Pat Tray likes to keep things simple: his vision is for a program of practical self-defense that encourages excellence and friendship. The owner and head instructor of Trident Academy of Mixed Martial Arts, Pat introduces students to a diverse study in fighting styles, from the fierce standup striking of muay thai to the leverage and technique of jujitsu. His students also delve into jeet kune do, the brainchild of legendary fighter Bruce Lee, as well as Filipino weapons fighting.
Since its founding by some of the most distinguished jujitsu experts in the past 50 years, the nonprofit organization USA Jiu Jitsu has helped establish jujitsu as a professional sport, teaching the ancient practice to students across the country. At its Springfield location, students of all ages build strength and endurance as they tumble and kick during Brazilian jujitsu, combat fitness, and kickboxing classes.
Positivity. Simple as it sounds, it's a central pillar of the philosophy behind Jason Yi's Tae Kwon Do College. At each of the school's five locations, the warm, supportive atmosphere starts with the instructors. Sure, they pass along years of martial arts wisdom, but they also strive to help students–younger ones, especially–realize that having fun doesn't necessarily mean sitting in front of a TV, or arguing the legitimacy of the moon landing with an imaginary friend. Through programs for kids, teens, and even entire families, the college's instructors lead students along a path that builds self-confidence and improves self-defense techniques. Instructors build on these same skills in the college's extracurricular offerings, which include after-school programs, birthday parties, and week-long summer camps.
Suldbayar “Sugi” Damdin, a judo instructor at Northern Virginia Mixed Martial Arts & Fitness, represented Mongolia when he competed in judo for the 2004 Olympics. His colleague, boxing and CrossFit instructor Derek Sierra, was once a Master Fitness Trainer for the US Army and has amassed more than two decades of boxing experience. Résumés like these are common at the martial-arts and self-defense oriented fitness studio, where every instructor is either a current or former competitive athlete. Whether they're teaching muay thai kickboxing, boxing, or mixed martial arts, the veteran instructors ensure that their charges’ self-confidence rises along with their stamina, flexibility, and frequency of dreams about punching bags.