Master of his art

Farshad Azad

Photo By allie colosky

Farshad Azad believes success can be evaluated based on one’s positive impact on society. Following that philosophy, Azad, martial-arts master and owner of Azad’s Martial Arts Family Center in Chico, has been extremely successful. Azad recently earned the rank of an eighth-degree black belt in the Korean art of hapkido. Since opening his studio in 1985, Azad has shared his physical, spiritual and mental understanding of martial arts with students ages 5 to 95, including classes in traditional martial arts from Korea, Japan, China and the Philippines; those aimed at personal protection; and others tailored to disabled students. The Iranian-born master has worked with the Sunshine Connection, Chico State Advisory Board and Public Safety Commission, to name a few local groups, and helps disadvantaged and troubled youth to better their lives and states of mind. For more information about classes or the studio, check out

What does it take to earn the rank of eighth-degree black belt?

What it takes to get to any rank is to put one foot in front of the other. As you stay in training, it’s the result of perseverance, dedication, and a lot of hard work. You have to have learned some good techniques, you have to have good habits in your life for physical and mental conditioning; these are the basics to earn a black belt. The rank shows how serious you are. People need to be able to walk the talk because martial arts is a lifestyle.

What has been the highlight of your career?

The single most important factor that I felt really excited about was when I had my first blind student. Everyone had told him to go get a dog, but my brain works differently. I thought, “Here’s a challenge. Here is a real moment of growth.” After two classes where he did well, he brought me 12 other blind students. They trained with me for about two years, and none of my black belts could touch them. I taught them to use their senses and feelings to develop that sixth sense that they really have. We find difficulties in our lives and put them in a package of personal growth.

What goals do you have for the future?

I’m really involved in the university and I want to give back because they have such a wide impact. We are continually creating ambassadors to help change their world for the better. If you can make an impact on one person’s self-esteem, they will go and do better things and then that impact spreads. So I want to keep helping people and serving people because that’s what martial arts is. I just want to do it better.