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Milton Good Neighbor Podcast


Renshi Matt was interviewed about Crabapple Martial Arts Academy’s long standing services to the community.


Have you ever wondered about the relationship between martial arts and character development? We sit down with C. Matthew White, the force behind Crabapple Martial Arts Academy, who shares his remarkable journey from a law enforcement officer to a martial arts instructor. Matthew’s unique perspective on community service forged through his experiences in law enforcement and martial arts, leads him to adopt a proactive methodology in his academy.

Matthew walks us through his academy’s approach, emphasizing the importance of character development, health, and wellness among their students, and fostering a community of respect and support. Hear firsthand how Matthew and his team navigated the challenges of 2020, adapting their teaching methods amidst a global pandemic, and not just surviving, but thriving and expanding their reach. Listen in as Matthew deconstructs common martial arts stereotypes and gives us an insightful glimpse into the inner workings of his martial arts academy. Be inspired by Matthew’s story of resilience, adaptability, and his unwavering dedication to making a positive impact on his community.



Transcript of the interview

This is the Good Neighbor Podcast, the place where local businesses and neighbors come together. Here’s your host, Stacey.

Stacey Poehler: Hey everybody. We are chatting with Matthew White from Crabapple Martial Arts Academy in Alpharetta. Welcome Matthew.

C Matthew White: Hey, thanks for having me today, Stacey.

Stacey Poehler: Yeah. So why don’t you start by telling us about your martial arts and karate academy there in Alpharetta?

C Matthew White: Absolutely. Crabapple Martial Arts is Alpharetta, Milton, Roswell, and Canton’s premier Martial Arts and Character Development Academy. But beyond just martial arts and karate, we really focus on overall character development for all our students, whether they’re children, teens, or adults. We do that through traditional and modern approaches to martial arts, character development, as well as health and wellness insights as well.

Stacey Poehler: Awesome. Awesome. So, talk about your journey. I mean, is karate something that you’ve been doing since you were a kid? Um, you know, how’d you get into this?

C Matthew White: So, I’ve been in the martial arts for over 32 years now. I started when I was a child and it’s been one of the main constants throughout my entire life. I trained in karate all through high school and college.  When I graduated college though, I went into law enforcement for several years. So, I can speak firsthand on how the self-defense side of the martial arts works because unfortunately, as a police officer, I have had multiple opportunities to use my training. And one thing about working in law enforcement, it’s a reactive way to serve your community, and I wanted to be more proactive.

And after having years of martial arts training, I said, you know, the best way for me to proactively change my community and serve my community is to work with people before they have a hard time. So, working with children, working with families, and adults to help shape them in a better way to help avoid bullying, teach them conflict resolution, teach them how to not be victims, how to take care of themselves.  I felt that was a better way to serve.

And so, we opened our doors in 2013, and we’ve been growing, growing, growing ever since for over 10 years.

Stacey Poehler: Awesome. Can you talk about some of the myths or misconceptions that are out there about martial arts and what you guys are doing?

C Matthew White: Absolutely. Unfortunately, there is a lot of stereotypes that come with running a martial arts academy. A lot of people think that we’re just in here yelling, kicking, punching and everything else. However, our classes are much more involved. We approach everything from an exercise science, sports physiology standpoint in our training methods, as well as stay up to date on the current and most effective teaching methods as well. So, through that, we really create an environment that is both rewarding as well as encouraging while pushing our students. And it’s not just about blocking, kicking, punching. It’s about developing a student’s character and teaching them various ways to build their confidence and self-esteem along with their karate skill sets. So along with that, we have built a large community within our school. We really consider ourselves like a dojo community, a dojo family. We support each other both inside these four walls and outside these four walls.  As instructors, we know not just the students, but we know their whole families. Because for us to serve our students best, we need to know what’s going on. How are they doing at school? What’s going on at home? Are they struggling with certain things? And so, the deeper relationships we have with the family, the better we can serve our students through all the different phases of life.

Stacey Poehler: Awesome. Awesome.  Can you talk a little bit about your program? And, you know, if somebody was new and bringing, you know, like a 6 or 7 year old there for the 1st time, you know, what, what should they expect? And, um, you know, how do you kind of introduce them and you know, how many times a week do kids come all that kind of stuff?

C Matthew White: Absolutely. So whenever we have a new student come in whether they’ve trained before or not, they start with a one on one with one of our instructors And that one on one lesson is especially for a brand new student. What we’re doing is we’re preparing them for their first class with everybody else and that helps make it so it’s not overwhelming, they feel like they have a little bit of basic understanding of how the class will go and what to expect.

Additionally, what we do then is we start them in our character program. So, we will give a student homework after their very first class. Things that they must do at home; like clean up after themselves, make their bed, find things that they can do to help mom and dad at home. And that’s how they earn their very first belt, their white belt.

And the reason we do this is because we really focus on reward versus punishment to help mold our students and create good outcomes and create long lasting skill sets and habits. So everything has to be earned and we do it through constant positive reinforcement. So, after that first class, they’re going to go home with homework and start building those habits.

Now when they come in for their next class. The instructor will meet them at the door, show them around the classroom, and then ask them about their homework. And during that, we will introduce them to other students and to the other instructors because in a typical class will have 3 to 5 instructors on the mat. We like to keep the student to teacher ratio rather favorable and we don’t like being outnumbered that much. And then over the course of their time with us, in the first couple months, we do a lot of, I call it our onboarding process to really kind of help the parents and the students navigate and learn all the nuances of traditional martial arts training.

All of our courtesy and respect aspects as well as building their relationships while they learn what we expect of them both here and at home.

Stacey Poehler: Awesome. Awesome. Um, can you talk about, you know, maybe some of the challenges or obstacles you’ve had along the way in the last 10 years and, um, you know, how you work through those.

C Matthew White: Absolutely. So much like every business, 2020 was a challenge, right? A “Black Swan” event like the COVID 19 pandemic really tests what the foundations of running your business and as well as the community that you’ve built. So, a little overview. In 2020 and 2021, 70 percent of the martial arts industry closed, went out of business, gone forever. And during that time, because of the value we provide our students, the relationships we built, we didn’t close, we actually grew during the COVID pandemic. Now, we had to change the way we operated, obviously, because when we were shut down, we couldn’t have in person classes, so we moved to virtual training, and at the height of that, we expanded to where we had students in eight different states outside of Georgia, that were training on a daily basis.

And so, we had to adapt quickly. We never missed a single day of classes, and we were providing class at a much higher rate than we normally do just to. provide it for what our students needed and really take care of them. And so, while 70 percent of our industry closed, we grew. That was probably the biggest thing because much like everybody, we looked around and went, Oh no, what are we going to do? But we adapted. We overcame it quickly. And now here we are. Now, unfortunately, as the world reopened, we didn’t keep those students in neighboring states, some of them stayed for over a year with us, but then we started telling them, hey, you know, to really improve your training, it would be beneficial for you to find somebody close to you.  So you can have face to face, you can actually be hands on and things like that.

Stacey Poehler: Awesome. Awesome. Sounds like, you know, you have a good following and, you know, you’ve been able to really develop the relationships that, you know, help to kind of, you know, sustain you and help your business grow.  And like you said, 70 percent of them closed.

C Matthew White: Absolutely. I mean, most like most businesses, it’s all about relationships, right? And one of our core values in our school is all about building relationships. Because if you want to have influence and really shape and serve your students, they must know, like, and trust you.  And so everything we do is centered around building positive long term relationships.

Stacey Poehler: What do you like to do for fun? I mean, I’m guessing that being fit and, and probably still doing martial arts is fun for you, but, um, what do you like to do when you’re not doing that you know, outside of working?

C Matthew White: When I have personal alone time, I love to go outside. I really enjoy mountain biking, and spending time outdoors, when my body will allow me after all these years.  Outside of that, I’m married and I have two young children. So, I spend a lot of time with my family and our dog.

And then other than that, we’re very active in our church and with our extended family. There’s never a dull moment.

Stacey Poehler: Awesome. Awesome. Is there anything else that you’d like to share about your business that you haven’t had a chance yet to tell us?

C Matthew White: The biggest thing with our academy is, you know, we really serve our students from the standpoint of people who come here not necessarily looking for martial arts, they’re looking for ways to fill gaps in their development, right?  Are they struggling with weight loss? Are their kids having a hard time focusing? We have a strong track record of really hitting those benchmarks. The martial arts are the method, but the outcomes are not about fighting, right? We are more involved in all those character sides. And that’s really what is important.  Our kids are safer now than when we were growing up, right? And so, what do they need? Well, they need, if you look at all the research, our kids are struggling with interpersonal relationships. They’re struggling with confidence.

You know, the bullying rate is through the roof. The suicide rate is through the roof. And so how can we best help our kids, right? Well, let’s put them in a community where they’re working for something. Let’s put them in a community that is all centered around positivity that builds them up, not breaks them down, not judges them because of the clothes they wear. A community that reinforces them regardless of if they’re athletically inclined or not, an environment where regardless of their physical abilities or disabilities, they can all achieve greatness. And that’s really the biggest thing for us is that. Well, yes, it says martial arts on the marquee. That’s, that’s just a part of who and what we do.

Stacey Poehler: Awesome. Awesome. Where can folks find you? Can you share your location and contact info?

C Matthew White: Absolutely. We’re in the heart of Crabapple by the Silos. We’re in the same shopping center as OneLife Fitness and Alpine Bakery. The best way to find us is on our website, which is, or through any of our various social media under the name Crabapple Martial Arts Academy.

Stacey Poehler: Well, thank you so much today, Matthew. Awesome.

C Matthew White: Thanks for having me.

Stacey Poehler: That’s great. Thank you for listening to the Good Neighbor podcast Milton and more to nominate your favorite local businesses to be featured on the show, go to

End of Interview 

Find out more about us and those who work at Crabapple Martial Arts here

To learn more about our children’s programs you can also look here

Good Neighbor Podcast logo and Crabapple Martial Arts Academy has been selected the nation’s #1 martial arts schools for SIX YEARS IN A ROW by the American Budokai International!

Founded in 2013 by Mr. C. Matthew White a 5th degree Black Belt in Karate and 6th degree Black Belt in Jiu Jitsu, and Master Instructor, Crabapple Martial Arts and Karate lessons for pre-school children ages 4-6, and elementary age kids ages 7 and up, are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need – specialized for their age group – for school excellence and later success in life.

Crabapple Martial Arts Adult Karate training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at or call directly at 770-645-0930. You can also visit our website at

About C. Matthew White, Renshi:  Matt is a fifth-degree black belt in a traditional Japanese and Okinawan Martial Arts – Shuri Ryu Karatedo. He is also a sixth-degree black belt in Japanese Jiu Jitsu – Shintoyoshin Kai Jiu Jitsu, and a master instructor with the title of Renshi, which means Scholar in Japanese.  Matt has a bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Physiology. He has been training and teaching martial arts for over 27 years and has owned Crabapple Martial Arts Academy since 2013. Renshi White is a motivational speaker and educator and teaches seminars in bullying, business, and martial arts training, around the world.

Crabapple Martial Arts Academy Headquarters is in Alpharetta, Georgia at 12315 Crabapple Road., Suite 124, Alpharetta GA 30004. You can locate the Chief Instructor, Sensei Robert Reed there or directly at (770) 645-0930.