Dr. Gregg Palzer has been involved in martial arts for over 30 years and martial arts instruction for over 25.
Two years ago, he and his wife, Janice, decided to open up Ringside Rehab, a Lebanon-based business that combines physical therapy, a chiropractic practice and martial arts.
They offer courses and training in self-defense, karate, kickboxing and boxing for ages ranging from 4-years-old to 70, in addition to offering physical therapy and chiropractic work for the general public.
While many envision the brutal nature of combative sports, Ringside Rehab aims to stress the benefits of the training.
“Martial arts is designed to develop a person’s mind, body and spirit through discipline, hard work and a desire to be a better person,” Palzer explained.
He got his start in martial arts at the age of 16 in New York, training with the first American to win the World Karate Federation World championship, and martial arts stalwart, Tokey Hill.
“Growing up in New York at that time, I had to learn to defend myself,” Palzer said.
He earned a 2nd-degree black belt under the tutelage of Hill before becoming a four-time New York state karate champion. Palzer has trained with and helped train numerous other top amateur and professional karate, kickboxing and boxing athletes and international champions throughout his career.
But, it was a debilitating injury during training for his fourth title that helped change his life.
“I got injured and the doctors told me I’d never be able to fight again,” he said. “But I trained with a bunch of physical therapists and was able to come back and win.”
A lack of therapy for injured fighters at the time and a Dutch-trained physical therapist helped bring about the inspiration for Ringside Rehab.
“When I was working with the therapists, I noticed nobody worked with fighters,” Palzer said. “So I thought combining (martial arts) with physical therapy, I could help people like I was helped.”
He traveled to the Netherlands to train in physical therapy before setting out to train and become a chiropractor as well. Palzer met Janice, and the two would eventually land in Oregon and open their Lebanon facility.
Ringside Rehab matches the physical therapy and chiropractic practice with the discipline of martial arts in an effort to help both patients and students recover faster. They also offer services in weight-loss training and strength and conditioning for multiple sports.
Palzer, who also serves as a physical therapist at Samaritan Albany General Hospital, finds reward in sharing the benefits of his wide range of training with everyone he works with.
“I had great rewards in training and competition myself,” he said. “It kind of changed my life and gave me, and I’d like to pass that on to someone. You can do anything when you set your mind to it.”
Ringside Rehab martial artists have competed at several tournaments throughout the state since their opening and have produced quite a few top-3 finishers in the process.
Their most recent tournament at the Battle of the Champions II in Salem saw karate pupils ranging from a Linn-Benton Community College student, to a pair of elementary school students, to a local Lebanon veterinarian bring home several trophies.
Ringside Rehab recently constructed a new boxing ring and will have several kickboxers and boxers competing at the state and national levels in the coming months.
While Palzer would like to train world champions in all of the sports Ringside Rehab offers, he stresses his more wide-ranging goal of helping make each individual the best they can be.
“Our hope is to make champions of people inside and out, as far as inspiring them to do their best in everything they do.”