Aikido is the "loving protection of all beings," in the words of Morihei Ueshiba, who created the martial-arts style. Although it sometimes incorporates wooden weapons, at its heart, aikido seeks to act as a replacement for violence. Greg O'Connor, founder and chief instructor at Aikido Centers of New Jersey, brings Ueshiba's tenets to his students, who have included children and seniors, as well as members of the New Jersey State Police, the Department of Homeland Security, and the US Secret Service. O'Connor and more than 40 other instructors teach students self-defense tactics that redirect attacks, as well as more advanced methods that include wooden sword and staff training and aikido's dramatic falls and rolls.
Seasoned instructors lead children and adults through the jabs, blocks, and kicks of traditional and Olympic style Taekwondo, as well as helm select fitness classes. In addition to teaching students how to defend themselves against attackers and hostile pinewood boards, they work to boost their self-confidence, discipline, and concentration during classes designated by belt level.
Eagle Mixed Martial Arts’ owner and chief instructor Master Jan is a man of simple tastes: he enjoys sparring, archery, watching Jackie Chan’s Drunken Master, and molding the lives of students through ancient training regimens. Assisted by a team of teachers—many of who were or still are his own students—the Master imparts the wisdom he gained on his way to a fifth-degree black belt during kids’ karate classes, adult fitness kickboxing classes, and full mixed martial arts conditioning. Students switch styles, learning basic self-defense techniques, advanced muay thai strikes, and the grappling art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which uses a combination of choke holds, joint locks, and discretely hidden car keys to trap an opponent.