Jing Ying literally translates to "best of the best," a term befitting of both the teachers at Jing Ying Institute of Kung Fu & Tai Chi, and the students who learn from them. A team of seasoned black-sash instructors?many of whom have competed in national championships?helm progressive programs that help trainees hone strength and flexibility as they learn self-discipline. The schedule offers more than two-dozen classes each week, and includes training in classical and contemporary forms, sparring, and weapons. Age-appropriate kung fu classes, for instance, introduce the graceful throws and takedowns that enable students to use their opponents' own force against them. Contemporary wushu classes then build on that training by introducing acrobatic strikes and other movements. Therapeutic tai chi, women's shaolin fitness, and private personal training sessions round out the class roster.
Jing Ying also gives its students ample space to train. Housed inside a former boat-building facility, the more-than 6,000 square-foot space features three mirror-walled training areas equipped with padded or wood floors or quicksand, as well as private changing rooms and an array of fitness gear including heavy bags and pull-up bars.
The dance floor at Roda Movements sizzles with the dance and martial-arts forms of Brazil and Latin America. In capoeira classes, students gather in a circle playing drums, the single-stringed berimbau, and the tambourine, taking turns moving to the center to perform acrobatic movements that blend sparring techniques with graceful sweeping motions of the native dance style. Brazilian jiujitsu teaches grappling techniques for fighting on the ground, and Zumba sets a calorie-blasting aerobic-dance routine to Latin rhythms. The ballroom styles of salsa teach quick-paced steps to guests dancing solo, in pairs, or with a musically inclined mop. In addition to Latin dance and martial-arts classes, patrons can build muscles while whittling their waistlines in yoga and African-dance classes. Also catering to the wee ones, kids-only versions of specific classes helped Roda Movements earn a Best of the Best award from the Takoma Voice.
LA Boxing’s fight-centric gyms ditch the polished look of wood-floored workout studios for gritty, competitive spaces filled with 150-pound punching bags and intense workouts. Like a baker molding gingerbread men, LA Boxing sculpts six-packs with boxing, kickboxing, and mixed-martial-arts classes. Although instructors and students agree that the gym’s atmosphere may enkindle intimidation in first-time attendees, most experience boosted self-confidence after conquering their first class. Private training sessions further stoke courage with workouts that leave patrons with the exhilaration of having survived 12 rounds in the ring or five minutes in a high-school lunchroom.
At Potomac Kempo, professional instructors focus on fitness and exercise while teaching self-defense. They help their students build strength, balance, speed, endurance, and coordination, as a way to liven up repetitive fitness routines or add to non-existent ones. Perhaps more importantly, they incorporate the key elements of martial arts—allowing each of their students to reduce stress, increase energy, improve focus, and gain self-discipline.
At First Class Martial Arts, children may learn basic martial arts strikes. On the other hand, they could learn how to play dodge-ball like a ninja. The coaching studio enrolls students of all ages in structured programs, but also organizes camps and birthday parties around whimsical martial arts games. The age-appropriate classes draw elements from several disciplines, including tae kwon do, kickboxing, karate, and judo. In each, instructors introduce practical self-defense skills alongside core martial arts principles. Each class takes place in First Class's airy, well-lit studio, where padded floors provide ample room for learning new techniques and sparring with an imaginary though still impossible-to-beat Jackie Chan.