Posted: May 31, 2013 at 7:19 pm

By Megan Funkhouser and Dustin Hooks

With his shaved head and gauged ear lobes, Neale Hoerle looks more like someone who hurts bad guys in movies than a man devoted to helping children.

Hoerle is a Jiu Jitsu champion and the owner of Anu Academy in downtown Morgantown. Though Hoerle’s medals decorate the walls of his growing Academy, he says his real success is showing children, as well as adults, that they too can find empowerment and freedom from fear through the art of Jiu Jitsu.

Owner and head coach at Anu Academy of Martial Arts, Neale Hoerle, 40, teaches a children’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class. The gym is located at 227 Chestnut St. in Morgantown. The children's class is offered every Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Owner and head coach at Anu Academy of Martial Arts, Neale Hoerle, 40, teaches a children’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class. The gym is located at 227 Chestnut St. in Morgantown. The children’s class is offered every Tuesday and Thursday from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

“It’s more than having a successful business and a positive ledger at the end of the month,” Hoerle said. “It’s more of a success for me to watch a child get these skills to develop self-confidence.”

Hoerle explains that Jiu Jitsu means “the gentle art,” and that the art is used only for defense and never for attack.

Hoerle instructs the children with a gentle tone, and the respect that they show him and the other instructors is impressive, and this is also part of the legacy of Jiu Jitsu itself.

Hoerle’s wife Anna is also an instructor at Anu, and often trains children.

“Whenever they first come in they see the mats and think, ‘Oh look! It’s playtime!’ But we hold them to a higher standard of respect and discipline,” she said “When they see how the adults act then mirror [us]. That’s what they do when they’re young…they mirror everything that you do.”

Anu Academy is abounding in children, and many of them are encouraged by their parents to be involved in martial arts, such as 4-year-old William Bowman.

Students at Anu Academy practice breaking holds. Ken Willis, 43 uses the Gi of partner Omar Mozahem, 18, to avoid tapping out, flipping Mozahem to the mat.

Students at Anu Academy practice breaking holds. Ken Willis, 43 uses the Gi of partner Omar Mozahem, 18, to avoid tapping out, flipping Mozahem to the mat.

“It’s a good, positive extracurricular activity,” says father, Brent. “I was into martial arts training when I was a kid and I want to pass that on to my son as well.”

Hoerle attributes much of his life’s success to Jiu Jitsu, and makes it clear that it is a family-oriented sport that can be great exercise and offers its participants a sense of accomplishment.

“Everyone can come down to the gym,” he said. “Bring your wife, your kids, and everyone gets to grow together.” he says.