BATH — Ed Hall is no stranger to major martial arts competitions.
When he travels to Jamaica for a world championship martial arts competition in January, though, he won’t be fighting.
Hall, who runs Hall’s Olympic Martial Arts at 111 Centre St., will serve as assistant coach on the U.S. National Martial Arts Team that will compete in the Martial Arts World Championships. The Jan. 23-24 event will be held in Trelawney, Jamaica. His team will fight in a mix of Japanese, Chinese and Korean styles.
It will be an unusual take on martial arts competition for the 36-year-old Phippsburg man. With three hall of fame entries – two in the U.S.A. Martial Arts Hall of Fame and one recently in the Action Martial Arts Hall of Fame – the Virginia native invented the globally recognized Jung Tu Do fighting style, a combination of all the martial arts Hall has learned.
He is a fifth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, with six other black belts. Hall missed a bid for the Olympics in 2000, but became a national Tae Kwon Do champion, winning the U.S. Cup and the U.S. Invitational and ranking among the top 30 competitors in the world.
Hall was appointed to the U.S. National Martial Arts team last month. By then, though, he had just retired from fighting.
About a year and a half ago he participated in a season of fighting, and he last two fights brought him up against two men in their 20s who weighed 312 and 315 pounds, respectively. Hall weighs 200. While he beat his first opponent relatively quickly, the second proved far more formidable.
“(He) started off good,” Hall said. “And right in round one, I hit him with a good head shot, a roundhouse kick to the head, and he just kind of smiled that off. He was tough.”
Hall’s opponent won, and they became good friends. Prior to that loss, though, Hall had been thinking of retiring, in part because the intense demand of training caused him to sacrifice much of his time with his family and business.
“To compete with these young guys that are strong and hungry and training, putting in the time, it’s a tough road,” Hall said.
When he was contacted by team coach Jim Thomas about joining, Hall struggled with the choice of whether to fight once more. Then Thomas offered him the assistant coach position, which Hall readily accepted.
“I’ve been fighting since I was 14, and it’s hard to put that down,” Hall said. “But it’s funny how the career changes.”
He trains as the other fighters do, and his wife Lisa – who he calls the brains and backbone of his business – is his nutritionist. He keeps up with the latest fighting and training systems to ensure that he stays cutting edge and evolves as the sport evolves.
“Coaching is an art that a lot of people don’t have,” Hall said. “You have to have the ability to connect with your fighter, to have to have the ability, the understanding and the knowledge to be able to read the situation.”
Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.