Manchu soldiers set out to destroy the Siu Lam Monastery more than 250 years ago, but luckily for martial-arts practitioners, the Buddhist elders inside escaped. One of them was Ng Mui, who, while in hiding, created the self-defense style known today as wing tsun. Instructors at Wing Tsun Kwoon, which is a branch of the Carson Wing Tsun Academy, teach students to reduce their victimization by exuding confidence. They also teach pupils how to defend themselves if they come under attack by someone trying to steal the jewels set in their bellybuttons. Wing tsun practice boasts more than the benefit of self-defense; it can also tone muscles, torch calories, boost flexibility, and improve balance. In the spirt of the Carson Wing Tsun Academy, it focuses on helping its students on their own personal growth, development, and actualization.
Vibrant yellow walls wrap around the intimate-café interior of Vee Vee’s African Restaurant as chefs churn out traditional West African cuisines focused on Nigerian delicacies. The casual BYOB atmosphere stimulates conversation as patrons nosh on starters of egusi soup and fried plantains sporting delectable caramelized edges, before introducing taste buds to more meat-centric entrees, such as jerk chicken partnered with much friendlier sides of rice and red beans. Highlighted by Centerstage Chicago, Vee Vee’s eatery makes an impression on locals and tourists afar hosting Black History Month dinners, pounding the pavement at college cultural festivals, and as a "staple at neighborhood festivals throughout the city including the Taste of Chicago."
If you've ever played Mortal Kombat II, you've met Coach Anthony Marquez. You probably just know him as Kung Lao, the Shao Lin monk sporting a razor-edged hat. After lending his likeness and skills to Midway Games for the iconic fighting title, he opened his own gym?EKF Martial Arts?to share his fighting style with real-life students. EKF actually stands for "Extreme Kung Fu," and Coach Tony, as students call him, teaches a lot of martial arts to adults and kids throughout the week. Kung fu's graceful, powerful movements help students improve flexibility, speed, and body control, both in unarmed fighting styles and weapon forms. Any Monday or Wednesday a visit to the gym might find students wielding one-time tools of war, from familiar swords and staffs to the exotic and strange rope darts and chain whips.
Though Kung Fu is Coach Tony's specialty, he loves all forms of fighting. He himself also teaches competitive sanshou, a form of Chinese kickboxing known for its graceful takedowns. Other instructors at the gym?former and current professionals of various disciplines?cover muay thai, boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and, of course, MMA. The gym is home to a handful of MMA fighters who compete at the amateur level, and boast a nearly four-year long uninterrupted winning streak. The varied training regimen, which includes intense conditioning classes affectionately referred to as "The Eliminator," aims to produce well-rounded fighters with the strength, conditioning, and confidence to wear shorts of any length, at any time.
USA Karate Federation Hall of Fame honoree and four-time Panamerican Karate champion John Fonseca teams up with three-time world karate champion Elisa Au Fonseca and a cadre of talented instructors to lead their charges through martial-arts and fitness classes that strengthen minds and bodies. Though the martial-arts program mainly focuses on shotokan and shito-ryu karate, the sensei also offers aikido, judo, Gracie jujitsu, muay thai kickboxing, and wing tsun classes. Bushy-tailed neophytes start at the beginning, learning the basics of their chosen form, whereas advanced students delve into such mind-focused arenas as chi energy training and personally apologizing to every punching bag they have ever hurt.
Instructors also lead fitness-centered sessions that build muscle and burn calories. Cardio-kick classes merge elements of martial-arts, boxing, and aerobics to form an ever-changing cardiovascular workout infused with heart-pumping kicks and punches. Boot-camps delve athletes even deeper into whole-body fitness by challenging them to nonstop military-style drills for a full 45 minutes, or approximately the time it takes to jump rope through an entire episode of Magnum, P.I..