When looking for a new location for his International Martial Arts Association Houston dojo, Sensei Patrick Richoux didn’t want to stray too far from his Alief-area spot on Boone Road.

After all, Richoux trained hundreds of students there for more than five years and he wanted to make the transition easy for them. With that in mind, he recently decamped to a new space just a few minutes away at 8800 W. Sam Houston Parkway South.

Hadrea Maryam trains with Sensei Richoux

He said he picked the space for its location and extra capacity for onsite tournaments.

“It also has a gym that the parents can use while the kids train,” Richoux said.

With more than 40 years of teaching under his belt, the welfare of his students and their parents is always top of mind for Richoux, a focus not lost on Taras Kirichemko.

Kirichemko has practiced Karate for more than a decade and is a second-degree black belt. His son Timothy, 14, is a first-degree black belt; his youngest, Arkady, 8, boasts a green belt.

He was introduced to Richoux – an eighth degree black belt in Japanese Shotokon Karate – about seven years ago after his former instructor left town and recommended him.

When he met Richoux, Kirichemko was impressed with how he ran his dojo and, despite living more than 25 minutes away in West University Place, he’s been under Richoux’s tutelage ever since.

“He is one of the best and most skillful senseis around, if not in all of the Houston area,” he said. “He also possesses quite a bit of character. That’s very important.”

Kirichemko pointed to Richoux’s fairness, honesty and style of instruction as factors that keep him coming back, despite the distance, and entrusting him with his sons’ Karate practice as well.

“In martial arts you have to follow orders, like in the army, and I find it difficult to take orders from someone I can’t fully respect,” he said. “(Richoux) is very fair, and treats everyone the same, so I can follow orders from him and make progress in my practice.”

The care and good treatment has also resonated with Katherine Miranda, a 16-year-old brown belt who’s worked with Richoux for about three years.

Not always able to afford the tuition and sometimes plagued with health challenges, Katherine said Richoux will often check in with her if she misses too many classes and, when learning that money is tight, will offer her a chance to teach some classes in exchange for her own practice time.

The Hastings High School junior said finding Richoux’s dojo has been a dream come true, fulfilling her love of extreme physical challenges and hard work.

“I’ve always loved martial arts, but we could never find a school that was affordable,” Katherine said. “We found Patrick and, from the first day, he made me work a lot and he understood that we had a low income, but he gave me a chance and told us he’d always find a way to let me train.”

Katherine agreed with Kirichemko that Richoux’s engaging and knowledgeable style benefits his students. Even if she practices only one week ahead of a tournament, she said, she always wins top honors, an accomplishment she attributes to Richoux’s intense training demands.

Richoux pulls from a deep well. His belt rank is recognized by the International Martial Arts Association and the World Karate Federation. He also served on the French National Karate team from 1975 to 1980 and the USA National Karate team from 1987 until 2004. He also routinely travels domestically and to South America to referee tournaments and offer instructional seminars. Often, he welcomes other international Karate instructors to his dojo, exposing his students to a variety of trainers and levels of expertise.

Kirichemko said Richoux’s students benefit from his love and dedication to the sport, as well.

“He cares about Karate. He’s not just doing it for monetary gain,” he said. “He cares about helping you perfect your technique and making you better and teaching you how to think. He’s truly making an impact on his students’ lives.”

IMA Houston Karate
8800 W. Sam Houston Parkway South
Houston 77099