A great martial artist must embody strength, endurance, flexibility, and mental discipline. That's why the instructors at 1144 Athletics turn to the combat art to form the core of their athletic training programs. They teach a variety of classes, from boxing to muay thai and Brazilian jiujitsu. Some of their classes prepare students for competitive fighting or handling real-world situations of violence—a major point in the women’s self-defense class—while others, such as cardio kickboxing, focus purely on fitness. The Tough Challenge tones and strengthens muscles using crunches, jumping jacks, push ups, and circuit training.
While they eschew traditional belt rankings in favor of purely skill-based teachings in most of their classes, their kids’ classes follow an achievement-based method of advancement. They use this strategy to reward positive attitudes and mental discipline, along with physical accomplishments such as shooting chi lasers from their hands.
At Total Boxing, students study under experienced athletes and instructors, learning the swift leg strikes, powerful blocks, and delicate balancing skills of muay thai. Adults and children alike hone their agility, strength, and speed during invigorating lessons, safely sparring with other fighters, or practicing fist and footwork on the gym's ample collection of specially designed training bags. In addition to perfecting a blinding flurry of high-kicking feet, visitors to Total Boxing turn abs and core muscles into rippling sinew, and learn effective self-defense strategies. The part-gym, part-dojo operates with its own in-house graduated belt system to mark students' progress and development, shunning the meaningless belt-doling and cupcake-gifting of corporate academies. Other classes include the core building of Pilates, the chokes and locks that make up Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and the functional workouts in boot-camp classes.
Seasoned bushido artist John Okochi taught Michael Issa martial arts when Issa was 6 years old. Now, the two teach together at Kaikudo Martial Arts. Although Okochi has a leg up on his pupil—he has been teaching for more than 30 years, or three presidential terms—Issa is no slouch. His certification for practicing Wudang tai chi and qigong adds a holistic element to the studio. That comes in handy during the studio's kaikudo classes, which stress discipline and mental focus in addition to the self-defense tactics of Japanese and Chinese martial arts styles such as taido karate, judo, and aikido.
Started 14 years ago, Knuckle Up Fitness has grown into one of the largest fitness and mixed martial arts clubs in the Southeast. And there’s a reason for this gym’s popularity—KnuckleUp welcomes everybody, from professional fighters to absolute beginners, and employs top-notch instructors who’ve competed in hundreds of bouts. They also have a mission to inspire members who may be bored by tradition fitness regimes to commit to exercising and achieve their fitness goals by offering alternative fitness options.
Each of KnuckleUp’s three locations have more than 1,000 square feet of grappling mats, a regulation-size boxing ring, and plenty of heavy, speed, and uppercut bags for pummeling. There are also free weight areas, equipped with Life Fitness and Hammer Strength Nautilus machines, where clients can strength-train at their own pace. Skilled instructors lead classes in boxing and kickboxing, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kali, and MMA, to help members get into and stay into fighting form, as well as learn to compete for titles and gain self-confidence. They also offer personal training and programs for kids, to start youth on a path toward self-discipline, physical fitness, and a role in The Karate Kid, Part III.