Adaptive Martial Arts Program

In addition to operating the Unbridled Martial Arts school, Rob Eis has been volunteering at the Max Higbee Recreational Center since 2003, teaching an adaptive Martial Arts class on Friday nights. The center is a local nonprofit organization providing recreational opportunities to people with developmental disabilities in Bellingham.

In August 2014, the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County presented Rob with their “Volunteers with Heart” award.

This marks the 11th year that Martial Artist, Rob Eis has volunteered to teach an adaptive martial arts class to our clients who have varying developmental disabilities. Rob, alongside his partner Kari Neumeyer, volunteer at least twice a month, bringing their expertise, equipment and passion for their sport and adapt it in a way where every one of our clients, no matter their ability level can thrive. I’ve personally watched as they’ve encouraged our members to push themselves out of their comfort zone in order for each of them to reach their goals. With Rob and Kari, our members’ disabilities are never a reason why they can’t do something. Instead of seeing the disability as an obstacle, they find a way to include everyone, and celebrate what they can do.

~ Hallie Hemmingsen, Max Higbee Center Executive Director

“Since September 2003 Rob has volunteered his Saturday evenings to teach an adaptive martial arts class to the participants at the Max Higbee Center, a local nonprofit organization providing recreation opportunities to people with developmental disabilities in Bellingham. His dedication and enthusiasm for martial arts is evident in every class and interaction with the students. I appreciate his high expectations and discipline coupled with his ability to adapt his lessons to a wide scope of students all the while maintaining a sense of humor. It may not be hard to find a martial arts instructor with experience and dedication; however, you cannot find an instructor with more dedication than Rob. He offers his services to the community motivated by passion rather than financial gain without compromising the quality of his program.”

~ Nancy Bouscher, Director for The Max Higbee Center

The non-profit organization was founded in honor of Western Washington University alum Max Higbee, who began his career at WWU in 1962 as an associate professor of education and eventually served as head of the special education program, later retiring in 1987.

The following photos (courtesy of Malinda Warder/ WarderPhoto) are of Rob teaching his specialized program.

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Students of UMA are encouraged to share their passion for the martial arts and be of service to their community.

Testimonial

I found Unbridled Martial Arts (UMA) back in 2008. I had looked at some schools online but right away noticed the high price tag. Not only did the schools want high monthly tuition, they also wanted me to sign an annual contract and buy special uniforms. I was discouraged since I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford all that and also I didn’t know how long I’d be staying in Bellingham. Just as I was losing hope of learning MMA, I came across UMA’s website.
I was surprised to see that there was no annual contract to sign nor were there any other hidden fees. I could join the school on month-to-month basis and train three nights a week. If I wanted to stop training, I was able to do so without getting penalized, unlike other schools and gyms that bind you with their annual contract. With UMA’s affordable and reasonable enrollment structure, I must admit I was skeptical of the quality of classes offered but I decided to take a chance.
There were people of all skill levels and all shapes and sizes attending the class. Rob was very organized with his lesson plan. He explained and demonstrated things carefully at a pace that was very easy to follow even for the beginners. When students paired up to work on drills, Rob went around the room giving pointers and assistance where needed.
I am happy that I discovered Unbridled Martial Arts seven years ago. Rob is still expanding the workouts in new and fun ways. UMA is such a comfortable atmosphere where I never feel intimidated by others or out of place. At UMA, students help each other to succeed and progress together instead of beating each other to get ahead of your classmates.
We all take turns cleaning the mats after class instead of expecting our teacher or a janitor to clean them. When I notice my classmates’ progress and my own improvement in class, I’m reminded that when you invest in yourself, your friends, and in the school, everybody gets better. I feel more confident in myself knowing that I have some self-defense knowledge and skills. I know this is a journey that will never end but I sure am glad that I got my start at UMA.

~ Teela Taki, Shipping and Receiving staff at REI

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