When Sensei Stefan Stein was forced to close his Superior dojo in the Belknap Plaza last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, he didn’t want to close the door on the community.

Like many, Stein, owner of StoneHouse Martial Arts in Duluth, said he and his wife took some time during the pandemic to re-evaluate their priorities.

“Running around like a headless chicken, and basically working too much, we didn’t want to run two locations again,” Stein said. “But we also didn’t want to close the door on Superior. Superior’s been very good to us.”

That’s when opportunity struck.

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Joe Tilander had finished his master’s degree in Chinese medicine in February at the American Academy of Acupuncture in Roseville, Minnesota. He’d been teaching karate in Two Harbors for almost 10 years.

“I was approached to start running this location,” Tilander said.

After searching for a location with Stein, they found the open space needed to teach karate in the traditional style at 1202 Belknap St.

“We found this space and it works great,” Tilander said.

In late June, StoneHouse Martial Arts, a franchise of the Duluth dojo on Woodland Avenue, opened its doors to students from age 3 to adults. Classes include pre-skill karate for children ages 3-6, introductory to advanced karate for youth, and karate for teens and adults of all ranks.

“We don’t teach mixed martial arts,” Stein said. “It’s not a full combat training that we do, but instead we approach it as a more holistic thing so it’s supposed to train the body in the ability to fight but hopefully create a better character and better people. We’re very family-oriented.”

Karate has a positive impact on the mind and the body because it is repetitive training that is ambidextrous – training both sides of the body and mind, which can have long-term benefits, Stein said. It's also an opportunity to build confidence while doing something with other people.

“This is a very safe environment for students to come and grow and become their own best; it’s not a competitive environment,” Stein said.

In addition to traditional karate, advanced students can get weapons training and learn kyusho, Tilander said. The kyusho program teaches the 14 main meridians, point location, martial application of the points and their healing properties.

“Since I was a kid, I was always more interested in the more natural types of healing,” Tilander said.

Stein said his only role in the Superior dojo is as a mentor to Tilander.

“I’m not the owner,” Stein said. “I have nothing to do with this other than being a mentor for him and making sure he is as successful as possible.”

Since opening, Tilander said he’s signed up close to 60 students.

And the dojo is equipped with camera equipment, a holdover from the pandemic when Tilander turned his living room into a dojo and offered karate classes over Zoom. He said the equipment will allow him to continue offering classes online for students who may be traveling. They’ll be able to go online for the lesson, regardless of where they are, Tilander said.

To sign up for classes, visit shthmartialarts.com or call 218-324-1106.

“It just happened to be a win-win,” Stein said. “We can focus on our Duluth location and hopefully do good things there. And Joe has the opportunity to do good things here.”

If you go:

What: Grand opening celebration

When: 2-6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 27

Where: 1202 Belknap St., Superior

Information: StoneHouse Martial Arts is planning a visit from Mayor Jim Paine around 2 p.m. There will also be a bounce house in the parking lot adjacent to Domino’s Pizza, a chance to visit the dojo and live music by Crescent Moon.