We had the good fortune of connecting with Kim Yee and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kim, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
Like just about every other martial arts instructor in the world, I fell in love with the activity and thought I should try to find a way to make a living at it. I thought that if I did it for a living, I could just do martial arts all the time. But then I found out that there is so much more to running a business. Fortunately, my wife took over the business part, so that I could concentrate on the training, and devising a curriculum, and researching ways to help people get better, faster. I love the teaching, research, and training, and helping students improve themselves.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We started Karate West right after finishing college and getting married, and moving from WI to CO, That was in 1978. It was not easy getting started, but we always believed in the value of martial arts training for improving people’s lives, and kept pushing forward. There have been many challenges over the years, but it has always seemed worth it to figure out a way to keep going, and so far we have, for over 42 years. A lesson we have learned is that we can’t always do things the way we used to. Technology has made things like marketing methods change. Evolving societal norms make some approaches to teaching change. Things like pandemics get in the way of some continuity of systems, but they make us adapt, and it is good to find new ways to do things. Physically, we can’t do all that we used to, but we believe in the value of keeping active. Some people say that they are amazed that we are still doing martial arts, and we aren’t sure if they are saying they admire us, or just think we are crazy. “You don’t stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing.” We believe that everyone can do martial arts, and benefit from it. We have students ranging in age from 4 years old up; our eldest was still taking classes in his 80s. Some people come in as natural athletes, and some not so coordinated; some come in acting bold, and others with little confidence; some like keeping to themselves, others enjoying the social aspect of doing the activity with others; something that’s great about Karate West is that all can thrive here.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We don’t go out much, so probably aren’t the best ones to give advice about places to go. We love the parks in and around Fort Collins, and Old Town, and attending a variety of performing arts shows at Lincoln Center.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My wife and partner, Lou Anne
Lou Anne Yee, Brad Suinn, Brian Williams of Eathan’s Photography