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Black Belts
Don't Quit

1313 South 6th St.
Brainerd, MN  56401

Hallet Community Center
Crosby, MN

 The Unity Cup

AKI Certified Private Home Dojo classes offered live online worldwide

NEW! Central Lakes College
Karate Club
Brainerd, MN

K-12 After School Karate Club


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. 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! 


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Sensei Nelson Sunu, 4th Degree Dan

Director of IOSTK Latin America

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TEAM ASCESNION is having a sign up discount for all kids going back to school this Fall semester! Don't miss out on premium karate at an affordable price. Our programs are designed to accommodate adults and children of all ages, skill level, and ability. 


Congratulations Sensei Brent, Sensei Lizzie!  2022 Foreign Service Youth Foundation Award Winners for Community Service!


Once...could be a fluke.  Twice becomes a pattern.  Three times and now we have full proof that the Central Lakes Area now has a performance and competition team that specializes in gymnastics and martial arts.  And, come October 8, the award winning Team Ascension will travel to Kerry County, Ireland to once again take part in the WKC World Championships, ready to prove the rule. Some best kept secrets in 2022 have emerged worthy of discussion!

Practical self defense gymnastics training? What are you talking about?  Never heard of it. Most people in Brainerd, MN are not practicing gymnastics because they are going to the Olympics.  Most of them are taking it because they enjoy it, and because its a great way to harness the body's power, flexibility, strong shoulders, and stronger back.  It's just plain fun to be able to walk across a balance beam, or have the strength to pull one's self up on a bar.  It's good for you too!  Exercise without knowing you are exercising--is there anything better?

After training in Guatemala City, the Haney kids brought home to Brainerd an award winning creative and extreme open hand and weapons program.  The basis of it is floor tumbling and gymnastics.  Unlike in karatedo, korean, or kenpo, creative and extreme training requires one to be able to do a bridge, a hand stand, a cart wheel, a one handed cart wheel, a round off, and on and on into the highest levels of floor gymnastics.  

But the instructors got together and realized that self defense could also take advantage of what gymnastics offers.  After all, ever see Black Widow in the marvel comics end impressive gymnastics movements without ending it with a backfist punch?

Hence a new kind of self defense program in their mind began taking shape. Using their experience with creative and extreme open hand forms they developed for competing, weapons, and gymnastics, they created a way to train gymnastics for a practical purpose.  Make girls and boys equally able to jump around like Captain America.  And in the process, strong bodies develop like they do in a well attended gymnastics class, and stronger minds and discipline develop because of the exposure to martial arts.


"Parents want their kids to do gymnastics, but here are some things they might not have considered," said Brent Haney.  "First, I would worry that they are spending a lot of money.  If your child is only going to class once a week, how does that help them get really good at a sport?  Can they spend only once a week for an hour on math, and get good at it?  How about spending only once a week learning to rebuild an engine?  The best that happens there is you learn how to pass your tools to Dad or Mom as they fix the car, if they aren't really practicing regularly.


"Second, I'd like to see gymnasts in the area learn how to put their skills on the tumbling mat and beam to great use for a lifetime and not just childhood. How many parents took gymnastics as a child, but don't presently use them at the age of 40? Learn how to defend yourself by leveling up your knowledge base, and gymnastics suddenly has a lifetime meaning in your life.  You will garner instincts to manage your distance, timing, and rhythm.  Plus, the competitions we go to focuses just as much on adults as it does on the kids.  That means all your gymnastics training doesn't stop at high school, and competitions begin paying you money when you win."

Imagine a gymnastics meet where, when you win, you get paid? 

Martial arts competitions are called tournaments.  Especially on the pro circuits, but even in the independent tournament black belt divisions, men and women victors at karate tournaments can expect cash prizes of varying amounts for outstanding grand champion performances.

Female Fighters Matter 2 is a movement that exists to remind the sport that women fighters train just as hard as their male counterparts.  Therefore, prize purses should be the same.  On the forms side, prize money can be in the hundreds of dollars for first place, and sometimes lesser amounts for second and third.

The point is, gymnastics purpose is expanding in the martial arts world.  Thus far it has been for competition.  At Team Ascension Martial Arts, the instructors have asked the good question, why not for self defense too?

Unite the US State Department youth and adult communities worldwide...using martial arts? It was this idea that earned him the Foreign Service Youth Foundation recognition and a $1000 award for him and his sister.


Martial arts was the basis for his community service project idea, crafted by Brent Haney in 2020. In 2021, he spent his year following through on the idea creating a virtual schedule and enlisting the aid of his senseis as co-instructors so that participants would have a certified black belt program worldwide--the real deal, authentic and recognized. Using zoom, anyone all over the world could participate, specifically targeting the US State Department diplomatic community, and he also wanted to make it accessible to people at any income level.  

"The belts earned through my program come from programs of the highest level quality," said Haney.  "I know what it was like for my Mom, learning that she had paid so much money for a program that was more an amalgamation of different styles and that was the why behind all those tournament losses.  That was the 'why it doesn't work' when it came to self defense.  Even though there is an evolution of karate which is a great thing, there is a standard.  Our program recognizes this standard and teaches to the standard in karatedo, kenpo, and sport karate. This program makes it worldwide accessible at a price anyone could afford--even zero when you take in the karate club program we do for K12 Private Academy. Even zero when you consider every Monday at 1 PM CST we do class for free for anyone around the world."

Haney is quick to point out he couldn't do any of this without the support of his 5 siblings, and in particular one Lizzie Haney. "Lizzie believed in the idea from the start. When we needed someone who could cover classes, at age 11 she stepped right in.  I was skeptical...she was too little, I thought.  But then she proved why she earned even more gold medals than I did last year in Orlando--because she was a world champ from the beginning.  She proves the rule that winning and reputation and what people think of you is all about personal mindset and what you contribute to make someone else's life better...without even really thinking about the consequences to yourself. She's so unselfish in every way.  Being born number 4, she didn't even get all the extra my siblings and I did.  But she took what she was given, always with an amazing and awesome attitude, and did extraordinary things with it.  Now, most of the little ones prefer training with her or my equally wonderful older sister Kendall, and I take on the private lessons and the athletes looking to join our competition team seriously."

Team Ascension has instructors capable of managing an athlete's career in every division WKC offers.  "While we don't do Chinese soft style, we know people who do.  So, we enlist there help.  For weapons, I would recommend my brother Saxon Haney.  He is extraordinary with a bo staff and somehow he is able to get people to believe in themselves in a way I don't.  He makes people better just by being who he is.  It's a gift...a real talent.  He and I trained together in Guatemala like brothers should.  His reasons though for doing karatedo are entirely personal and family related.  He couldn't really care less about the trophies.  He cares about his family and that was his why for so long, being a part of things the way he chose to be.  And, that's something that I think people should be around, know about him.  Family first and always...he is always there.  When we have our students around him, they develop that same mindset."

Haney is a perennial WKC World Champion looking to score his next victories in the WKC Virtual World Championship and live in Ireland October 8-13.  

2022 WKC Virtual Results: Repeating World Champion Status Plus! 

Congrats to our returning champion team!  Plus, special shout out to Tosher Blair Haney for making it in the black belt ranks!  Good luck to all in the WKC Virtual World Championships in June!

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Student Essay: Why I Train

by Saxon Haney, Black Belt


Martial arts is most associated with kicks, punches and physical sport, but that isn't the only thing it accomplishes. Martial arts also teaches discipline, focus, respect, competitiveness, and confidence. So, how does it accomplish all this?

Martial arts, unlike other sports, is an individualized activity. To become well accomplished regarding martial arts needs discipline, to push yourself even when it gets hard, or you just don't feel like it. It also requires focus, to be able to pay attention at all times. Martial arts is an individual sport. That means that a large motivator is yourself, to train yourself so that you win the next medal, trophy, or any other kind of achievement. 

Discipline learned from martial arts doesn't just apply to martial arts though. Focus and discipline learned from martial arts applies to all aspects in life. School, work, or even a hobby you had wanted to get to but just didn't, all require discipline and focus. 

Confidence is often hard to come across, and it can be vital in many aspects of your life. Presentations or interviews become so much harder to do well with if there is a lack of confidence. Martial arts teaches confidence through a plethora of ways, though most notably through personal achievement. Interviews or presentations are hard at first, though they become significantly easier with practice, which martial arts provides in spades. Practice garnered from performing at tournaments or in front of the rest of your martial arts school can apply to any other presentations you may find yourself needing to do.

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We need get paid to workout!

Our 2021 Road...


Team Ascension Positioned to Clinch Multiple WKC World Champ Titles! 


(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. 

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For full ranking results, click here:


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 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 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."

"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

"Vaya con quien te 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!"   

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.   

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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, 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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