Testimonials

Posted By :    SSG Wesley Gennick  (wesley.gennick@us.army.mil)
Posted :    7/12/2014
Comments :    The military is a pretty small community. I had served with COL. Harden when he was a Captain and we deployed to Bosnia-Hertzgovina together in 2000-2001. Doc' was asked to teach a Karate class in Tuzla (near Sarajevo) - by the MWR (recreation department for the ARMY) and it was hilarious as he started with four soldiers and by the end of the rotation it was "THE" thing to do on the base and when he left there must have been a hundred guys out there in P.T. gear learning kicks and punchs, rolls, and wrist stuff. The guy is just a world class instructor and "The Very Best Officer" with whom I have ever served under...he always went the extra "10" miles for his medics and soldiers. What a guy! Hooah!
Posted By :    Dwight Harden  (harded@nationwide.com)
Posted :    7/30/2013
Comments :    Western Masters is Dane Harden. Dane Harden is a small town kid , who had his small share of bullying and didnt like it . He pleaded his case and , his parents , who werent rich agreed to spend a bit to send him to the YMCA for Karate lessons . Karate Studios or Dojos were non existent then . That was in the 70's . Those were the days of KungFu on TV, Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris just getting started and Billy Jack . Fast Forward to now . He is still at it , practiced to perfection , a master of the art , and teacher of what hes learned in 4 decades . I could not be prouder of what he has accomplished with that once skinny unmuscled frame . He has a gift for detail , a knack for teaching and for anyone lucky enough to be his student , dont give less than all youve got and he will mold you . There is no better instructor in the business , no better fighter in the game and no better athlete in the competition . You are in the dojo with a rare commodity if you are in Western Masters . Give it your all and enjoy the ride . WM and Dane will not disappoint . Im his brother , but if you dont believe me you only have to look at his belt . It aint black , its barely gray these days and its well worn and doesnt need any red stripes on it to tell you this guy is good , real good .
Posted By :    Craig  (craign@yahoo.com)
Posted :    7/27/2013
Comments :    I have previously trained in Daito Ryu Aiki-Ju-Jitsu in New Jersey and I am so happy to have found a wonderful Aikido Dojo here in Abingdon. Harden Sensei' skill, teachings, and experience base are stunning and I fell lucky to have found such a Master in a small town. Where I lived previously there were literally over one hundred Dojo. Western Masters is by far one of the nicest with a curriculum and skill that are top notch. In Jersey this caliber of training would have been "triple" the cost and frankly I don't think even at that price would you get the very real sense that at this school they really do care about you and not your checkbook and long term contracts! In closing - I recommend this Dojo as one of the very best I have ever seen "ANYWHERE!" and I have been to a lot of schools. Osu - Craig
Posted By :    Christy Fleet
Posted :    4/23/2013
Comments :    I attended the Ladies Self Defense course this spring and it, like the other Western Masters Martial Arts programs, was excellent. As a biology professor, I appreciate the way the techniques are grounded in an understanding of physics and anatomy. As a martial arts student, I appreciate the applicability of the techniques and the ways that students are both encouraged and challenged in their learning.
Posted By :    Andrea  (AndyC@gmail.com)
Posted :    4/21/2013
Comments :    I attended the first two sessions of the Ladies Self Program and they were in a word phenomenal! I work as an Attorney in Virginia and so I truly see the value in this sort of course offering. I was amazed at the detail put into this program. COL. Harden started each session with statiscal analysis from the FBI website on violent crime. We practiced skill sets and awareness drills and focused on evade resist and escape lessons at every session. COL. Harden's wife taught an outstanding basic handgun familiarization class and then follwed up with protection dog and demonstrations with their very well trained dog "Mr. Wyatt"...Ha! All in all this course was "Just Amazing"...Thank you for your kindness, wisdom, and also for your decades of military service! "A GREAT CLASS!"....Sincerely - Andrea.
Posted By :    Billy Swoager, Grace Martial Arts & Fitness LLC  (billyswoager@yahoo.com)
Posted :    3/31/2013
Comments :    I have had the pleasure of knowing COL Harden (or "Doc" as we call him)for the last 6 years as a member of the Army National Guard who I had the pleasure of serving with in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I have studied Martial Arts for the last 20 years and decided to open up my own dojo this past Fall to serve a need I saw in my community, but really had no desire to affiliated with any organizations due to the fact that I had seen organizations more concerned with making money than actually teaching students practical skills they could use to defend themselves. That's how i felt until i talked to Doc about his dojo and their standards, needless to say I found a kindred spirit and we became Western Masters Martial Arts affiliate school in December of 2012. This affiliation has given my students the chance to train with world class martial artists and my Tae Kwon Do and Jiu jitsu students the chance to cross train in arts like Aikido and sword. My students and I look forward to many more years of training with Sensei Harden and i personally feel blessed to have the opportunity to grow as an instructor.
Posted By :    Loren Summers  (summers@hotmail.com)
Posted :    3/31/2013
Comments :    My son is a martial arts student and we attended a tournament and had the chance to see Mr. Harden perform a routine (?) - I don't know much about martial arts, but I have seen enough to know when I am witnessing someone who is truly gifted at what they do. His movements were flowing like dance, un-naturally powerful, and his humility about it was charming. It was wonderful to see and he seemed to be such a pleasant man. I enjoyed the experience very much and it made my day seeing what these arts could offer my children!
Posted By :    Angela Cvetkovski
Posted :    1/6/2013
Comments :    I believe a large part of my job as a parent is to ensure my kids have the skills to prepare them for the real world. I know there are going to be times I will not be there with them and I want to ensure they can take care of themselves. So, the rule was made... you need to have your black belt prior to graduating high school. I know my 15 year old daughter needed to have a say in the selection process so together we visited several area dojos. And when we came to Western Masters, it was obvious to both of us this is where she belonged. My daughter has thrived under the instruction of Master Harden and his staff. She is learning skills that not only builds her confidence but may one day save her life. It is inspiring to have an instructor with Colonel Harden's credentials teaching in our region, but even more impressive is the honor and integrity in which this man runs his martial arts school. I am sure when my daughter is one day backpacking through Europe or starting out on her own in a city far away, I will sleep a "little" easier knowing she trained with the best at WMMA!
Posted By :    Bruce E. Feigenbaum  (slumguy@yahoo.com)
Posted :    11/19/2012
Comments :    I am going to paraphrase a conversation I had with another martial arts master and several other Black Belts. I am doing this because it needs to be said. I recently attended Black Belt tests and seminars at the "OLD SCHOOL" dojo in Cumberland, Maryland and was so refreshed to see standards that far exceeded the norm and harkened me back to the days of blood and guts karate. I have known the founder of Western Masters since I was a white belt in 1979 and without a dought, Sensei Harden has left an indelable positive mark on martial arts in our area and in his influence is obvious at any local tournament. Many martial artists are "excellent" at their one art. Master Harden is excellent at Aikido, Tae Kwon Do, and the Samurai Sword. The older guys, "all know him" the younger one's have mostly never heard of him? The reason for this is simple - he has spent his lifetime in the military. Only within the last few years has he reintroduced himself with the local martial arts scene. He has been a warrior, a flight surgeon, a Colonel and his skill sets in martial arts is frankly "JUST OFF THE CHART AMAZING"...the teaching is extraordinary because of his wealth of experience the teaching literally comes to life with zen stories, medicine, war stories and SKILL! He is a commercial martiat artist but he has a day job and at heart he is a soldier and a warrior still - Of the "Old School!" I spoke to Master Garry Holman after the recent test in Cumberland, Maryland and he echoed my thoughts and views and actually added to them. "I watched the old guy move and the only word that came to mind was, wow!" I agree, WOW! If you are looking for something extraordinary in the martial arts - you can stop now!
Posted By :    Grand Master Joe Lewis
Posted :    10/7/2012
Comments :    This was the last note I would get from Master Lewis. Master Dennis Nackard sent it to me in late July 2012. "Doc, what you are doing is very budo. Helping raise awareness and revenue for such a worthy cause is a reflection of the true meaning of the word honor. I am very sorry that my current condition is such that I will not be able to attend this year. I wish you all the best. I was proud to be part of the event, particularly in its very first year. Much success in the future! Semper Fi! Lewis”
Posted By :    Rick Martin  (rick.martin@us.army.mil)
Posted :    1/29/2012
Comments :    Sensei Harden is a true martial artist in the traditional sense of the word. I always hear about warriors and the reference is used often in martial arts. To be a warrior according to Webster "one must have served in a war" - Harden Sensei is a unique, caring, gifted teacher whose skills have been tempered by his military experince and his love of the martial arts. We are very lucky to have a truly world class instructor right here in the Abingdon area!
Posted By :    Toby Faul
Posted :    12/21/2010
Comments :    As a father of two kids and having jobs where I was often gone, I was looking to put my son in a martial program to teach him self defense and discipline. My wife came across Western Masters and called for information on their classes. Sensei Harden was gracious enough to let Devon sit in on a few classes and he enjoyed it and was eager to go back. I was able to attend his fourth class where I was encouraged to sit in. I was truly amazed at the family atmosphere and the dedication at which Sensei Harden taught the class. I was hooked. This was an opportunity to spend time with my son and get some training that I had been wanting for years. To train with such an accomplished martial artist like Sensei , who trained under the likes of Jhoon Rhee, Joe Lweis, Kevin Blok, and Dana Abbott, was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Sensei Harden along with Kannan, Tony, Harland, and Barbara took us under their wings where they taught us techniques and concepts of martial arts that extend far beyond the dojo. The “off the mat Aikido” is a concept that they truly take to heart and they treat all as members of their family. Unfortunately our training was cut short due to a change in my job and we had to move. The short year that we spent in the dojo will stay with us forever. My son and I both feel lucky to have trained at Gishinkan , and call Master Harden “Sensei”, but most of all, we feel very honored to call Master Harden our mentor and friend. Devon and I look to continue our training in Aikido and look forward to attend Master Hardens seminars when possible. For opening our eyes to true Aikido, from the both of us, domo arigato gozaimas.
Posted By :    Kannan  (www.kannanrosaih@gmail.com)
Posted :    12/10/2010
Comments :    I have trained under Master Harden for the last seven years and consider my association with this true warrior, military officer, and master martial artist to be the single best thing I have done as a martial artist. My martial arts training spans nearly 20 years and I have studied under several instructors and the skill set, knowledge, and humility of Harden Sensei make me very proud to associate with him and call myself a Western Masters black belt...I can promise you that you are "NOT" going to find a martial artist with his skill set and experiences "anywhere" else in the state of Virginia! He has forty three years in the martial arts, twenty five years in the military, he has deployed to every hot spot on the globe in the last fifteen years, he holds multiple Black belts in several styles, and has trained under Jhoon Rhee, Dana Abbott, Joe Lewis, Kevin Blok...and he is a member of the Martial Arts Masters Hall of Fame!!!! I know this sounds like I am bragging on my instructor...I am! Western Masters is THE PLACE to study and learn the true meaning of budo! I would recommend that anyone from White belt to high ranking Black Belts consider furthering their education and making their martial art hirwasa suwasa...wider and deeper....the door is open!
Posted By :    Tom R. Coles  (thomas.robert.coles@us.army.mil)
Posted :    4/7/2010
Comments :    I have had the distinct experience of training with (then) CPT. Harden in the Balkans while deployed in support of Operation Joint Forge (SFOR-9) as a member of the NATO Peacekeeping Team in Bosnia. As a special operations NCO I have had some combative and hand to hand training. The training in stand up skills that I learned in the Balkans triggered a now ongoing interest in long range martial arts. Doc' Hardens kind spirit, martial skills, experience and teaching acumen are indeed "Second to None" and I would highly recommend his classes. T.R. Coles MSGT 20th Special Forces Group
Posted By :    Tom Mullins, SGM (R)  (thomas.mullins@va.gov)
Posted :    4/2/2010
Comments :    I took the Western Masters basic Tae Kwon Do program and I wanted to state that the professionalism, street smarts, and applicability of what is taught are "rock solid". I am a retired Sergeant Major and I know a thing or two about warriors and warrior training. Harden Sensei is a true Master of the martial arts with "forty two years" of practical martial arts training in tae kwon do, aikido, and the sword plus another twenty four years of real world military experience and numerous combat deployments thrown in! You have to respect the level of experience and the skill set speaks for itself. What a rare find here or anywhere. If are interested in learning the martial arts "THIS IS THE PLACE"....Hooah! V/R, Tom Mullins Sergeant Major U.S. Army (Retired)
Posted By :    Leigh Ann Young M.D.  (leigh.ann.yong@va.gov)
Posted :    10/20/2009
Comments :    I started training about one year ago with my husband (an anesthesiologist) and our two son's and we "Love the training, fellowship, and fun! I am in the best shape of my "life"! I have lost weight, gained confidence, and found a wonderful second family at Western Masters. I train in both the Family Tae Kwon Do and Yoshinkan Aikido programs. I am also a physician board certified in internal medicine and I cannot think of a better designed program anywhere for overall total fitness! Master Harden is truly a world class instructor, phenomenal martial artist and as if that were not enough he is a highly decorated soldier and professional officer with more then twenty years as a "real warrior and soldier". He brings experience, wisdom, and joy to every class!! It is wonderful training from someone who is doing what they LOVE! In closing, my family has trained in other programs and frankly there is nothing in our area that even remotely compares to the skill and teaching talents of this very "real" martial arts program! We recommend it highly to anyone interested in training in the martial arts!
Posted By :    David H. Henry, 3rd Dan  (wmksshogun@gmail.com)
URL :    www.westernmasterskarate.com
Posted :    7/31/2009
Comments :    I started my eastern martial arts training in Karate and Jujutsu, but when my first instructor closed his school, I was forced to find a new school and I joined up with Western Masters. I have earned Dan ranks in both Tae Kwon Do and Tang Soo Do, hold colored belt ranks in Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan, Kukki Taekwondo, Aikido, Karate, and Jujutsu. I have worked out with or trained under dozens upon dozens of instructors and found Master Harden to be one of, if not the most skilled and knowledgeable instructors I have had the pleasure of training with/under. I am pleased to be able to have such a great martial artist and a great man as one of my primary instructors.
Posted By :    Mike Smith Austin Smith Aaron Smith
Posted :    6/24/2009
Comments :    I have been searching for the "perfect" dojo for my sons and myself. When I found out the qualifications and real life experience of Sensei Lt. Col. Dane Harden, I had to dive in. Boy! I'm glad I did. From personal experience at this dojo, I want to invite you to learn the real thing. That's what this place is REAL!
Posted By :    Kalin Honaker  (khonaker08@ehc.edu)
Posted :    6/5/2009
Comments :    Prior to my experience with Western Masters, I had no interest whatsoever in taking martial arts. All I saw in American Martial Arts was an over-commercialized industry in which people pay to learn how to hurt each other and come out with a less-than-applicable set of flashy skills. I thought that the discipline and control ("bushido") that was taught in traditional martial arts was dead in the United States. When I began Master Harden's Aikido class eight months ago at the beginning of my freshman year of college, my view of martial arts was changed completely. I was caught off guard by Master Harden's profound understanding of not only the physical aspects of martial arts training, but the value of the spiritual aspects as well. The level of martial arts training that I have received in the Western Masters system has been invaluable to me for the short time I have been a part of Western Masters. I can not imagine my life now without martial arts. Without the family I have found at our Western Masters dojo, the lessons I have learned from Master Harden and from my classmates, and the physical, mental, and spiritual growth that I have obtained from the art itself, I would not be the person I am today. My experience with the Western Masters Martial Arts system has not only changed my view of American Martial Arts; it has changed my approach to life. I look forward to training with my Western Masters family for many years.
Posted By :    SSG Wilson TNARNG  (brian.wilson17@us.army.mil)
Posted :    5/12/2009
Comments :    Doc' Harden is an outstanding trainer and Officer. I first met LTC Harden while deployed in Iraq, where he did my Units initial in-theater medical orientation briefing for combat medical evac ops. Since then, LTC Harden has transfered from Aviation to our Armored Cav. Unit, He has become a tremendous asset, in a very short time teaching medical topics and also surprizing the group by introducing combatives and martial arts training during our last Annual Training at Camp Shelby Mississippi...To say I was amazed to see "A Doc" effortlessly slinging soldiers around is an understatement! He has since, "by popular demand" taught numerous martial art classes and combative drills. I admit I was a bit skeptical at first, as I am a pretty "BIG" guy, but Doc "really is a martial artist!" The fact that he is also a heck of a soldier with numerous combat deployments under his belt, makes what he teaches all the more "real world applicable and sprinkled with practical experience". I intend to begin training in Aikido with Doc's class next month...after my ankle heals up" I would highly recommend his program to anyone interested in rock solid martial arts training! SSG B. Wilson
Posted By :    gryflar
Posted :    4/3/2009
Comments :    Western Master's Martial Arts combines professional instruction with a useful, applicable set of concepts and skill sets that is unique to this part of Virginia and is very hard to find elsewhere in the Martial arts world. Overcommercialization of Martial arts has left a dearth of concerned instructors, and with his Military and martial arts background, Sensei Harden provides a solid foundation and exceptional instruction of unquestioned quality. Definitely worth the time and effort.
Posted By :    Penny Thayer, FNP, BC
Posted :    3/30/2009
Comments :    I have known Master Harden for a number of years. He is a man of integrity, patience and has a true compassion for others. He has extensive and impressive knowledge of martial arts and related fields. I have two children who have experienced the benefits of martial arts training. One has severe asthma/allergies and was limited in what sports he could participate in as a young child and he was able to achieve junior black belt status. My daughter also achieved Jr. Black belt status and continues to value the self defense training she learned at a very young age. The sense of accomplishment, pride and self confidence that was provided by martial arts training is evident in how they approach school work, current athletic endeavors and the temptations they now face as teenagers. I continue to recommend martial arts training to parents of young children, even those with severe asthma.
Posted By :    Kevin McCoy, PA-C
Posted :    3/30/2009
Comments :    Master Harden has expertise in multiple martial arts disciplines which he incorporates into his classes. He combines this with a positive, non intimidating teaching style, making his classes practical and extremely interesting. I attended a recent seminar that he did which was excellent and a wonderful learning experience for me. His students obtain a remarkably well-rounded proficiency in multiple self-defence techniques that is truly unique. Kevin McCoy, Jonesborough, TN.
Posted By :    SSG Tom Cauffman  (tommy.cauffman@us.army.mil )
Posted :    3/26/2009
Comments :    I am a soldier in the Georgia Army National Guard and from Dec 2003 until Feb 2005, I was served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, OIF-II Rotation. I had the pleasure of serving my country with LT. Col. Dane S. Harden. LTC Harden is a very caring, skilled, and strong hearted man. While in country LTC Harden felt that it was very important for his medics to not only have the best medical training possible, but also to be able to defend themselves with modern weapon and by unarmed hand to hand methods as well! LTC Harden took it upon himself and volunteered his off time to instruct military conbative training and traditional martial arts. In a short time other soldiers fell into our ranks, then other units got involved in this training. Not just soldiers from the Army, but also from the Marine Corp, Navy, and the Air Force. During our 14 months in the combat zone the training by LTC Harden was, I have to say some of the best training we could have gotten and really helped to prepare soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines for what we faced on a daily basis. I highly encourage those of you with the opportunity to train under LTC Harden to take full advantage of it as he is an excellent teacher and soldier.
Posted By :    Pete Marghella Sensei  (Pietro Marghella [pmarghella@dpr-inc.net])
Posted :    3/24/2009
Comments :    “I have been a student of the Martial Arts for more than 30 years. I began my training in 1977 with some of the early giants of the sport Karate in the United States, including Earl Monroe, Frank Ruiz and Peter Urban in Nisei Goju Ryu in New York City and Dennis Nackard in Kempo in Suburban Philadelphia. I had good reason to believe that I had trained under some of the very best martial artists in the country at the time. In 1980, I had the privilege of meeting and beginning to train with Master Harden while attending a small college in Western Maryland. I had no idea of the kind of talent I would find outside of the mainstream of martial art’s programs that were growing in the metropolitan areas of the Nation at the time. I have been affiliated with Western Masters Martial Arts for almost 30 years now, having been one of Master Harden’s original first generation of black belts. I can say without hesitation that Master Harden is one of the most phenomenally talented martial artists I have ever seen. His skills as a practitioner and instructor of Tae Kwon Do are without peer. As an Aikidoka training under the most senior Yoshinkan Aikido Instructor in North America—Kyoshi Kevin Blok—he is emerging as a formidable talent in the “Art of Peace and Harmony.” His considerable combat experience in the military adds extensive combatant skills to his portfolio. The combination makes him one of the most unique and extraordinary instructors to be found Nation-wide. For those who are serious about pursuing martial art’s instruction with a true master, there’s no better find than Western Masters Martial Arts.”
Posted By :    Kannan Rasiah  (kannan.rasiah@gmail.com)
Posted :    3/20/2009
Comments :    As a student of the martial arts on and off for over 10 years, I was interested in seeing how Western Masters Martial Arts stacked up against my previous instructors. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the quality of instruction far excelled the experiences I had previously encountered. Master Harden and the other Western Masters Black Belts that I’ve met are superb martial artists. An added dimension is that they’re not only personally interested in the progress of their students in the dojo but also in their lives outside of the class. I’m getting top quality instruction in Tae Kwon Do and Aikido and, at the same time, receiving superb mentorship from accomplished and committed professionals. Now nearing my second year with Western Masters Martial Arts, I have been privileged to train with some of the most talented instructors in North America and to recently participate in the opening of the brand new Western Masters Dojo in Abingdon, VA. It is a safe and constructive environment in which children and adults of any age and rank are welcomed and treated with honor and dignity. We’re taught skills that are not only effective in the martial arts, but also aimed at truly developing a harmonious approach to living. I am proud to train here and would wholeheartedly recommend Master Harden and the Western Masters system to anyone who is willing to learn.
Posted By :    H.D.Simpson M.D.  (simpsonharland@comcast.net)
Posted :    3/20/2009
Comments :    Six months ago my wife anounced that our family would be taking tae kwon do. I was somewhat dismayed. I have muscular dystrophy and sometimes walking across the yard can be difficult not to mention my fear of injury. I have now spent six months in tkd and aikido and am ten times stronger than when I started. Dane Harden is a master at teaching and has lead me slowly and patiently to be able to do something that I would not have ever believed I could do i.e. tae kwon do. I look forward to the training, fun and fellowship of every lesson. We also occasionally do road trips to observe other masters skills. These are always an incredible mount of fun. I feel privileged to be a member of master Hardens Dojo and recommend this experience to everyone from two years old to eighty years old.
Posted By :    catherine c tanner M.D.
Posted :    3/17/2009
Comments :    Dane Harden is one of the most gifted teachers I have had. He is exacting, and at the same time operates from an ocean of patience. His knowledge base and personal experience of 40 years of martial arts and thirty years of actual combat experience is unparalleled. It is a delicate and precise art to have been taught how to kill and yet to teach bushido and how to disarm and protect without taking life, and Sensei Harden has mastered that skill and is superb at transferring that expertise to others. I highly recommend his tutelage.
Posted By :    Mark Overbay, MD
Posted :    3/13/2009
Comments :    In September 2008, both my wife and son(age 8), both black belts in another TKD system, decided to restart their TKD training as white belts after observing and getting to know Master Harden. Our experience with Western Masters and Master Harden has exceeded our expectations. The training is both demanding and fun at the same time. I have seen their skill levels rapidly improve. The training also includes self techniques gathered from other forms of martial arts and military combatives giving it a very distinctive advantage. The new dojo is well designed and provides a safe, clean environment for training for all ages and skill levels. I have been apart of the Aikido program since its start and have, through connections through Western Masters, had the opportunity to train not only under Master Harden, but also with some of the best Aikido instructors in North America. I consider this a rare privledge given my limited experience. I encourage all to consider Dane Harden and Western Masters for their martial arts training.
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