HUDSON — Fifteen years ago, Regis Lima borrowed $500 from the man who taught him tae kwon do to move from Brazil to Florida to teach martial arts.
He eventually opened RL Martial Arts and on Saturday — despite the doubts his friends had when he left home — he celebrates the business' 10th anniversary.
Lima had visited Florida for martial arts tournaments and called it paradise. His friends called him crazy.
"You don't know English," they reminded him.
He moved anyway, learning English by watching movies with subtitles over and over. He worked at first in rec centers, teaching martial arts to kids whose parents encouraged him to open his own school.
"And that's what I did," said Lima, 40.
The school has classes in tae kwon do, tae kwon do Olympic sparring and Brazilian jujitsu. It also has an after-school program. Lima, who has studied martial arts since he was 16, said the discipline is for more than fitness.
"Coming from a house where my parents were divorced, I didn't have my dad around," he said. "My instructor was that father figure. That changed me. I became confident."
Martial arts students also learn self-control, he said, and discipline, respect and social skills.
"Kids nowadays don't have social skills," Lima said. "I don't blame the kids. I blame us. Kids' faces are shoved in an iPad."
Martial arts can change that, he said, because sports in general give kids a chance to interact.
"If I can change at least one kid, I'm happy," he said.
Celebrate the RL Martial Arts anniversary from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at the school, 9914 SR 52, Hudson.
There will be food and drinks, a DJ, bounce houses and free martial arts classes. For information, call (727) 868-1188 or visit rlmartialarts.com.