The American Martial Arts Academy located at 96 Route 50 in Seaville celebrated its 30th anniversary Aug. 17 at the Performing Arts Center in Middle Township.

A venue this large was needed to accommodate all of the current students and their families as they performed demonstrations of every kind on the PAC stage. All names were listed of the 665 black belts awarded over the years.

Sensei John McCray, founder of AMAA, also acknowledged Frank Bianchino, the new owner with his wife, Rachel Bianchino.

A timeline was on display starting in 1980, when McCray met Master Malcolm S. Perkins at Atlantic Community College. McCray would become Perkins' student for the next 35 years. In 1986, McCray earned his first-degree black belt, and in August 1987, he opened his school in Ocean View, Ninja Karate Club.

It wasn't until 1992 that McCray decided to teach martial arts full time and relocated to a building in the Acme shopping center in Seaville and renamed the school the American Martial Arts Academy. Five years later, he bought and renovated a commercial property at 96 Route 50 and AMAA had a new home.

I spoke with Sensei Lynne Bandy and asked her why a young person would take karate.

"The AMAA is a community that was developed to teach discipline, courtesy, teamwork and most importantly self-esteem," she replied. "When students walk through the doors, they enter happy and ready to do their best."

"Classes begin at age 4 years, Dragons, and continue into adulthood," she added.

The AMAA is part of the Family Center on Route 50, which also includes Star Struck Dance Academy, Geoscape Solar, MFit Fitness Center, Susie Q's Hair Salon, Thrive Mental Health Resources, Philadelphia Mortgage Advisors and Affordable Storage.

For more information on karate classes, call 609-390-8000.

If you have an event you would like "In the Spotlight," email Deb Patterson at debipat72@gmail.com or call 609-272-7234.

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