Former police officer Brian Johnson has been practicing martial arts for 31 years. That may be hard to believe, but it's obvious to anyone who's ever taken one of the classes at his Academy in Lacey. Johnson and his team teach students how to defend themselves in real-life situations, emphasizing self-discipline through classes in Muay Thai kickboxing, Brazilian jujitsu, and Hulk smash. They even take on students as young as 3, teaching them basic techniques that build listening skills and coordination.
Shihan David has been studying martial arts for nearly 20 years. He brings his expertise and experience to Kiai Martial Arts, where his intimate classes for kids, teens, and adults cover both the physical and mental aspects required to learn karate. For warriors ready to put their skills to use, he oversees self-defense classes and sparring in safe and guided sessions. During pole fitness classes, she uses her spacious studio to teach students the moves and how to improvise using any nearby lampposts. Kiai also hosts zumba classes three days a week.
Owner and black-belt Donna Middendorf of Sumner Taekwondo Academy leads a team of instructors who share their expertise in Korean hand-to-hand combat with kids and adults. And while the classes spend time with the more martial aspects of the art, they're really not about fighting. For Donna and the team, Taekwondo promotes peace through learning self-respect and gaining confidence—it's the heart of the discipline. At the same time, the instructors help students hone their punching and kicking skills and they engage with their peers in safe, supervised sparring sessions and fully-padded staring contests.
The Little Gym fosters the healthy growth of children by allowing them to progress at their own pace in a nonthreatening, nurturing environment. As wee ones from 4 months to 12 years-old tackle challenges, overcome fears, and learn to confidently express their opinions about Platonic theory, The Little Gym's original music graces their ears and supports their lessons. The month includes four classes that let tots develop through weekly, age-specific curriculum, with programs including pre-school/kindergarten gymnastics, dance, sports-skills development, and karate.