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Fostering self-discipline, respect for self, others


Maximum Martial Arts of Las Cruces has rebranded and relocated, adding University to both its name and its new address.

Director/founder Justin Castillo recently opened Maximum Martial Arts University (MMAU) at 1705 E. University Ave., between Dollar Tree and JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts in Pan Am Plaza. The larger location will accommodate his growing client base and the needs of the community, Castillo said.

Since opening in July 2010, MMA has outgrown four previous locations, he said. MMAU’s 8,420 square feet is three times bigger than its previous home at 415 E. Foster Road.

“We have room to grow,” said Castillo, adding that MMAU now has three classrooms, a room for private lessons and space for an after-school tutoring program.

With more than 300 students ranging in age from 3 to 78, MMAU offers kickboxing for all ages; women’s fitness including kickboxing; taekwondo; and adult low-impact classes, where the average age is 65, Castillo said. He is also considering offering yoga classes.

MMAU hosts Parents’ Night Out 5-9 p.m. one Saturday each month; and Parents Night In two times each year, featuring a DJ and a “dry” (no alcohol) dance for “our community of parents,” he said.

MMAU will soon be the home of Rock Steady Boxing, a nonprofit fitness program that focuses on motor skills and balance for people with Parkinson’s disease, Castillo said.

“We want to give back to the community,” he said.

MMAU follows four pillars: 1) martial arts as a vehicle to a healthy lifestyle; 2) physical fitness focusing on balance as opposed to fad diets and exercise programs; 3) self-defense training that emphasizes awareness of one’s environment, recognition of stress triggers and adrenaline rushes, verbal de-escalation and assertive rather than aggressive or passive behavior; and 4) character development.

Having self-confidence guides thinking and behavior and even the way a person moves, Castillo said. It fosters self-discipline and respect for both the self and for others, he said. That, in turn, drives other positive lifestyle changes, he said.

“I have lost count of people who have lost 100 pounds” in our classes at MMAU, Castillo said.

It’s a focus on “traditional, conservative values that are not necessarily taught in our education system,” he said. “We know who we serve and what we teach and we do it unapologetically.”

“We want to be the best fit for the demographic we serve,” Castillo said.

That means focusing on Las Cruces and becoming a training and fitness hub for the entire state, bringing students and clients to MMAU from across New Mexico.

“I’m teaching the grandchildren of students I originally taught,” said Castillo, who has been teaching martial arts for 29 years.

Castillo was born in Santa Fe and moved to Las Cruces with his family at age 7. He visited a martial arts dojo near his home at an early age, watching through the window as students practiced and performed. Angry because he was frequently bullied by kids in his neighborhood elementary school, Castillo said he tried to start fights with kids coming out of the dojo. That brought the instructor, Daniel Walker, out to talk to Castillo, telling him martial arts “is much more than fighting.” He gave Castillo a uniform and two weeks of free lessons.

“I non-stop fell in love with it. It changed my life,” Castillo said.

Contact MMAU at 575-524-3185 and headquarters@maximumlascruces.com. Visit maximumlascruces.net.