Grandmaster Mitchell Ellis during his June 3 promotion ceremony at which he received his 9th Degree Black Belt in taekwondo.

Mitchell Ellis, Dean of Students and therapeutic martial arts instructor for Summit Academy – Columbus, was promoted as a Grandmaster in Taekwondo with a 9th Degree Black Belt through the Dragon Taekwondo Association on June 3 in Columbus, Ohio. There are fewer than 300 taekwondo grandmasters worldwide, according to Cheongnyong-yu Taekwondo, which archives books, blog posts, videos and worksheets about taekwondo.

Ellis has come a long way since his days as a boy growing up in Boca Raton, Fla.

“I used to get beat up every day from bullies in the neighborhood. My four sisters would step in and defend me,” says Ellis, the family’s middle child.

While the bullying that spanned Ellis’ childhood from ages 5 to 8 has long passed, it inspired him to learn self-defense. Boxing lessons led to judo lessons and eventually to taekwondo.

Sensei Mitchel Ellis instructs students at Summit Academy Community School – Columbus in therapeutic martial arts.

Sensei Ellis has more than 50 years of martial arts training, much under the guidance and teaching of the late grandmaster, H.U. Lee.  He has trained with U.S. Special Forces, U.S. Secret Service and the Korean Rock Army. He holds multiple world records in board breaking, including 25 boards in 2.2 seconds, 100 boards in 9.7 seconds, 480 boards in one minute and 3,362 boards in one hour.

“It does take a lot of time. It takes a lot of dedication,” says Sensei Ellis, explaining that sheer aging and longevity can end a martial artist’s journey to earning a 9th degree or greater black belt.

At Summit Academy, where Sensei Ellis is entering his 10th year of teaching therapeutic martial arts, students typically acquire enough knowledge and skill to avoid or protect themselves in dangerous situations, he says. However, he emphasizes, “It’s not about fighting, but more about character. Students learn about discipline and respect and how to work through different situations in life as well as school, in a more peaceful and understanding way.”

Grandmaster Mitchell Ellis is one of fewer than 300 martial artists worldwide to achieve his level of expertise in taekwondo. Sensei Ellis, who is Dean of Students at Summit Academy – Columbus, earned his 9th degree black belt on June 3.

Sensei Ellis has not only rallied interest in therapeutic martial arts from his students, but also school staff members, most of whom train under him as part of their professional development. Among them, Principal Cheryl Elliott is expected to soon earn her black belt.

Sensei Ellis says this participation by school teachers and administrators helps them experience lessons their students learn in the dojo. There, therapeutic martial arts is taught as a key curriculum component, one that helps students succeed in the classroom and beyond.

Sensei Ellis describes teaching Summit Academy students as his greatest achievement, exceeding that of attaining grandmaster status and a 9th degree black belt in taekwondo.

“I enjoy helping people in general, but especially kids,” he says. “Watching their eyes light up when they learn something new or get a new belt is far more rewarding than anything I’ve ever accomplished in my career.”

Sensei Ellis runs both Dragon E’s Black Belt Academy in Westerville and Dragon E’s West Belt Academy in Plain City.

Enjoy this video created in celebration of Grandmaster Mitchell Ellis’ achievement.