Longtime martial arts instructor Hutton bowing out
Since Tonganoxie Martial Arts opened in 1977, Rex Hutton has served as chief instructor.
That will officially change Thursday when April becomes May and Hutton hands over the reins to a young instructor with a different martial arts background, but similar goals for his students.
Hutton, an eighth-degree black belt, has a wealth of experience - he has a background in professional kickboxing, experience in tae kwon do and various martial arts, he's trained cagefighters and pro kickboxers and is licensed to teach boxing.
But the 62-year-old has seen mixed martial arts grow in popularity of late. Jujitsu and cage fighting are becoming more mainstream and Hutton saw the need to change over leadership at Tonganoxie Martial Arts to a "young, tough" instructor, whom he calls a "good kid."
That "kid" is Cody Bell, 21, of Basehor. Since graduating from Basehor-Linwood High School in 2004, Bell has been involved in one way or another with mixed martial arts, competing actively in cage fights, working his way through the amateur ranks before fighting as a professional for the first time last year in February.
"Timex Rex," as Hutton was called during his 11-year pro kickboxing career, still has a reputation in this area and will remain around the martial arts outfit as a volunteer. Bell wants to keep Hutton involved, because he is a known commodity in town.
Staying involved is important for Hutton, who wants to make sure students who come through the Tonganoxie Martial Arts classes learn not just how to move and control their bodies, but also valuable lessons in "courtesy, integrity, self-control and perseverance," he said.
"I like to think of it as we're an all-around martial arts training center," he said.
Hutton will keep working with tae kwon do students, but Bell will teach those interested in jujitsu, which involves a great deal of ground defense and submission holds, joint locks, chokes, compression locks, as well as a lot of throws and takedowns.
Hutton said those skills will make students more well-rounded and thereby make Bell a good replacement.
"Tonganoxie's a great town to support the martial arts," Hutton said, adding that he is looking forward to showing Bell the tricks of the teaching trade.
"Jujitsu is a good style," Hutton said.
It's a style Bell is eager to teach to students in Tonganoxie. Bell started instructing for youth wrestlers, and now he wants to bring a different style of defense to the youths, women and men who come to study under him.
"If people aren't interested in the competition side of the game and stuff like that, it's great to learn self-defense on the ground," Bell said. "Jujitsu, it's fun."
Bell plans to be at the center Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings for a beginners mixed martial arts jujitsu class with an advanced class to follow after that.
For more information on the classes, contact Bell at (913) 219-6527.