Dragon Cloud Dojo closing after 12 years

Dragon Cloud Dojo will close its operations in Pahrump on March 1. The dojo has been a fixture in Pahrump since it moved here in November of 2004 and is owned by Jose Hernandez, who is a master karate instructor and seventh degree black belt. He has been practicing the martial arts since 1963.

Hernandez said he wasn’t leaving karate, just a certain aspect of it, which he called the “business of karate.”

“Karate is in my blood,” he said. “I am retiring only from the business end of karate. An example of the business end is negotiating credit card transfer rates, paying state taxes, or negotiating rents. All that is the business of karate, but that’s not karate.”

He said although he hates the business end of karate, it still was hard for him to make this decision.

“There is never a good time to end a business like this because I have so many wonderful students who have been like family to me,” Hernandez said. “I also want to complete projects that I have been working on for ten years. I have this virtual dojo I want up and running. It’s a site where people can learn karate from me and I will travel to test them. I would enjoy that. So I have this bucket list that I still want to complete.”

He said he will still teach his serious students that are either brown belts or black wanting to go further.

As far as turning the dojo over to one of his students, it wasn’t in the cards.

“I have one student, Andrew Gonzalez, who is working on his second degree black belt, but he has a life,” the karate master said. “He still has to finish college and has other things. I am not going to say to him that my life and plans are better for him than his plans. He could definitely make a living, but he won’t be rich. That was never my goal either. I am very thankful that I have been blessed to be able to make a living at what I do. There really is no reason for the dojo to close other than I don’t want to pay more rent and I am ready to retire the business for that was the sign to do so.”

Gonzalez was surprised with the decision.

“It never is the right time to close such a business,” Gonzalez said. “I support his decision though. He did discuss the business end with me and I know he will be working with me still, but the details still need to be worked out and are up in the air.”

At the moment, Gonzalez is training students at the NyE Communities Coalition and he hopes to expand his students there.

Details like where will Hernandez conduct his scaled-down version of his business has not been worked out, at the time of this interview.

To Gonzalez though, the dojo was much more than karate.

“When I had rough times in my life, I would go to the dojo,” Gonzalez said. “There is an extreme sense of family. I met a lot of friends through there, and a lot of family.”

He said he was saddened by the decision.

“I guess this is a path of life,” he said. “I had meditated on this and I consider this a sign. I was looking for another place to train for my mixed martial arts fighting. This was a sign to go to Las Vegas for my training. I attend school in Las Vegas and so I am going to fight at the UFC gym.

Reagan Adams, a brown belt who has been taking karate for five years, was also surprised at the closing and was worried she wouldn’t be able to finish her black belt. Adams said she will be ready to test for her black belt long before she turns 16 (Hernandez issues black belts only to 16 year olds and up).

“My entire life is karate,” she said. “I was shocked at first and then sensei (teacher) told us he will still teach the serious candidates studying for their black belt. I was then OK with it.”

Hernandez will be missed, for he was more than a karate instructor. His kids appeared at community functions for many years, inspiring others to reach for their potential.

Contact sports editor Vern Hee at vhee@pvtimes.com

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