A fourth martial arts Hall of Fame, it should almost feel like business as usual for taekwondo Master Shane Evan Nixon, right?
Except the last honor he received still caught him a little off guard.
“This one here was a complete surprise,” Nixon, who owns and runs Mellennia Martial Arts in Clinton. “There are some really prominent people in there. Some of the people who are huge names in martial arts.”
Nixon was included in this year’s legends class with the American Martial Arts Alliance (AMAA), receiving the ring and recognition in Las Vegas, Nev. earlier this summer. With that, he was included in the book “Martial Arts Masters and Pioneers: Who’s Really Who in Martial Arts.”
That means if you pick up the book, with Grand Master Stephen Hayes on the cover, you can flip through it and find the Clinton resident and coach within the pages.
“This was one of the ones that hit me as one of the most important. It was one of the most professional, most prestigious,” Nixon said. “They keep these books on file and on Amazon. That’s really a neat thing to be a part of.”
“Everybody in this book is a genuine and legit martial artist. It’s just amazing.”
He got to experience everything in Vegas and meet the other inductees at a banquet. Nixon was also given a legends ring as part of the ceremony.
“I’m a little guy,” Nixon said. “I don’t think I belong anywhere near these guys but I had the honor of being there. I thought that was a really sharp thing and an honor to be there, a night of respect.”
Although he’s honored by the awards he has received over the years and the ranking of Master as a 7th-degree black belt, it wasn’t really his goal when he got into it. Nixon started training in taekwondo when he was just four years old and opened shop in 1997.
“This school here, this is something I never thought would happen,” Nixon said. “It started with my mom, my sister and my girlfriend and has grown into what it is today.”
Millennia Martial Arts has had its home on 2nd Street for the last 11 years and now is home to over 170 students, plus another 80 in DeWitt and Maquoketa.
He had no idea where it was going to take him.
“It continues to get bigger and bigger,” Nixon said. “We have people from all walks of life. Anybody can go out and get in a fight. What our goal here is is to make sure people have the chance to be successful in life.”
With his 30 years of experience, he’s trained in different forms of martial arts but has clung to taekwondo. He even trains in Korea every two years to keep up his ranking, planning a trip this month.
Having trained as much as he has and in as many places, he’s seen a lot of methods. But that’s what he says makes the school so appealing.
“I found what works. And that’s what we do here,” Nixon said. “The biggest thing we do is a rotating curriculum. They get something different every time they come in here. That makes our students not stagnant: they don’t get bored. You have to keep them moving, excited and give them goals to reach.”
With over 170 students, something about his way of coaching is certainly working. Internationally and nationally certified, he teaches the World Taekwondo Federation form (WTF) to a whole slew of ages. He even took a 5-year-old to the national tournament in Louisiana just a couple of weeks ago.
“I’m not looking for the star athletes, the football player or track star,” Nixon said. “I want the kids who want to work hard, who have some hurdles to get over in life and want to achieve something and want a future. That’s what this place was founded on.”
Millennia hosts a large, regional tournament every year at Fulton High School that draws near 300 competitors, the next one scheduled for October.
“It’s been a really amazing thing, what we’ve built here,” Nixon said. “It’s not me, it’s the people we have here. I’m just the one who turns on the lights and takes care of the property. It’s our staff, it’s our positive people who are helping build this place up.”
But positive is the message he wants to give off every single day. The reason he decided to get into teaching taekwando was in order to give back to his community and make an impact, especially on area kids.
“It’s not about getting a black belt,” Nixon said. “It’s about building these kids up so they’re leaders in our community and also so they’re positive people.”
Master Nixon certainly has goals. He would like to become a Grand Master someday, and he wants to continue growing Millennia Martial Arts and their annual tournament, but more than that the community. He wants to continue to see his students succeed before he’s done.
“When I started teaching, I liked that because I felt like I was giving back,” Nixon said. “That’s why I continue to do this. If I can see my students grow and the people who are part of our family here grow, then I feel like we succeeded.
“I’ve learned a lot, but I think I have a lot more to learn. I learn just as much as these people are every single day.”