Grandmaster Taek Sung Cho has accrued more than 40 years of martial-arts experience and a host of titles on his resumé, including coach for the International Junior Taekwondo Championships and the U.S. Junior Olympic Taekwondo Team. However, he derives the most reward from his role as teacher, a position he has coveted since establishing Master Cho's Talium in 1991. Working with expert instructors, he imparts the value of community and inner balance through the lens of tae kwon do technique.
Master Cho's lessons amplify confidence as well as coordination in young children, teens, and adults. Students can practice with others in their age group or alongside their families, depending on whether their school bus or their house transforms into a giant fighting robot. Kardio Kickboxing workouts toast calories with rapid jabs, and the staff emphasize the social aspect of self-defense training by hosting summer camps and birthday parties.
The dedicated instructors at Afro Brazilian Cultural Center of New Jersey see capoeira as more than a blend of dance and martial arts—they see it as a way of life. They train children and adults of all ages in capoeira's graceful movements through classes, therapy sessions, and afterschool programs, many of the instructors drawing from extensive training in Brazil and an understanding of Brazilian folklore and culture. But their instruction doesn’t end at capoeira—many of the Cultural Center's coaches specialize in disciplines including yoga, Zumba, salsa, and West African dance. Though many of the instructors were born and raised in New Jersey, others hail from places such as Guinea and Senegal and infuse their culture into their teaching style. The instructors hold classes at least once a week and more frequently for students preparing to dance-battle chaperones for control of the prom.
Sifu Ron LePree helps students of all levels learn to defend themselves with the Chinese martial art of wing chun kung fu. He trained in the United States, Germany, and Hong Kong, studying under the son of Grandmaster Ip Man—a notable wing chun instructor who taught Bruce Lee—as well as other experts in the field. In his classes, LePree teaches the fundamental tenets and moves of wing chun kung fu. He believes that a strong foundation is vital and builds on that structure during each class, introducing students to drills and interactions with an emphasis on mindfulness and concentration.
Originally founded by a group that includes retired pro boxer Danny Campbell, TITLE Boxing Club offers total-body workouts that blend boxing, kickboxing, and fitness. After donning tape and gloves, students can greet a 100-pound heavy bag with a barrage of kicks, jabs, crosses, hooks, and unkind words. Each of the club's trainers focuses on a different area, such as technicality, core and balance, or moderate- to high-intensity training. Other equipment around the facility includes a boxing ring, speed bags, and double-end bags, as well as free weights and cardiovascular machines.
Wailing away on person-sized punching bags, glove-wearing kick-boxers sweat and focus. Instructors weave between this forest of flying fists and furrowed brows, guiding boxers with technical feedback and a creative take onsport. Kickboxing in a group setting, say trainers, "encourages participants to push themselves by working harder." The result of this hard work is toned muscles, increased confidence, and a background in self-defense, along with pet punching bag that follows its exerciser home.
There are only a few certainties in life, two of them being the sun rising every morning and the folks at TNT Fitness Studio opening their doors when it does. The steadfast exercise facility invites the public to work out or cleverly disguise a sweating problem seven days a week, hosting group fitness classes that range from dance-based Zumba to martial-arts infused Pilates and yoga sessions. Teachers also conduct classes geared toward kids aged 6–12, including yoga and hip-hop dance.