Mastering martial arts with Cameron Smart

Since January, Orcas Islander Cameron Smart has been instructing martial arts to both children and adults.

“It’s been a really good first year,” he said.

Smart, who was born and raised on Orcas, began taking martial arts classes when he was in fourth-grade from Chuck Silva. His interest in the sport came from watching Jackie Chan movies.

“For me, martial arts is a lifelong journey,” Smart said. “I didn’t understand what this meant at first, but now Hawaiian Kenpo has already taken me on an adventure all around the world. The connections I have made with fellow practitioners are the best part. This is what drives me to teach martial arts and continue my journey.”

Smart teaches Hawaiian Kenpo, a mixture of Judo, Jujitsu, Shotokan, Kenpo and Aikido, that originated on Hawaii and was brought to the mainland by Mutsuto “Bill” Ryusaki.

“Kenpo has a long and exciting history with a lineage that can be traced back to Japan where the records end,” Smart said. “My philosophy is to teach practical self-defense while keeping the traditional and ceremonial aspects that promote mental acuity.”

When Smart graduated high school in 2011, he tested for and earned his black belt, the first of 10 that are available. He is still on his first black belt, but teaching can help him to earn higher levels of black belts. He hopes to one day take his skills to the mainland and expand his school.

“I enjoy martial arts because of what it reveals about oneself. Learning to control your emotions and observe those around you is the best way to protect against threats, physical or mental,” Smart said. “By attending a martial arts class, people learn how to deal with aggressive force and the emotions that provoke these attacks. It is not always easy and people get frustrated along the way, overcoming this is how martial arts strengthens the mind.”

Smart teaches two classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Children ages five to 13 can attend class from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. and adults (ages 14 and older) can attend class starting at 5 p.m. A class costs $10 for the hour and trainings are held at the Odd Fellows Hall. For more information and to register for the class, email Cameron at

“Martial arts works for everyone. Young people can learn valuable life lessons while older people can stay in shape and make new friends. I would like to see more young adults age 15 and older join,” Smart said. “Being 25, I understand how busy our lives are at the moment. Taking a martial arts class is a great way to unwind after work, have fun and stay warm in the winter. And of course, it is never too late to learn self-defense. If you like flashy, Hollywood, Jackie Chan movies, we can do that too.”