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Martial-arts instructor recognized for philanthropy

December 12, 2010|By DAN DEARTH | dan.death@herald-mail.com
  • James C. Smith II teaches karate at Mr. Jimmy's White Tiger Martial Arts in Hagerstown. Smith is the recipient of an award presented by World Martial Arts Hall of Fame for outstanding charitable contributions.
By Colleen McGrath/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Black belt James C. Smith II gets a kick out of community service.

Since he opened Mr. Jimmy’s White Tiger Martial Arts in Hagerstown a little more than a year ago, Smith has raised thousands of dollars, and provided several truckloads of food and clothing for charitable causes.

For his philanthropy, Smith received an award from the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame during a Nov. 6 ceremony in Florida.

“The award is in my name, but I couldn’t have done it without my students and the community,” Smith said. “Helping my community is great. It means they will give back to someone else.”

Smith said he was teaching martial arts at a studio in Hagerstown for about nine years before he and his wife, Marcia Watters, opened Mr. Jimmy’s White Tiger Martial Arts in the South End Shopping Center in August 2009.

“My fear was opening up with the economy the way it was,” Smith said. “I have 215 students. I would have been happy with 70. I guess the good Lord has blessed me.”

Over the last year, Smith has raised thousands of dollars for charitable causes, including $5,000 for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. The studio also has provided two truckloads of toys to Toys for Tots, and two truckloads of coats and gloves for the REACH shelter in Hagerstown.

On Nov. 8, Smith and Watters started another food drive to help the needy for Thanksgiving. A food drive to collect items for Christmas is taking place this month.

The studio pits students of different skill levels against each other in a contest to determine who can raise the most for charity, Watters said. The white, yellow and orange belts make up one team, while the green, blue, purple, red and brown belts comprise another. The black belts also compete.
 
“It’s about giving back to the community,” Smith said. “In martial arts, everyone can be a champion in life.”

Smith holds a fourth-degree black belt in tae kwon do and a fifth-degree black belt in hapkido. He said he teaches his students that it’s always better to walk away from a fight, except when the fight involves helping others.

“You don’t have to fight to be a man,” Smith said. “Martial arts is not about fighting. It’s about honor, integrity, discipline. It’s about making people better people.”

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