Walter Evans’ Shihan School of Survival has led youth and adults to become more fit, confident, and self-disciplined for nearly two decades in Pinellas County. Venture Philanthropy Fund’s shared-services program has provided Walter administrative and grant-writing support to help continue his mission to bring health and conflict-resolution skills to youth and adults countywide.
Walter has taught karate, jujitsu, and self-defense at Campbell Park Elementary, Clearwater Neighborhood Family Center, North Greenwood Recreation Center, James B. Sanderlin Center, Academy Preparatory School, Artz 4 Life Academy, Childs Park Rec, and the Pinellas County Schools and library systems.
He recently shared how, at an early age, he believed martial arts aligned with courage and community. “At around 8-years-old, I began to be influenced by my mother’s stories about my Uncle Jesse, who was a Korean War veteran. He learned Korean-style karate during the war, came home, and was very protective of his family,” said Walter.
Hearing stories of how his Uncle Jesse would come to the rescue with his martial arts skills if anyone tried to disrespect Walter’s mother or grandmother gave him the desire to be able to do the same.
Raised by a single mother, Walter gained a sense of how he might become a man known for taking care of his loved ones through his uncle, as well as his grandfather – with whom Walter stayed when he took his first martial arts class at the age of 9, in New Haven, Conn.
At the same time, added Walter, martial arts training demanded an ability to remain in control. “I learned to keep my new-found strength and talents under wraps — to avoid being challenged and avoid being aggressive. I definitely couldn’t be aggressive because I would hurt other kids. Once you obtain the skills [of martial arts], it humbles you,” acknowledged Walter.
Shihan School of Survival will be hosting a tournament at Tropicana Field during the 2019 MLK Day of Service on Monday, January 21. The MLK Karate Invitational will feature students from five martial arts schools, including youth from Sanuces Homestead, Childs Park Rec Tae Kwon Do, Coker’s Karate, Budokan Martial Arts, Tampa Bay Tang Soo Jitsu School of Survival, and the Invitational’s host, Shihan School of Survival.
Immediately on the heels of the MLK Day of Service, Walter will be gearing up for his Shihan School of Survival’s 4th Annual Karate Tournament on Saturday, February 23, 2019, at the North Greenwood Recreation and Aquatic Complex in Clearwater, 900 N. Martin Luther King Jr Avenue, Clearwater, FL, 33755. The tournament has drawn students, competitors, and visitors from as far away as Ocala, Orlando, Miami, Manatee County, and New York City.
Walter is currently planning a new program for older youth (ages 13 – 21) to address behavioral and safety issues, including car thefts and gangs. Walter knows from personal experience how martial arts can help direct the energy that can lead teens and young adults to act out in the wrong way.
Walter hopes the program will prepare youth to become respectful members of the community, hold good jobs, reject drug use and unhealthy eating habits, and avoid behaviors like car theft, robbery, and selling drugs.
“The fact that they want to steal and drive a car has to be quelled with a replacement, a reward,” Walter noted – likening their joy of speeding, driving, and showing off to offering an emotional high. “Being in a martial arts class, they’re getting the same thing, but instead, they’re feeding their egos by training hard — so they can perform well in class and in tournaments,” he asserted.
Walter believes the adrenalin rush offered by martial arts classes and competition might be a welcome replacement for the community youth with troubling behavior.
For more information, visit the Shihan School of Survival website or call 727-641-0127.
VenturePF Supports Youth Programs
The Venture Philanthropy Fund at Pinellas Community Foundation has been a valuable resource for our community. Contact VenturePF for more information or to apply for support.