When it comes to martial arts, Krav Defense founder and head instructor Anthony Santopadre has done it all. He began studying karate and judo 25 years ago, then earned his first and second black belts in the art of jujitsu. After 10 years of training, Santopadre decided to expand his horizons and belt collection yet again, studying for and receiving his third black belt in kung fu.
It was during his kung fu education that Santopadre discovered krav maga. The instinctive movements, practical techniques, and realistic training scenarios appealed to Santopadre, so he immersed himself in the discipline and became a certified level-three instructor through the Krav Maga Security Federation in Israel. He shares his ability to disable assailants and wrestle nuts away from squirrels in a variety of classes, including fitness-focused cardio sessions and ground-fighting classes that focus on takedowns and submissions. The techniques of krav maga are tools for self-defense that can be effectively carried out by men, women, and children.
The more than a dozen brick-and-mortar locations that make up Ultimate Champions Taekwondo Association share not only a style of combat, but a teaching philosophy as well. Tracing the lineage of their combative art back to Grandmaster Sang K. Oh, the instructors adhere to his teachings, exemplified by the quote, "The person who can defeat others with flashy techniques but is without love toward his fellow man will in the end defeat himself." Students use the physical empowerment of mastering jumps, kicks, and weapons to arm themselves with discipline, confidence, concentration, self-respect, and courtesy for others.
Outside of the classroom, the organization reaches out to the tri-state community with ample demonstrations of some of their most exciting techniques. Practitioners soar skyward in flying kicks or fill the air with the whirring blows of nunchakus, bos, and kamas. Fists slam through boards, balloons, and bricks to demonstrate the striking power of tae kwon do and the structural flaws in the Three Little Pigs' panic room.
American Academy of Self Defense's staff teaches centuries of martial-arts wisdom from various cultures into a curriculum of karate, jujitsu, kung fu, and kickboxing classes. The logo displays numerology to represent the ranks of the martial arts taught at the school; 10 stars and 10 stripes symbolize the 10 degrees of black belt all the way up to grandmaster.
But instructors don't stick to a single style in their quest for martial perfection, and their classes accommodate students of all ages. They teach a variety of skills, including the striking art kempo karate, the advanced grappling art of judo, and basic self-defense skills for men and women, working to instill strength, confidence, and self-esteem in their students. The school's senseis promise one-on-one attention and full participation in every class, leaving no one sidelined and wishing they could join in—as frequently happens in organized sports and never happens in royal family polo matches.
At Adel's International Karate Center, Sensei Adel Elbehiry oversees classes ranging from karate and Brazilian jujitsu to kids' martial arts. For those seeking to get in shape fast, cardio kickboxing courses teach self-defense skills while providing an invigorating workout that incorporates intervals and resistance training.
When students kick into one of the heavy bags dangling over Alpha Omega MMA's 20,000-square-foot training facility, they're following the same path trod by the gym's crew of professional and amateur fighters. A quintet of instructors trains clients in everything from the graceful takedowns and joint locks of Brazilian jiujitsu to the devastating short-range knee and elbow strikes of muay thai. They divide class groups up by student expertise, providing a venue for the casual exerciser to seek some conditioning and for aspiring fighters to hone their skills.
In addition to nurturing martial artistry, the staff also bends bodies with yoga and Pilates, restores energy with a full-service juice bar, and immediately puts the calories to good use in spinning classes. Kids leap into the fray with self-defense classes that center around a bullying-prevention curriculum, teaching tykes to stand up for themselves without resorting to violence unless it's absolutely necessary or limited to drop-kicking an imaginary friend into the sun to prove a point.
For more than two decades, Syosset Martial Arts Center has been a place for people to not only learn martial arts but to move toward healthy, balanced lifestyles. The black-belt instructors tutor students in shotokan karate, which focuses on building values and character as its students learn self-defense and sparring moves. Adult classes begin with a warm-up and review before they launch into sparring, bag work, or the day's theme—and the class is always a whole-body workout. In addition to karate, the instructors also teach Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a grappling-based martial art. These classes aim to help students gain confidence, lose weight, and learn how to defend themselves.
Kids' karate classes engage young ones with activities including obstacle courses and calisthenics and instill values such as self-confidence and discipline. They can celebrate turning a year older with a birthday party at the dojo, complete with pizza, karate-themed invitations, and protection from insane posses of clowns.