Category Archives: Spirit Made Steel

Extra Life 2017 Recap

I’d like to make an extra thank you to everyone who supported us this year for Extra Life 2017. This was our biggest and best year ever. Attendance was strong throughout the day and even overnight this year. We had more games than ever, and best of all we set an all time record by raising over $2200 to help sick kids!

There are several people who deserve a special mention this year for all of their help and hard work this year.

First of all, Kerry Jordan did a fantastic job of running down prize support. We had over $1500 worth of prizes donated by various game companies this year thanks to Kerry’s hard work! Kerry also took the lead on the numerous scheduled games we had this year, and did a wonderful job helping us organize it. The following companies and groups donated games and prizes this year:


I’d also like to leave a special shout out to Rebecca Renfroe and her coworkers at QuantiTech. QuantiTech donated lunch, dinner, and – perhaps most importantly – coffee this year. And their generous donation still left us enough to add another $160 into our fundraising total.

The 14-hour Dungeons & Dragons game!

Thanks again to Chris Shotts for once more loaning us the 10 foot projector screen, Andrew and Samantha Dubbel for bringing out their VR rigs again, Tim Hite for bringing the arcade cabinet, Sensei Brian for bringing more video games than I can count, Drew for running a fourteen hour Dungeons & Dragons game (that is not a typo!) and, of course to everyone who came out and played with us.

Thank you all again for making our fifth Extra Life event our best ever! If you want to pitch in, there’s still time to make a last minute donation. We hope to see you all next year!

Help Me Save Kids’ Lives at Extra Life 2016


On Saturday, November 5th my dojo, Spirit Made Steel Martial Arts, will be hosting its fourth annual Extra Life charity event. Extra Life 2016 will be our biggest Extra Life ever! We’ll be playing games for 24 hours – from 8AM Saturday to 8AM Sunday – and raising money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. For those of you who don’t know, Children’s Miracle Network pays for life saving treatment for terminally ill children who otherwise couldn’t afford to pay.

That’s right – your donations will literally help save the lives of children.

If you’re in the north Alabama area, please consider coming out to join us. You don’t even have to play all 24 hours – although you’re certainly welcome to! You can drop in for as much or as little gaming as you like. We’ll have board games, card games, tabletop role playing, the official Extra Life at Spirit Made Steel 10′ screen awesome projector of awesome, modern game consoles, PC gaming, classic game consoles, a home brew multi-game arcade system, and the Virtual Reality Corner! Don’t see a game you want to play? Please feel free to bring your own!

The 2015 Extra Life All-Nighter Crew!
The 2015 Extra Life All-Nighter Crew!

Last year we had 55 participants, and eight of us stayed for the entire 24-hour marathon. This year we expect even more people and even more fun. We also have representatives from Steve Jackson Games and Foresight Games on hand, among others. What’s more, I just might have a few free Steam keys for Oxide GamesAshes of the Singularity to give away.

You can help us with the fundraising in three ways.

  • Join our official Extra Life team and gather donations of your own! Most of us are playing for Children’s of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham, the nearest Children’s Miracle Network Hospital to us. But feel free to play for any other hospital! Not local to Alabama? That’s ok – join our team anyway and even play from home if you like!
  • Donate to myself or one of my teammates and help us meet our fundraising goals! Clearly this is the easiest solution for those of you who don’t live nearby!
  • Come join us at our Extra Life 2016 event and play and leave a donation at the door! Clearly the most fun option! We’re asking for a minimum donation of $15 – but looking at everything we have to offer this year, trust me, it’ll be worth it! But since 100% of the funds go straight to pay for treatment, why not donate more?

You can find more details on the Spirit Made Steel website or on our Extra Life Facebook group.

Madison Martial Arts and Spirit Made Steel Karate are Merging

In January, 1995, I stepped into a small martial arts class at the Madison Rec Center. Sixteen years old and armed with my first real paycheck, I had no idea how much Sensei Kevin Swanner was about to change my life. Over the next twelve years I followed Sensei Swanner and Spirit Made Steel Karate through five moves and multiple knee injuries for both myself and Sensei Swanner! Eventually I became an instructor myself as his program grew.

In 2007, my wife Morgon and I moved to Georgia where I first began teaching on my own. After I moved back home and finished my master’s degree, I continued that by opening Madison Martial Arts Academy.

Today life has come full circle and again I’m “going home.” After running his own dojo for thirty years, Sensei Swanner is retiring from most day-to-day teaching responsibilities. As he continues the next leg on his journey through the martial arts, he has asked me to step in and help his program continue.

In the coming weeks, Madison Martial Arts Academy and Spirit Made Steel Karate will merge into one program and one location. We will be occupying the current Spirit Made Steel location at 1604 Slaughter Rd, Madison, AL 35758.

The new, combined school will allow us to provide a better program to our students in every way. We will have better and larger facilities, more equipment, additional instructors and new friends to train with.
Classes will move to the new location beginning on Monday, August 1st. In addition to the move, there will be some schedule changes. Please see the new schedule below.

Thank you all for joining us on this great adventure!

– Sensei Russell Newquist



Cross posted to the Madison Martial Arts Academy blog.