By MICHAEL AUSHENKER | Pali Life Editor
“The One-Armed Bandit” Baxter Humby teaches there, Sugar Ray Leonard trains there and the children of Jane’s Addiction front man Perry Farrell and actress Rene Russo have taken classes there.
We’re talking, of course, about Gerry Blanck’s Martial Arts Center, a local institution which recently celebrated its 33rd year of business in the basement at 881 Alma Real by throwing a party at—where else?—Pearl Dragon on Sunset Blvd.
“Pearl Dragon has always been really great,” founder/owner Gerry Blanck said, noting how it’s the only place in town where his young students can hang out till their early-evening bedtime and then a second wave of guests dancing to a DJ until 1 a.m.
Blanck has held his annual anniversary party at the restaurant for several years now. Before that, he used to shindig at Richard Riordan’s dearly departed Oak Room on Swarthmore.
Blanck and his staff of 10 had much to celebrate. Not only have they taught generations of Palisadians the fine martial art of yoshukai karate as well as kickboxing and self-defense, they have contributed colorfully to the civic fabric making up Pacific Palisades.
Across three decades, Blanck has enjoyed many professional highlights here in town: as parade marshal in 2012’s Fourth of July parade and receiving the Chamber of Commerce’s Business Person of the Year Award the year after.
“We love the parade,” said Blanck, whose staff and students participate every Fourth of July.
Of course, his greatest reward is “teaching all the kids and seeing them grow up. Now they’re doctors and lawyers, a veterinarian, a sheriff and the captain of the fire department!”
Sure, some have moved away, but he still runs into them because “they still have ties” in town.
“I’m just happy to make it this far,” said the good-natured Blanck. “My goal is to make it to 35!”
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