Ryoto Martial Arts celebrates grand opening


TORRINGTON – Ryoto Martial Arts celebrated its grand opening Tuesday, Sept. 13, in room T132 at Eastern Wyoming College.

Sensei Sandra Vanatta, a third-degree black belt, has over 18 years of experience in the world of martial arts. She has foundational experience in Ten Ichi Ryu Karate, Chung Do Kwon Taekwondo and Danzan Ryu Juijistsu.

“I’ve always wanted to have my own dojo, and now it’s coming to fruition,” Vanatta said.

Her love and passion for martial arts began at the age of three when Vanatta’s older sister started doing it herself. At the time, she was too young to start classes herself, so she resorted to doing stuff on the sidelines which caught the eye of the head instructor.

“Since I was already doing everything, the head instructor said throw her in and sign her up,” she said.

Vanatta has been doing it ever since.

Originally from Fort Collins, Colorado, Vanatta moved to Torrington in 2016 where she graduated from Torrington High School.

She began teaching at Genesis Martial Arts in 2016 before it sold and became Torrington Martial Arts. Vanatta recently branched off and started Ryoto Martial Arts.

“I just want to share my love of martial arts with everybody,” Vanatta said. “I want to focus on teaching self-defense, especially to women. For my younger students, our class creed is respect, patience, perseverance, discipline and confidence. That is something I really, really want to drill into these kids and make them better students, citizens and well-rounded individuals.

“Self-defense is a huge thing we focus on,” she added. “We also do a lot of anti-bullying and stranger danger for our younger students.”

Her first class on Tuesday evening featured 10 young students.

“A typical class will start with some warm-ups and stretching. We’ll do blocks, strikes and kicks as our foundation,” Vanatta said. “We’ll also do a kata, which is a series of movements. As you progress through the ranks, those katas get increasingly more difficult. Then we’ll do a special activity that’s either sparing with full pads and light contact or a weapons class.”

Vanatta is certified to teach a variety of weapons.

For the grand opening, the youngsters also got several surprises. Southeast High School sophomore William Knowlton was honored with a black belt and a sword for his accomplishments in the martial arts. Vanatta also demonstrated how to break boards with her feet and elbows.

Classes run every Tuesday and Thursday at EWC. The younger ages go from 6:30-7:15 p.m., while the adult class goes from 7:15-8:45 p.m.

“They can contact me on my cell phone (307-256-4699) or Ryoto Martial Arts on Facebook,” Vanatta said. “They can also contact the college.”

She recommends students be at least five years old when starting out in martial arts.

“The typical starting age is five years old,” Vanatta said. “A student can start younger than that with instructor permission. I’ve had students start at three and they are perfectly fine, others even five is a little too young for their attention span.”

Vanatta is running a special for the remainder of the month of September at $25 per person. Beginning in October the price goes to $50 per person and $35 for any additional family member.

Video News