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When Devin Newton, the owner of Phoenix Rising Martial Arts, opened the doors to her small dojo last year in Mountain Home, she didn’t know what to expect.
While martial arts was a shared passion and profession in her family, being passed down from father to daughter, it had been years since she had hit the mat. She was a recovering addict who was working to rebuild her life after struggling with years of addiction.
The process of getting up and running was slow. She had a small number of students, some leftover equipment from her father, and a dream of turning her family’s legacy into a flourishing business.
Yet overtime, Newton proved herself to parents. She was a good instructor, who gave it her all when teaching the kids that walked through her doors. The effort paid off.
Flash forward a year later, Phoenix Rising and Newton are living up to the goals they set forth for themselves. The business has expanded, going from a small 1,500 square foot dojo in the shopping strip on Bradley Drive to a solid 3,500 square foot dojo right next to Carter’s Jewelry in the Carter’s family coveted shopping center in Mountain Home.
“We’ve exploded,” Newton said. “We had to go to a whole new location. I needed more room for my parents. I needed more room for my students. We had to have more room to have more classes.”
Newton’s karate lineage in the South is extensive. A seventh-degree black belt, Newton has studied under the likes of Grand Master Tim Kietzman, Grand Master Bruce Hodge, Grand Master Osborn, Logan Lee, Aaron Bristol and more.
Her father, Grand Master Curtis Futch, was a 10th-degree black belt with over 35 years of experience in teaching before his passing in 2014. A Vietnam Veteran, Futch was inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame in Orlando, Florida, as Grand Master of the Year.
While Newton spent her youth under the tutelage of her father and had a promising martial arts career, her life began to change in 2004, after she began going through her “party stage.”
Over the next 10 years, she would abandon karate for a life of addiction. She would be kidnapped and trafficked through several states, ending up in California and then Oregon.
After reaching rock bottom and finding herself in prison multiple times, she became serious about changing her life, eventually putting herself through a rehab facility in California after fleeing a prison sentence in Arkansas.
And that seriousness has paid off.
She has a family of her own now, and she mentors over 100 karate students in Mountain Home. In fact, she’s so good at being a mentor, that World Head of Family/Sokeship Council, the martial arts organization that Newton belongs to, will be inducting her as their 2023 American Freestyle Kenpo Master for the Year.
And that award is well deserved. Newton doesn’t just hold the basic 5 o’clock class for kids after school. She holds special classes for children in home school. She hosts classes for women wanting to learn self-defense. She even has Anthony Stagner, a local Arkansas MMA fighter, teaching classes for adults and older teenagers who want to dip their toe into the world of the octagon.
There’s even Newton’s “Little Dragon” program for young children, which uses a “treasure box” reward system to get younger students– think kindergarten –to focus on their martial arts classes by rewarding them with small presents for learning certain skills and finishing assigned tasks.
That reward system is taken even further for older students, who not only gain stripes on their belts, but also receive the opportunity to begin the process of becoming a qualified instructor by becoming student leaders. Newton currently has three teenagers involved in that program. Katelynn Immesoto, a former teenager who began learning how to teach under Newton, is now instructing at another dojo in town.
“That leadership experience qualifies them to teach,” Newton said. “And then the kids come in and learn from them, either in class or during open mat time.”
While Phoenix Rising has seen an explosion in popularity over the past year, Newton said she has more work to do.
She said she’s working on approval for a grant that will allow the business to purchase buses to transport students from school to the dojo after they are let out for the day. She’s also working on securing funding for new mats throughout the dojo.
While Phoenix Rising does have several mats spread throughout the dojo, the new floor space has left some gaps that Newton wants to fit in. She also said she’s looking to acquire thicker mats so that students feel more comfortable when going to the ground.
To date, the dojo has raised $2,000 of the $6,000 needed to place new mats throughout their new location.
Phoenix Rising is next to Mel’s Diner at 860 Highway 62 E Suite #5 in Mountain Home.
Phoenix Rising Class Schedules
Lil Dragons (age 4-6) – Tuesday and Thursday at 10:15 a.m., Monday through Thursday 5:15 p.m.
Children (age 6-13) – Monday through Thursday at 6 p.m.
Teen & Adults (13+) – Monday and Wednesday at 7:10 p.m.
Homeschool (6-13) – Tuesday and Thursday at 9 a.m.
Women’s Self Defense (16+) – Monday and Wednesday from 8:15 a.m. to 9:05 a.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 7:15 p.m. to 8:05 p.m.
Open Mat – Monday through Thursday at 4 p.m.
Fight Club – The third Friday of each month starting at 5 p.m. (sparring is open to all ages)
MMA – Tuesday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at noon
VIP Leadership Class – Third Friday of each month (time varies)
Weapons Class – Second Friday of each month. Class starts at 5 p.m.