessa Texas, he has lived most of his lifehere in Abilene. He has successfully owned and operated Abilene Kajukembo/PremierMartial Arts for 20 years now! “My mission has always been to be the bestpossible martial artist, instructor, and school owner, while empowering thelives of others along the way. To bemore “complete” and well-rounded, I have traveled to countless seminars andcertification courses to learn from other styles and instructors.” SaysCox. Cox certainly aims high forachievement and inspires his students to do the same. “I run a full-time school of over 250 activestudents, with 86 Black Belts that I have promoted to date as well as manage asuccessful MMA fight team.” James adds.With all that he has achieved with his business and in life he realizesthat a person still has a choice, and thus the consequences or benefits thataccompany that choice. He mentions,”Although a few of my black belts have “missed the message” or “forgotten theirroots” over the years, I refuse to let those deter my desire to teach studentsto be superior martial artists-to train in labor, to strive for purity of mind,body, and spirit, as our class motto states.”Cox knows that it’s not simplyabout winning a fight that counts it’s about building relationships with thosehe teaches. Premier’s mission extendsfarther than just that.{{more}} He tells that, “Thequality of my students’ skills and their understanding of the martial arts”journey” is far more important to me than money or rank.” He is however veryproud of his highest-ranking students and mentions them as Claude Lawson,Curtis Chambers, Tony Forbis Stokes and Sheryl Andrews. All of who have trainedunder him for more than 20 years. Cox’spassion for the arts and unrelenting dedication to his teaching did not justhappen overnight. Those who are gifted with greatness have often come from apath of hardship. James grew up a familyvery much like the ones that kids live with today. Cox is the youngest of 5sisters and one brother. “I was raised by my mother in a single-parent homewhere, through tough times, I learned to be positive and appreciate the smallerthings in life.” explains Cox. He hopesto mimic the role of mentor to those who come under his instruction and guidance. He understands the role of importance that itcan play in one’s life. Cox tells thatin 1985 at the age of 15, like many today he was a troubled teen. Had it not been for the neighbors in hiscommunity, he would not be where he is today. Cox tells where it all began for him, “I wasinvited to a martial arts class at the local recreation center by Michael andStephanie Benavidez, friends and neighbors of mine at the time.”Cox referred tothat experience as being both humbling and gratifying. ” I had no “natural talent” and the trainingwas difficult , but I had fun.” He tells. In essence it became a challenge for him, onein which he had a desire to conquer. That was a pivotal moment in his life. Cox feels that, “The focus and discipline ittook to succeed in martial arts gave me a positive outlook that soon replacedthe negative lifestyle I was living. By the grace of God, I can honestly saythat martial arts saved my life and provided me with a future and a hope.”Afuture and hope that all kids need, and one that is being demonstrated andpassed along to his students at Premier Martial Arts. Jamestells that his original instructor was Patrick McDaniel. He describes him as acharismatic and creative man who was to Cox, both a teacher and a fatherfigure. “He grew a martial artscommunity from the seed that George Jackson planted when he first broughtKajukembo to Abilene in the mid- 1970’s.” Cox says about McDaniel. At the young age of 15 years old, the doorsbegan to open up for him soon after he began training under McDaniel. Cox said that after just a few short monthsof training, he began traveling with the team and competing in open tournamentsthroughout Texas and surrounding states.McDaniel quickly identified the leadership potential in Cox and empoweredhim to use it. James explained that as an orange belt he began assistingMcDaniel in teaching classes and that in 1987, as a brown belt he was delegatedthe responsibility of teaching his own classes at the YMCA. Cox felt that,”This proved to be an invaluable experience as it was a powerfulposition for a 17 year old to be honored with.”McDaniel gave Cox a responsibility that empowered him to see his valueand worth to the Arts and as an individual.He said that the experience taught him a lot and adds, “I had to quicklylearn what it meant to be a leader, an example, an educator, and anentrepreneur.” All of which he has done quite well. Just one year later in 1988,Cox received his first-degree black belt and graduated from Abilene HighSchool. In 1992,Cox opened his first full-time karate school where he promoted McDaniel’s”Noble Method” within the Kajukembo system. He says that this method wasdesigned by McDaniel in 1990 and perfected by the both of them. “We sought to advance the basics by focusingon vital point striking and the martial artist’s attitude.” He adds. After only six years of having opened hisschool, he would learn the greatest life-lesson about attitude and the desireto live. In 1998 Cox was in alife-threatening automobile accident and spent a week in ICU. In describing the accident he said “Isuffered head injuries, extensive internal injuries, and underwent threedifferent knee surgeries as a result.”James tells that at one point his heart even stopped. The doctors weren’t sure if he would evenwalk again, much less compete and train in the martial arts. One thing that he did have and had always had,was a strong mind and will to make it. This presented to him another challenge,one in which to conquer. In the midstof that storm Cox says, “…but I had no doubt and even competed at a NationalKarate tournament only six months later after some of the most intense trainingof my life and won Grand Champion in fighting.”He recalls. Another day for Coxis another challenge. From 1994-2004 he took private boxing classes fromprofessional trainer Jesse Cantu. This was done purely out of a passion develophis boxing skills. In stating why Coxexplains, “I learned extensively about “toe to toe” fighting, physical andmental strength, and fight philosophy.” The list goes on and on for the numberof Accomplishments, Awards and Accolades that James E. Cox has received. In 2007,he and his wife changed the name of the business from Abilene Kajukembo toPremier Martial Arts. In stating whyJames explains, “Premier is a successful school licensing program that servesto advance our curriculum by implementing a more modern approach to the mixedmartial arts.” Premier also focuses onproviding school owners with a professional and marketable, business image,along with consulting support. Cox saidthat one of the best parts of being an instructor is being able to teach hisown children and passing along the life benefits of martial arts. In describingwhat teaching martial arts means to him he tells, “It is rewarding topositively shape the characters and change the lives of so many people on adaily basis, and for that, I am truly thankful. ” He says that all of his experiencesthroughout the years have become both his knowledge and power. “I try to be happy without cause and make themost of what I have and I hope to build a better tomorrow while living each dayas if it were my last.” says Cox and he ends with saying, “thoughts becomethings, so always think positive!” He is certainly someone who has mirrored hisbeliefs. To stay current on the things happening at Premier, join them onFacebook @ James Cox Premier Martial Arts.