Any martial-arts education involves hard knocks and tough falls, but U.S. Elite Martial Arts & Fitness Center cushions the blows with its 4,000 square feet of matted floors. Atop them, trainees exchange blows in boxing and muay thai kickboxing classes. Brazilian jujitsu, wrestling, and judo fighters perform takedowns as elegant as they are brutal, following up with holds and joint locks that immobilize an opponent’s body. The center also trains children in self-defense, tying their lessons into school to raise grades and impart nonviolent antibullying techniques, such as calling a playground summit.
"Our brain is designed to realize what we wish, without any minor errors," says Dahn Yoga founder Ilchi Lee. "If you want success, it will create success. If you want happiness or health, it will create them. Anything is possible, as long as negative thoughts and emotions don't interfere."
To make this challenging, yet hopeful, philosophy accessible to all, Lee combined the Eastern concept of chi energy with his own brain-management system, developing a distinctive program that unlocks inner peace and sweeps up brain clutter caused by the daily stress of always having to find Waldo. This focus, shared by Body & Brain Holistic Yoga and The Life Yoga, forms the basis of the studio's classes and consultations. Warm-up yoga maneuvers awaken muscles before 30–40 minutes of breathing, stretching, core practice, and meditation—including a signature brain-wave vibration technique that aims to calibrate mental and physical energies. Cooldown exercises ease the body back into quotidian functionality before a 10-minute teatime invites socialization among participants while bolstering pinkie endurance.
The award-winning instructors and international champions at Krav Maga Illinois impart their discipline's techniques and secrets to novices and experienced students alike. First developed by Imi Lichtenfeld for Israeli defense forces and based on natural responses, krav maga has since swept the fitness and self-defense worlds as an effective, challenging martial art with one rule - get home safe. The Krav Maga Illinois schedule offers more than 50 classes a week for kids aged 8 to 12, adults aged 13 and up, and kids who disguise themselves as adults beneath long trench coats. In addition, Chicagoland police teach classes intended specifically for members of law enforcement and the military. Though the studio specializes in the self-defense technique, other classes include boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, strength and conditioning, and Kali.
Licensed acupuncturist Michael Koziol first became interested in Traditional Chinese Medicine while living in Guangzhou, China. He returned to the United States to receive his master of science in Oriental Medicine, and now joins fellow acupuncturist Raminta Jonyniene in treating clients within a community setting. In addition to acupuncture, they offer tai chi classes to help reduce tension and increase flexibility.
A slideshow of Midwest Training Center's star fighters depicts them in various states of victory: sporting championship belts, hands raised by crowning referee, or slamming an opponent into the ground. Perhaps they owe their athletic prowess to the 3,000 square feet of space that the training center offers, complete with two fighting cages and one ring. That's where its instructors drill battling skills into fighters and teach MMA classes such as muay thai and Brazilian jujitsu.