It's difficult to tell whether Master Thomas Gordon or Master Gregory Bledsoe would win in a fight. That's because the two martial-arts instructors have worked on the same team for more than a decade. In that time, they've developed a teaching style that has caught the attention of the local and national press.
All the attention is warranted, because Masters Gordon and Bledsoe aren't just effective instructors—they're avid students of their craft. Gordon, for example, has attended countless tae kwon do seminars and camps, and he can articulately speak about the discipline's history as well as flawlessly demonstrate its self-defense techniques. Both instructors are also acutely aware of the real-life applications of tae kwon do and hapkido. Plenty of police officers have attended their classes looking to get a leg up on the next criminal, and kids and teens use their newly acquired moves to defend against bullies or rip up impossible math tests.
The instructors at Tiger-Rock Martial Arts have set out to engineer the perfect martial-arts workout, and they think they’ve done it. The secret formula samples traditional ho-am taekwondo, hanmudo, and personal-safety techniques for a curriculum that emphasizes fitness and self-defense. Tiger-Rock's teachers are certified in CPR and first aid, and they work with everyone from young kids to adults.
A family-owned exercise facility recognized by the International Taekwondo Alliance, Killearn Lakes Taekwondo staffs a troupe of certified instructors to lead tykes as young as 4 and adults of every age through yoga stretches, jazzercise aerobics, and tae kwon do kicks. Muscles can contort with a one-hour Vinyasa yoga session, and kids can test the yogi waters with specialized classes that develop flexibility and meditation through fun stories, songs, and games. Killearn also strengthens and molds physiques with a schedule of 60-minute jazzercise jams—heart-pumping aerobic and strength-training workouts set to fast-paced beats, including Top 40 hits, country favorites, and Scott Joplin's workout videos. Individuals or families can also embark on a martial-arts journey with one of the studio’s tae kwon do programs, including a Tiger Cubs club, which teaches nascent kickers the building blocks of martial arts and how to stand out for college-football recruiters.
Professor Gallop Franklin shuns half measures. Not content to settle on one black belt, he trotted headlong into four—one in goju karate, one in tae kwon do, one in tang soo do, and one in nisei goju. A devoted martial artist since 1963, Gallop pulls from his lifetime of training and instructional experience to lead karate classes at his dojo, Gallop’s Karate. Red and blue mats stretch across the floor of a facility more than 2,000 square feet, where he and his staff of kick-smart martial artists lead students of all ages through karate techniques and training exercises, aiming to enhance physical fitness levels while building confidence and discipline. The instructors infuse adult classes with rigorous drills of functional exercises—a regimen described by reporters from Tallahassee Magazine as “a mind-boggling number of jumping jacks, pushups, karate sit-ups and leg lifts.”
In addition to traditional karate classes, trainers also conduct an energetic boot-camp program that combines martial arts movements with high-intensity exercises. The staff hosts a daily after-school program as well, where they engage youngsters in crafts, games, and karate lessons. They offer students assistance in homework, help them study for tests, and lend constructive feedback on their performance art pieces expressing anguish over bad cafeteria food.
Many of the students at Train. Fight. Win. Tallahassee come because they're preparing for a competition—a boxing match, say, or an MMA fight. But you don't have to have any intention of stepping into the ring to gain from the classes, since many promise health benefits that are valuable to anyone. The conditioning courses, for instance, help students build strength and endurance through pull-ups, pushups, and tire flips, and cardio boxing classes raise the heart rate with punching drills and other exercises. Personal trainers push clients to the next level, whether they wish to lose fat, gain muscle, or develop the endurance to read War and Peace without stopping to catch their breath.
Lead by Master Chad Wilbur, a sixth-degree black belt, Martial Arts Fitness Academy offers comprehensive martial-arts classes for students of all ages and ability levels. Wilbur realized that students enter into martial arts for a variety of reasons, so he's designed his programs to focus on more than just learning basic skills—they teach self-defense, self-esteem, and building life skills as well. Programs include tae kwon do, mixed martial arts, kickboxing, and Israeli self-defense classes.