Johnathan Best graduated from the W in 2016 with a degree in theater. He has been training in martial arts since he was 12 and has always wanted to own his own studio. That dream has finally become a reality. In this Alumni Spotlight, Best shares the story behind his dream and what he hopes to accomplish in the future.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for a martial arts studio?
A: “I’ve wanted to open up a studio since I was very young. I actually started martial arts at the age of 12 and very quickly into my martial arts career, I realized that this is something that I wanted to do and even when it came to looking for careers and majors in school and what I wanted to do for the rest of my life it always revolved around, ‘Will I be able to open up a studio on top of this?’ I used to want to be a teacher because I knew that they got the afternoons off, and therefore I could open up a studio.”
Q: What motivated you to open the studio?
A “I am certified in The World Tang Soo Do Association, so I will be primarily teaching Tang Soo Do, but I think as a martial artist, you should be well-rounded. So I’ve definitely dabbled in all different types of arts, and I try to bring that back into what I’m teaching there. I’ve been a certified instructor since 2013, and I used to go to a martial arts studio in Amory, and I still was, even when I was in college, to East Mississippi Tang Soo Do in Amory. I decided I should either, you know, keep going or not, and I decided to keep going. So the next logical step would be to open up my own studio.”
Q: In what ways did your degree help prepare you for entrepreneurship?
A: “It’s helped me in several ways to get to this point because the biggest class when it comes to opening up the studio that’s helped me is Theatre Management, because that’s very much business-associated. It’s a very business-centric class, and so having to do with managing my finances and just in the pursuit of business.”
Q: How can we find out information about your martial arts studio?
A: “It’s called ‘Best’s Academy of Martial Arts.” It’s going to be at the aerobics room of Steel Monkey Crossfit, which is at 454 Lock and Dam Rd., Columbus, Miss., which is also Wilkins-Wise Road. Our doors will open on Dec. 1 at 4:30 [p.m.] as the kids’ class and 5:30 is the adults’ class. Your first class is always free, and after that it’s $40 a month.”
Q: What are your plans and hopes for the future?
A: “I’ve been very fortunate in my career path. Like I said, I wanted a job that was flexible enough to let me do things I wanted to do, and I work at Cumulus Media in Columbus as the production director there and, because of that, my hours have been flexible enough and I’ve had the freedom to pursue theater and keep my martial arts career alive as well. I create commercials, and my degree in theatre really helped me to create characters for these commercials and make them alive and interesting for people instead of just reading words on a page.”
Q: Which iconic martial artists inspired you the most and why?
A: “Jackie Chan has always been one of my favorites because he doesn’t hold himself up as a macho man. Like, you’ll never see a movie where at the end there’s like fire in the background and it’s raining and he’s shirtless and he’s like, ‘Come on bro, let’s fight!’ It’s always like he’s defending himself. He always never wants to fight, he just does it. Chuck Norris is always a good answer because he actually trained in the same art, and his instructor was Grand Master Jae Chul Shin. He was the grand master of the WTSDA for a very long time, and I actually got to train under him. So I’ve been trained by the same guy as Chuck Norris. It’s really cool that he’s put his art into the WTSDA. He definitely helped spread it to seven different continents, and he’s responsible for tens of thousands of black belts, and I’m proud to be able to carry on that tradition and be able to open up my own and hopefully be able to raise some of my own black belts.”