It's hard to mention martial arts in West Alabama and the name "Harry Lawson" not come up. Unfortunately, GrandMaster Lawson's martial arts facility was destroyed by fire this week.

Lawson has provided the Tuscaloosa community with martial arts lessons for 40 years, though he didn't open his business until the year 2000.

He's led students to compete and win internationally, and he is quite the decorated artist himself! Just last year, students from the West Alabama Martial Arts Academy competed and placed at the World Martial Arts Games in London.

The nine level black belt has been the recipient of Lifetime Achievement Awards, Hall of Fame Awards in multiple states, and numerous others... Many of which were destroyed in the fire.

Just seeing GrandMaster Lawson in action puts smiles in the hearts of many.  Whether it was during a taekwondo demonstration, a kick boxing class, self defense instruction, when you saw Mr. Lawson in action, you knew he was having a good time.

In addition to the classes at the dojo (defined as a hall or place for immersive learning or meditation), Lawson also spent time in service with Arts N Autism, summer camps, after school programs, and more.

So, to know that the equipment he used to train, plaques and awards he's received, and the place he and his students called home at 4029 Greensboro Ave are now gone is quite heartbreaking.

As of now, their spirits are bruised but not broken, as they still met for classes at an outdoor venue Tuesday.

However, if you have or know of an open space suitable for a dojo, contact the West Alabama Martial Arts Academy by clicking here.

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