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Published On: 8/2/12

Three martial arts taught at new Berlin school

By: Nathan Brunet, Staff Writer via Bayside Gazette
BERLIN — Teaching three separate forms of martial arts, Infinity Martial Arts, a training school that opened last month off Route 113, is headed by instructors who can offer an experience like no other in the area: the opportunity to compete in international tournaments.

The owners, brothers Tim and Mike Otwell, come from a family of martial artists and specialize in taekwondo, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and eskrima, an art that emphasizes weapon-based fighting.

Coming from the Baltimore area, the brothers, who were both introduced to martial arts before turning 10 years old, trained for years under Carlos Patalighug Jr., who runs a well-known martial arts school called Kick Connection in Pasadena, Md.

Those at Infinity Martial Arts still have a close, family-like, link to Kick Connection and representatives from the Pasadena school have come to Berlin and helped with instruction.

Both schools are the only two martial schools in Maryland that are certified through the International Taekwondo Federation. The ITF is recognized as one of the two Taekwondo powerhouses in the world, along with the World Taekwondo Federation.

“Once you get a black belt, you get a certificate from the actual federation,” said Tim, the older of the brothers. “You can take that certificate to anyone in the world and be recognized.”

Mental training and techniques used for unarmed self-defense combat are the focus of taekwondo, which is taught by Mike.

The 23-year-old also teaches Brazilian jiu-jitsu with Albert Birckhead, who travels from Glen Burnie, Md. every week.

Traditional Japanese jiu-jitsu relies on throwing opponents while standing up, while Brazilian jiu-jitsu is concerned with the ground game. Similar to wrestling, techniques used on the floor, known as grappling, are taught in the Brazilian alternative.

This form of jiu-jitsu is certified to be taught at the school by Renato Tavares, one of the foremost Brazilian jiu-jitsu experts in the world.

Each instructor of Brazilian jiu-jitsu has certain areas of expertise so that the learning experience is well rounded.

Tim is the instructor of eskrima, which is a form of self-defense that employs weapons, grappling and other techniques. Otwell's teachings are certified by the Cacoy Doce Pares World Federation, the governing body of eskrima.

Besides the certifications, further evidence of the brothers' teaching qualifications is their multiple regional, national and international championships.

If the International Olympic Committee allowed taekwondo artists who are not certified by the WTF to compete, Mike may have made an appearance at the ongoing summer games in London.

“If I could, I would have been all over that a long time ago,” Mike said.

Mike also has a 2-0 record in the official mixed martial arts record book using these martial arts styles and he plans to continue an MMA career.

Tim, 38, and a retired Maryland State Trooper, stopped competing about 12 years ago for a couple of reasons. He acknowledged, however, that his training also helped his work in law enforcement.

“My awareness as a martial artist certainly helped keep me safer over the years,” Tim said.

But not only was his body deteriorating from his work as a trooper, but Otwell also was getting to the point where he would have to compete against his students in tournaments.

“While I have a lot of pride in my accomplishments, it has always meant more to me to see my students succeed,” Tim said. And they have succeeded, so many times that he can’t even estimate how many competitions and honors they have won.

Though the training may seem intense, and at times it is, there are classes open for both beginners and advanced martial artist.

During beginner classes, which are mostly populated by children, the instructors take a lighter, albeit still serious, tone.

On break, instructors will mingle with their students, whether they are giving extra advice or simply playing around with toy swords.

In the fall, the brothers plan to hold an after-school program and will they will go to surrounding Berlin schools and pick children up for a martial arts class.

After time is given to eat a snack and do some homework, a class about one hour long will be held.

A summer camp will also be in discussion once the next season is near.

Infinity Martial Arts is open Monday through Friday, and is located off Route 113 behind Twisters.

Registration can be done at the school, by calling the school at 410-641-0419 or by visiting

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