People I Know: Michelle Fanara

A “wandering martial arts instructor,” Michelle Fanara has been involved with the Villari style of martial arts for over 20 years, both as a student and a sensei. Next month, she’s taking the final step to becoming a true entrepreneur and opening her very own dojo.

Michelle Fanara (right) and one of her students.

How I Know Michelle

Michelle and I are both alumni of Fred Villari’s Studios in Glendale, taught by Master Armen Heroian. We started the same year. I was six and she was nine. We always got along really well and participated in many of the public demonstrations together. And we’ve both tried our hand at instructing.

While I ended up writing instead of teaching, I never forgot the lessons I learned at the dojo. Or Michelle! We kept in touch over the years, and I’m very glad we did. She’s an awesome person with a warm heart, everlasting patience, and feisty sense of humor that well becomes a martial arts instructor.

As Michelle would say, “Toughen up, Buttercup!”

Michelle and Master Armen Heroian in 1995. (4 years after we first met).

My Interview with Michelle Fanara

What do you do?

I’m a wandering martial arts instructor. I currently teach at both Fred Villari’s Studios in Glendale and Lake Forest California. I also have my own students that I teach in and around the Los Angeles area.

How did you start?

I started taking martial arts lessons back in 1991 at the age of 9. I’m 30 now… So, it’s really almost 21 years of training. I started teaching when I was a green with a brown stripe. I originally wanted to teach because I was bored at home. I continued teaching through high school because I got community service hours for it. Now, I teach because I love seeing the enjoyment on others faces as the continue to learn and grow in the arts as I impart the knowledge and the lessons I have learned throughout the years.

What’s your favorite part of what you do?

I think my favorite part about what I do is just helping others to not only learn how to defend themselves, but also to gain confidence, respect, and self-esteem–Things they may not have had in their lives before.

What’s your advice for someone looking to get into what you do?

My advice to someone wanting to become a martial arts instructor is to first and foremost, find a style that suits you. So many people give up on martial arts because they tried one style and it didn’t work…that’s ok though! Try a different one! Or, if you like the style, try a different instructor. Everyone has a different teaching style and some instructors are a better fit for some. After all that, just ask your instructor if you can help out in a kids class. If you really like it, ask if you can help out in more classes besides a kids class. Who knows! You might want to be an instructor and run your own school!

What’s next for you/your business?

The next thing for me is to continue my training to hopefully attain my 4th degree Black Belt and to open up my own school. I’m planning on opening up a Villari’s Martial Arts Center in the Duarte, CA area within the next few months. I’m really excited and feel so blessed to be with such a wonderful organization.

Michelle and some of her students after a test. (The one on the end was so excited she passed she took off her pants! lol. Kids…)


Live in Southern California? Michelle’s very own dojo is having its GRAND OPENING next month! (September 2012).

Villari Martial Arts Centers
1740 Huntington Drive, Suite 306
Duarte, CA 91010

Like Michelle’s Dojo on Facebook!

UPDATE (9/11/12): Check out Michelle’s new OFFICIAL WEBSITE!

Michelle and more of her students.

Photos provided by Michelle Fanara.

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