Cosens Martial Arts invites students to learn self-defense, lifelong skills


Black belt student Emily Rummer spars with Coach Leis on Thursday, March 3.

Building confidence, learning defense skills, developing patience and having fun are just a few of the life skills guaranteed by the coaches at Cosens Martial Arts.

Cosens MMA offers Muay Thai Kickboxing, Taekwondo, Western Style Boxing, Krav Maga, Karate, Wrestling, Jiu Jitsu and Judo. It also offers life skills programs that are martial arts-based for children.

The Mount Pleasant location has occupied the property at 2206 S. Mission St. since last year. 

Cosens was started by Charlie Cosens, a cage fighter who turned into a life skills coach. Now there are four other branches across Michigan in Bay City, Midland, Grand Blanc and Saginaw. A location in Flushing is also in the process of being created. 

Kevin Heinrich, right, stares down Aaron Montoya-Pego during a game on Thursday, March 3. The game that was being played involved students racing to do a backward roll and hit the pad at their feet before their opponent.

Coach Tom O’Connor from Detroit grew up doing martial arts and now has decades of experience. Over time, he developed a passion for teaching.

“I enjoy working with the next generation. I want to help the next generation get physically fit... get confident (and) I want them to have really good self-discipline,” O’Connor said. 

There are 180 students attending classes at the Mount Pleasant location. Most are children, but about 50 of those students are adults. 

Farmington senior Cameron Johnson said he takes classes to learn self-defense and for the exercise. He said the classes also teach him more about determination and hard work. 

“I’m very confident in being able to handle myself. My favorite part of the class is actually the live action portion where we apply what we learn and go up against other students in the class," Johnson said. "I recommend that everyone come and join. You will be in shape, learn self-defense and it’s just something exciting to do.” 

O’Connor offered some entry level self-defense tips for Central Michigan University students. He said it all starts with being aware of your surroundings and being prepared for the worst-case scenario.

Cosens offers techniques such as how to deliver and block a punch in its introductory level class to help students.

While learning to defend themselves, O'Connor said students will also be taught how to focus on accomplishments. The coaches test adult students quarterly and all students once a month on their technique.

“We always tell kids, 'You got to focus,' but to really learn how to focus is a whole different skill set," O'Connor said. "That's what I would say is our biggest advantage for students is that we can show you how to focus and to block out some of the distractions.” 

He said joining is easy. The program is structured so students can start anytime. Those interested do not need to wait for a new session to begin. 

“The lifetime benefit of martial arts is fitness. It's self-confidence. It's patience. There's a ton of benefits from doing this sport,” O’Connor said. 

For more information, you can contact O’Connor at 989-317-3200 or visit its website

Black belt student Louis Harris spars with Coah Leis on Thursday, March 3.