There’s a new martial arts centre in Steveston. After eighteen years at its former location, this past summer Sirota’s Alchymy Martial Arts & Life Skills Centre moved and expanded to a 6,300 square foot space, and is now the biggest Taekwondo school in Metro Vancouver.
Master Michael Sirota, owner of Sirota’s Alchymy, had searched for over a year to relocate his business when he discovered the building was slated for demolition in the rapidly changing Olympic Oval area. He found the perfect new home for Sirota’s Alchymy on Trites Road. With extensive renovations now complete, Sirota is thrilled with the spacious facility which includes a fully matted deluxe floor, new training equipment, a lounge with televised ‘live’ training, and complimentary Wi-Fi for parents.
Born in the former Soviet Union, Sirota moved to Edmonton when he was young and relocated to Vancouver as a teenager. As a child he took up Taekwondo and began competing in national-level championships. He smiled when he told me that after high school he did exactly what he instructs his students to avoid; he bypassed post-secondary education and pursued martial arts training. At age 22 he opened Sirota’s Alchymy and has never looked back. In fact he has been so successful with his business that he started a second Vancouver location (on Victoria Street) two years ago.
What is alchymy? Sirota defines it as the art of transformation through personal empowerment which is the heart of his company’s philosophy. For Sirota, this encompasses self-esteem, self-confidence, inner drive and personal pride. The centre has various programs and requirements integrated within the curriculum to see each child grow. This includes development at school, hence the lawn signs you may have seen “martial arts for all…. kick your child’s grades up.”
Sirota emphasizes that parents should do their homework to find the best martial arts program for their child. He often hears stories about children who registered in a class based on a facility’s proximity to their home or the fees, and notes this can backfire as the chosen martial arts centre may not have the resources to work with that child.
Sirota’s Alchymy was the first martial arts centre in Richmond to introduce pre-school age martial arts classes. The Tiny Tiger program is designed to teach young children how to achieve their personal best, as well as foster self-confidence and courage at an early age.
A variety of classes are also offered for children, youth, and adults. Family classes, scheduled twice weekly, are a unique way for children and parents to enjoy physical activity together. The selection of classes is vast and one wonders how Sirota manages to carve out enough hours in a day, let alone run two martial art centres. In a gentle way he laughs and makes it seem effortless. Not only does he teach, along with his highly skilled instructors, but he is also responsible for much of the administrative work including applying his savvy marketing skills.
Sirota has been in the forefront of pioneering, creating and implementing martial arts and self-defense programs for people with various special needs and disabilities honouring his company’s goal to facilitate personal empowerment in all members of society. Taekwondo is the most popular martial art in the world and Sirota was proud to see it become recognized as a full medal sport at the 2000 Summer Olympics. He is actively working towards seeing the same status applied to the sport at the Paralympic level.
In addition to offering martial arts and self-defense programs at Sirota’s Alchymy, Sirota frequently provides instruction to elementary and secondary schools, corporations, and various others groups and conferences.
Sirota’s Alchymy is also a unique place to celebrate a birthday. Included in their party package is a private party room, a martial arts class for the guests and the opportunity for the birthday boy or girl to break a board and cut the birthday cake with a real sword. Sirota’s Alchymy takes care of the set-up, food distribution, gift openings, clean up and child management. Parents, this is your chance to enjoy the party – so bring the food, your camera and sit back and relax.
When Sirota has the chance to take vacations they often involve humanitarian fundraising projects which are very important to him. One fundraising initiative allowed the school to purchase a container of 110 wheelchairs which were distributed in Vietnam. Other money has been raised to benefit orphanages in Mexico, Tibet and the Dominican Republic. Sirota has yet another philanthropic idea percolating which he will reveal imminently.
Martial Arts & Life Skills Centre
110 – 12280 Trites Road