For Brunswick resident Vinay Khurana, learning martial arts turned out to be a better method to avoid conflicts than to succeed in them.
“I started basically when I was 9 years old. I was getting bullied in school a lot, and I started taking karate, which was offered there,” Khurana said. “... It helped me cope with those situations better. Not necessarily knowing how to fight but avoiding fighting, sometimes, just by showing more confidence and knowing how to handle those situations in a way where you can deescalate it without showing weakness.”
Hailing from Costa Mesa and Irvine, both in southern California, Khurana moved to Brunswick in 2017. His brother, who had moved to the Golden Isles sometime before, introduced him to the area.
Growing up in California, however, he’d had difficulty dealing with people.
“I was real shy as a kid and wouldn’t even look someone in the eye,” Khurana said. “What attracted me (to karate), basically, was ‘The Karate Kid’ movies, to be honest with you.
“I saw those, and it was very relatable, the story was very relatable. Something about that, I felt it would be a great thing to get into, martial arts. To learn self-defense but also to feel confident, which it certainly did.”
While martial arts certainly helped in the self-defense department, the self-improvement benefits proved to be more helpful.
“That really helped me a lot with my self-confidence, it taught me a lot about self-respect and how to also defend myself and stand up for others,” Khurana said. “It helped me a lot with developing coordination and skills that I was challenged with. I was told I had a learning disability, and that really helped with sharpening my mind.”
That his training in karate would provide a means to avoid confrontation entirely wasn’t immediately apparent, but Khurana said he learned firsthand how a shift in attitude and confidence can have a major impact on normally tense situations.
Using words and demeanor to deescalate is always preferable to getting in a fight, he said, which always leads to bad outcomes. Respect not just for yourself but for others is key, he said.
“It’s this kind of thing called verbal judo, and there’s actually formal training in that,” Khurana said. “You’re not necessarily being careful with a person, but you’re not feeding into that argument with them and it’s hard for them to escalate it.”
Seeing the change in himself, Khurana said he wanted to help other people see the same results. He’s been in the fitness training business for more than 20 years, along the way broadening his scope to include Muay Tai, Wushu, kickboxing, yoga and suspension training, among other things.
“My goal was to try to help people get fit, healthy and build self-confidence, especially relating to those who struggle or who’ve never felt like they’re as good as others or were treated badly because I can relate to that,” Khurana said.
Fitness training started as a personal passion, and helping other people along the same path has been just as rewarding, he said.
In moving to Brunswick, he found a niche for his brand of personal, individual training at Brunswick Boxing in the downtown area, and the rest is history.
“I did like the vibe of this place and the town and people. They’re just really down-to-earth, very welcoming. It reminds me more of the Andy Griffith Show, to be honest,” Khurana said.
“And I mean that as a compliment, I don’t know it will be taken. Everyone cares about each other. It’s more personal here. You don’t get that in a bigger area, so it’s nice to have that. I feel like it’s a family here.”
Coastal People appears Tuesdays. Contact Taylor Cooper at email@example.com or at 912-265-8320, ext. 324 to suggest a person for a column.