It all began as a way to spend more time together as a family. Ten years ago, Nathan Fort was looking for an activity for his young son, Noah, to get involved in when they came across Ernie Reyes West Coast World Martial Arts, a system that combines traditional martial arts forms with acrobatics and choreography.
“It is exciting and fun,” said Nathan Fort,39, last month at the family’s Hollister studio where the Forts give lessons to aspiring students of all ages. “You do twists, flips and spins. There are gymnastic elements intertwined with martial arts forms.”
The family, including sons Noah, 14, Aiden, 12, and mom, Lisa, 33, had just returned from a successful run at the World League Finals XIII, where Fort and each of his sons made a clean sweep in their class and age division.
“We just got back from the league world finals and on top of that had an amazing season this year,” said the proud dad.
The members of Team Fort, as called on the competition roster, each compete in their own age division using props modeled after ancient Japanese weapons.
Aiden is a pro at the kamas, a sickle-like weapon while Noah uses the bo or staff.
And all the routines, lasting one-and-a-half to two minutes, are all done to music.
But it is not just competing that keeps this family close. Through their connection to Ernie Reyes Sr., who developed the martial arts system, the family travels to gigs in Las Vegas, Florida and around the world as part of the Reyes’ demonstration team. They are also big on social media, having been featured multiple times on People are Awesome videos, with up to 200 million views on Facebook.
“It is cool to be able to travel around and compete and meet all kinds of people,” said Noah, a student at San Benito High School.
The martial arts system also has Hollywood cred. Ernie Reyes Jr. developed the television series, “Sidekicks,” and played the pizza-loving hero in a half-shell, Donatello, in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movies.
“Because they have been doing this ever since they were little they have learned how to harness their adrenaline to jump higher, flip higher. I have learned those lessons from them,” said Fort, his sons beaming.