New martial arts business opens in Isanti

Payton Bartlet (left), Alexis Bartlet (front) and Zachary Bartlet train in a sword fighting martial arts called Haidong Gumdo.

Payton Bartlet (left), Alexis Bartlet (front) and Zachary Bartlet train in a sword fighting martial arts called Haidong Gumdo.

There’s a new business in town that has customers leaving kicking and punching.

Robert Frankovich, owner and master instructor, brought his martial arts schools White Tiger Martial Arts and Pine Tree Taekwondo to Isanti.

Frankovich had been running community education classes in Braham the past four years.

He decided to start in Isanti to give the business a permanent home and summer location.

He teaches taekwondo and a form of sword fighting called Haidong Gumdo to children and adults. He says his school is different from others.

“(Our school) is not a sports school,” Frankovich said. “If people really wish to do tournaments, they’re welcome to go and do them. We just don’t put a focus on it. The key on that one is it’s become too much about winning and getting trophies, and not earning things and developing and growing.”

Frankovich would rather focus on the training and development, he added.

He first got into training in martial arts after watching the old TV series “Kung Fu.” He decided to take the only martial arts community education class in taekwondo when he started college in Hibbing and continued training from there.

“It was one of those things,” Frankovich said. “Once I saw the TV show and watched it, and a couple years of seeing that, I had to find somewhere to train. And it was really one of those parts, it’s either train in taekwondo or don’t train at all because that was all that was offered. It’s been great. If it hadn’t been for taekwondo, I would have never made it through college.”

Now, Frankovich is teaching his students the same discipline.

Owner and head instructor Robert Frankovich displays an actual sword that would be used in combat. Photos by Urmila Ramakrishnan

Owner and head instructor Robert Frankovich displays an actual sword that would be used in combat. Photos by Urmila Ramakrishnan

He currently has six students 8 years and older training in Taekwondo and seven 12 years and older training in Haidong Gumdo on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Isanti Community Center.

He hopes to attract enough students to rent the center four times a week instead of the current two days.

His favorite part about teaching is seeing the light bulbs go off, Frankovich said.

Two of his students, Colton Bartlet, 8, and Payton Bartlet, 10, pretend they are characters from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” before training.

The two started training after their brother, Zachary Bartlet, 15, pretended he was a Ninja Turtle when he was younger.

His mother, Tanya Bartlet put him in training so he wouldn’t hurt himself. The rest of the family joined.

The brothers, their sister Alexis Bartlet and their mother enjoy the better knowledge and applications of the skills.

Frankovich encourages parents and children who are interested to try it for free for a month before enrolling.

He also owns three other locations in Brooklyn Center, Duluth and Northfield that would be available for members at no extra cost.

Payton Bartlet (bottom) and Colton Bartlet (top) practice sparring.

Payton Bartlet (bottom) and Colton Bartlet (top) practice sparring.

“The martial arts industry tends to be about selling memberships, selling programs, brown belt club, green belt club, masters club,” Frankovich said. “Sell these and sign a contract for $4,000. So over the course of four years, you pay $4,000. Well, if you never come back, I still get the money. That helps my pocketbook, but it doesn’t help you. I don’t do the sell. You’re here because you want to train. It’s unlike hockey, where you have to buy $500 worth of hockey gear before you make it on the ice and then a kid skates two games and doesn’t want to do it.”

For more information, contact Frankovich at 612-554-7458.

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