Master Zuhair Hillail first encountered Shotokan karate at the age of 10, when he enrolled in a school in his native Kuwait. During his first two years of study, he advanced quickly, earning a medium-level belt and constant praise until his teacher left the school indefinitely, leaving the school's future uncertain. Unwilling to see his fellow students abandon their training, the 12-year-old Zuhair took up his former instructor's reins, and he hasn't looked back since.
Now a resident of Houston and mentor for hundreds of black belts throughout his lifetime, Zuhair owns and operates each of Tiger's Den Martial Arts & Fitness's three locations. Outfitted with custom foam-padded hardwood floors and matted floors—as well as outdoor training arenas, where grasshoppers perch on students' outstretched feet—the spaces host everything from fitness-oriented kickboxing classes to intensive studies of martial arts. Believing that all should be given the opportunity to learn Shotokan karate, Zuhair and his sensei take on any protégé, whether they are young or old, or live with ADD, autism, or other physical or mental challenges. As patient and gentle as a Trappist teddy bear, all instructors employ a "praise, correct, praise" method of instruction, always positively reinforcing actions and offering expert advice on how to improve.