Packed House for Martial Arts Program Holiday Event

Jan 10, 2018

The Mount Shasta Martial Arts Program celebrated its 10th Open House & Holiday Food Drive on December 14 by hosting an evening of martial arts action, raffle prize giveaways, and collecting food for local seniors.

Holiday Tradition

“This milestone event represents a busy decade sharing our unique activity program and this special holiday tradition with the community,” said MSMAP Head Instructor and Executive Director Chuck Buhs. “It was a packed house both on and off the mat. The martial arts action by the kids, teens, and adults was easily matched with the enthusiastic appreciation of the audience.”

“This is the eighth year for our family experiencing the holiday open house,” said Touson Saryon, a father of five children. “These events are inspiring, educational, quite entertaining, and they seem to get better with each passing year!”

Eli Jones, 45, shared that “this was my second open house that I participated. It was fun giving the audience a basic understanding of what we do. Having my entire family on the mat showing their skills was great, and I think the crowd really enjoyed watching them throwing me to the mat.”

Warrior Princess

“Families like the Saryons and Jones’ support MSMAP because we’re about a lot more than just kicking and yelling,” explained Buhs. “It’s about developing confident and responsible leaders through disciplined, dynamic training.”

This sentiment is echoed by Dr. Peter Halt, founder of MSMAP in 2001. For Halt, the open house was a chance to reflect on how the MSMAP curriculum translates to real-world benefits especially for students like black belt candidate, Riley Witherell, 17.

“As I watched Riley toss these large men around, I thought back to when I knew her as a young girl. She used to easily flinch when I moved in her direction. Now, as I watch her lead a group through exercises and talk to a crowd with confidence and real leadership skills, I can’t help but think that we are training Amazons here and helping girls transition from wallflower to ‘Warrior Princess.’

“Particularly in this age where women are starting to stand up together against men that have abused and bullied them, I want everyone to realize that it is time to give our girls and boys real physical and mental skills to stand up and defend themselves in the moment instead of reporting them after the fact.

“Martial arts training and developing self-respect needs to be part of the conversation and part of the education process starting when kids are old enough to say, ‘No,’” continued Halt. “Imagine a world where everyone was trained and confident and powerful, fit and healthy, with a work ethic and a community of like-minded people standing with them. They would be unstoppable.”

Saryon shares that this process is already underway for his children.

“Four of our kids have attended MSMAP since 2010. We find that MSMAP offers a valuable service to our small community that is mostly found in larger cities. It gives our kids the opportunity to gain confidence, agility, skills, and to experience the rewards of dedication in a safe, supportive environment, all for an unbeatable price!”

Family Time

For Jones, training in MSMAP is another way to connect with his wife and two children, Jackson, 12, and Tyler, 9.

“When I first started training it was something for me, my time,” said Jones. “Soon after, my son wanted to train. A year later, it has become part of our lives and something we enjoy doing together. We have great talks on our drive home after class, we competed in a tournament in April, and went to a martial arts summer camp in July. It’s been great for my son and I. Just sharing this makes me appreciate being involved in this program and looking back at all we have done together because of it.

“Our family goals include building a strong foundation for many years to come through teamwork, strength training, trust and mental exercises, and self-defense.”

Prizes & Food

In addition to the action on the mat, the open house also featured raffle drawings featuring prizes donated by local businesses and individuals.

“We’re very appreciative to all our business friends in Mt. Shasta, Dunsmuir, Weed, and McCloud for all their generous support both of this event and of our program,” said Buhs. “We also thank everyone that purchased raffle tickets, collected prizes, or donated to the program over the years. As a non-profit, we rely heavily upon meaningful contributions like this, month-to-month, year-after-year.”

Attendees also contributed to the food drive that benefits the Senior Nutrition Program operated through the Mount Shasta Recreation and Parks District. Several bags of food were delivered to the Main Lodge at the Mount Shasta City Park on December 20 by Riley and black belt Vitaliy Tveritin, 16.

MSRPD Administrator Mike Rodriguez expressed “many thanks to the Mount Shasta Martial Arts Program for keeping the Spirit of Giving alive and for reaching out to our seniors who benefit from the kindness expressed by the students and families during their annual food drive.”


Looking back over nearly two decades, Halt shared that he feels “privileged to play a small part in teaching these life skills in this community and am very grateful to have Master Buhs and our parent organization, the U.C. Berkeley Martial Arts Program, providing this incredibly high-level of expertise and experience to the great families in Mount Shasta.”

“We are so grateful to Master Buhs for his continued volunteer efforts at such a professional level,” added Saryon.

“This is less about me and far more about everyone else,” said Buhs. “I’m both humbled and honored that people of all ages take up the challenge to get on the mat with us. But, their dedication, their support, their interest in exploring martial arts as a means to achieve more in their lives is what’s important. All these amazing families made the past 10 years a fantastic ride and continue to make this program worthwhile.”

More information about MSMAP can be found on its website (, Facebook, email (, or by calling 530.859.2024..

More Information

Senior Nutrition Program
The Recreation and Parks District is the official provider for the senior meal program thru a contract with the California Department of Aging and Planning and Service Area 2 - Agency on Aging. Year-round donations of food and money for the Senior Nutrition Program can be made by calling 926-2494.

“Since 1974, there has been a hot lunch program for senior citizens at the City Park Recreation Center...55+ meals are delivered to homebound seniors in the South County (Home Delivered Meals). Transportation to and from the Mt. Shasta lunch site is also available...The Senior Nutrition Program strives to not only meet the nutritional needs of its senior participants, but also recognizes the importance of socialization and life enrichment. Informational programs, special events, and other activities are a regular component of the senior lunch program schedule.”

MSMAP's Open House
Each December, MSMAP hosts an Open House & Holiday Food Drive to celebrate the holidays with a unique, martial arts-based event of action, prizes, and food donations. First held in 2008, it is a chance for participants to display their growing skills and help those in need.

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