"Our greatest glory is not in falling, but rising every time we fall."



Black Belts Don't Quit

Here at Team Ascension, we want to provide every person regardless of age, location, or current martial arts experience the opportunity to be part of a championship karate team.  Whether you live in urban or rural Minnesota, or maybe you are coming from overseas and need a team that can elevate your play, we have a place on our team for you.  Our black belts help build karate communities, and our class sizes are kept purposefully small so that everyone gets the kind of individual attention they need to succeed.  You don't need experience--just desire to try.  Come join our team! 

Home dojo classes offered live online worldwide

Please call for more info



1313 South 6th St.

Brainerd, MN  56401




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Sensei Nelson Sunu, 4th Degree Dan

Director of IOSTK Latin America

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Team Ascension Positioned to Clinch Multiple WKC World Champ Titles! 

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For full ranking results, click here:

(06/08/2021)The road to a World Championship title is composed of hours and hours of training, 6 circuit tournaments, the best instructors in the world, and a desire not to quit when things look difficult," said Brent Haney.  And he would know.  He and his fellow team mates on Team Ascension are well on their way to clinching their first world champion victories as a team together on the 2021 WKC World Champion Circuit, 

On June 6, the young team competed live against people from all over the world to emerge within striking distance of world champ titles in Kempo,  Korean, and Weapons.  Within reach are titles in hard style and classical.  But most impressively? This is a team that doesn't know one style - they study them all.  


"We wanted to know what makes every martial arts style great and pass it on to others so those students could also make a choice of either competing in one or many. Martial arts is not just one lineage.  You could think of it more like a tree with the trunk composed of 5 classical branches--shotokan, shito-ryu, goju ryu, wado ryu, ryujin ryu. Other people might add in other styles there which are all valid.  Those are the ones we favor. Then, on top of that, we learn how to create creative open hand and weapons forms based on what we learn from classical technique.  This is very positive for a life skill -- teaching people to create something from the basics that they have learned.  There are a lot of very positive life lessons that martial arts schools like ours teaches--that way black belts look awesome not just on the mat, but also in their careers and personal relationships."

Haney emphasizes that karate training is not about the game of martial arts exclusively, but about building a person up in the best way possible.  "When you have a victory on the karate mat, it is a real victory.  And we celebrate the small victories as much as the big ones--those add up. Those real victories--learning how to stick with things when it gets hard--change a person from the inside out.  Any change a person has is a choice--and it comes from the inside out. No one and nothing can change someone.  Martial arts however helps people to stay the course on what they know is right, and not quit. That, and that alone, is why we train.  To become better people and live the values we know are the right ones, not just talk about them."

"We celebrate the small victories as much as the big ones--those add up. Those real victories--learning how to stick with things when it gets hard--change a person from the inside out.  Any change a person has is a personal choice--martial arts helps with that process that the individual undertakes for himself or herself." 

In addition to learning classical, Haney is quick to point out that he will always be most fond of Korean forms, and hopes to secure the world champion title to go along with the bronze he already possesses and 4 PanAmerican gold medals.  Sparring, however, he claims is where it is at for those people interested in effective karate applications training.

Sparring competitively in 2020 and 2021 was forced to essentially close its doors for legitimate precautionary reasons as the pandemic raged.  But, as vaccination rates improve, people are now returning to the gym to engage in what according to Haney is 90% drills and 10% actual sparring. "I didn't come up with that.  The greatest point sparring fighter ever told me that when I got to train with him in Guatemala at a seminar hosted by the Wolfpack schools there during a WKC qualifier tournament for Worlds.  He's one of my heroes and I couldn't believe I got to meet him there. I have personal heroes in Minnesota as well and in Michigan too that I get to train with live or soon will. In addition to training abroad, great coaches exist in Minnesota and Michigan as well. People who take an interest in others and really elevate your game."

Haney credits his interest in martial arts with also helping him become more fluent in a second language. "Training in Guatemala or virtually is great because the coaches are always collaborating to bring new ideas to their students. They are always looking to try new ideas. One idea was to bring a bilingual Spanish program using karate-do to the US.  You are assured an outstanding level of training and competition when my senseis in Central America teach or play, and make no mistake that when you are with them you are with family who has each other's back.  Their quickness, the strategy, and their overall strength that they work on every day is the best part of working with them. I loved living there, and I miss them all every day. But, at least I get to train with some of my friends there virtually, and I will go back there when we can fly safely. As far as I am concerned, "sigue con quien te guia"--you follow who guides you, Loyalty is a big deal to me.  I feel as strongly about them as I do the coaches who take an interest in me here in the United States. For me, karate is composed of one world, one group of people who I care about a lot. And it promotes an outstanding opportunity for cultural exchange."

What does it take to become a great martial artist? "I am blessed to train with the best teachers in the world, and there isn't enough I could ever do for them although I would surely try," says Haney.  "And anyone who comes to train with me, I immediately introduce to my coaches as well. If I perform well, all of the credit goes to God first and always and next would be my parents and the instructors who take their time and energy and their own money to help me and my fellow team mates.  I think, if there was anything people who haven't joined a program should know about studying martial arts, is that your instructors and team mates and their family members become family to you and genuinely care about you.  We are a community. It is a family that should last a lifetime if you take care of them.  And if you are taking good care of your karate family, that means you know how to take care of your friends and relatives too."

Two more WKC circuit tournaments stand as gauntlets to be run for Team Ascension's young players.  Those pivotal dates will be June 27 and July 25. Will they make it all the way to gold? Stay tuned. 


Best Martial Arts School?

Team Ascension Identified As One of the Best Schools for 2021!

Identified as great on the mat, but what about in the classroom?  Apparently, great there too according to Lessons.com who just announced Team Ascension Martial Arts as one of their selections for best of the best in Minnesota Martial Arts schools in 2020.  But what did they see about the school that they liked?

According to the notification letter, "Hope you're having a great day! I wanted to give you a heads up that we've reviewed and featured your business on our Lessons.com list of the Best Teachers in your area for 2020.

We've looked at 74 teachers serving your area in the past, and analyzed/scored each business on over 25 variables across 5 categories. You can check out our selection criteria here.

Congratulations on being selected! Btw please note that the selections are listed alphabetically on the website."

But what makes Team Ascension instruction and their senseis unique?  There is a lot to consider.  But first and foremost,  says General Manager Barbara Haney, "Maybe it is the fact that a bridge every day is built between two countries who both love the same sport, sport karate, giving students a cultural exchange opportunity every time they come to class."


Team Ascension classes are offered in both Spanish and English, and the IOSTK classical curriculum is taught using Japanese vocabulary to identify kicks, punches, forms, and more.  Students quickly pick up not just the Japanese terms, but also Spanish as instruction is given in both languages.  "Learning a foreign language out of a textbook is difficult for some kids.  It is hard to sit.  But, when you pair movement to language, the receptive language skills start immediately and the expressive language soon follows with each class."

During the pandemic, Team Ascension instructors quickly adapted to a home dojo environment, advocating that karate lessons could be great inside a traditional brick and mortar dojo, or in a home dojo experience.

""Of course it is a switch.  But, our students demonstrated--like pioneers in a way--that web based fitness and self defense training can be as great online as it is in person.  We have students who attend world caliber tournament circuit tournaments--right now online--and they are bringing home the medals.  Where are they training?  With instructors from Guatemala primarily who give everything they have...they make online 100% live and real, " said Haney.  "Tournament participation is a great barometer for a school to gauge how well their students are learning...almost like standardized testing that you might find in academics. It is stepping on to a mat, and a panel of judges who don't know where a student is from, or care who they are, judge just karate skills, starting with great basics,


We owe all our student's success to the great instructors from all over the world who have taught us, and especially to our senseis from Guatemala City.  Vaya con quien te trajo...they guide us in the right direction, teach students looking for a quality martial arts program everything they've got--no holding back."


Each month new classes are formed with the idea of personal journey.  Where might a karate class take a new student?  That's up to the student, and the sensei who trains them.   

"Vaya con quien te trajo...you go with who brought you.  Our Guatemalan instructors guided us in the right direction, and they taught us to be athletes on and off the mat.  You just don't realize when you sign up for classes how much these wonderful instructors are going to do for you...everyone has a different reason for signing up for classes, their own personal reason, ...maybe it's fitness, maybe it's learning a mindset that says 'I can get through hard stuff and achieve despite challenges...maybe it was just to have fun!  We have a lot of that too!"   

"We have great senseis, most all from Guatemala, who really care about the process of becoming who a student wants to grow up to be...I just want to step on the mat and be my personal best...and then a veterinarian..."

--Lizzie Haney, Age 11

Team ascension

Strikes Gold again at 

WKC Pan American games!

Lightning strikes twice maybe, but hard work and dedication to purpose wins karate championships!  And the 2020-2021 Pan American virtual games proved that fact as small town heroes took center stage on WKC championship podiums for a second year in a row. 

Adding to Brent Haney's success from last year, Brent retained his champ status in creative weapons while taking home his first international gold in Korean forms.  This win adds to his bronze world title earned in 2019 from the WKC World Championships held in Niagara Falls just a year ago to date.  

"Competing allows us to put into practice what we learned at our home dojos, and it is so important to building that promised confidence and discipline that senseis like to talk about in their classes," remarked Haney when asked about the secret to his success.  "Without the tournaments, how do you know that what you are learning in class is correct?  Essentially, tournaments provide a venue for impartial judges from all over to critique your technique and rank you against peers from all over.  And that's how I know I have the best teachers in the world.  If I win, it is really their win.  They taught me everything I know." 


"And that's how I know I have the best teachers in the world.  If I win, it is really their win too.  They taught me everything I know, invested in me, and worked me hard so I could be the best version of myself."

This year Haney was not alone in either participating or bringing home 'hardware,' the word he uses to describe the medals and trophies Team Ascension brings home from events.  Little sister Lizzie Lion VIP was right on his heals with a silver place win in the 10 and under black belt divisions in traditional weapons.  This was Lizzie Haney's first year competing in the pro divisions, and her exuberance for the sport is catchy. 

"I love karate!," Lizzie responded when asked about what drives her to compete. "It is so fun to be recognized for doing all the stuff you were supposed to do, and know you did it right because they give you stuff!  I also love to make friends from all over the world, and I have the coolest coaches...ever. They are funny and fun and hanging out is the best part of my day!"

Next up Team Ascension will be found rounding out their international competition year in virtual tournaments that are sponsored out of Mexico as well as New York.  

Practice schedules continue each day in support of these competitors efforts.  "We practice every night with our instructors from Guatemala," said Brent Haney.  "They come into our homes each night via zoom, and we practice just as hard as if we were in fact in a dojo.  The nice part about virtual is we get to eat at home now instead of stopping for fast food just because training ran late.  Or, since we are in Minnesota, weather is now no longer an issue for getting to practice.  Practice comes to us at our convenience!  And it is convenient and saves a lot of time to not have to drive an hour in snow and back to get to the gym or back at home."

For more information about the team or the coaches that support them, Haney recommends sending a quick email to him at team ascensionmn@gmail.com, or to visit their website.  Multiple options for participation are available for every person's budget and time for the sport.  "Just get involved.  It is a sport that lasts your whole life. Try it!"



Lizzie Haney


What did we do online in Saturday's class?

What did we do in class this last Saturday?  After conditioning and combos practice, we introduced the round kick to a tornado kick,  and then revisited technique involved in the wheel kick and spin wheel kick.  Check back here each week for more technique videos to answer questions from over the weekend!

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It is hard to believe that  over ten years ago our story really began...


We can frequently be heard telling people that karate is not a kid sport, nor is it an adult sport.  It is a lifetime sport that encourages fitness, but it also helps teach us how to conquer those difficult areas in our life.  For example, when you learn how to do something as basic as a karate stance right every single time, the life lesson taught is that attention to detail matters or whatever you are doing isn't quite right.  Another example is finally mastering a side kick.  That's hard for anyone just starting out!  But once a student conquers that, the message follows that hard work and discipline allows one the confidence and knowledge they can do anything they are willing to put the time into.  The activity we do is karate.  The life lessons that go along with the activity are subtle, life long, and ageless.  And did we mention it's fun? 

Don't miss!
Our live online classes
and training videos include...
  1. Traditional forms and movements
  2. Traditional weapons
  3. Creative Open Hand forms
  4. Creative Weapons
  5. Extreme Bo, Bokken, and Kama
  6. Point Sparring
  7. Kickboxing conditioning
  8. Yoga (Balance/Flexibility)
  9. Self-defense strategies
  10. Sport Nutrition commentary

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