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.
Winner of more than 100 mixed-martial-arts competitions, Tiger Schulmann shares his pride and love for fighting and self-defense with both adults and children in gyms across five states. From first-time grapplers to expert muay thai fighters, students of all fitness and experience levels are welcome to dive into a class at Schulmann’s. At more than 47 locations, adults can take classes in kickboxing, MMA, and jujitsu—the last of which instills students with the skill and confidence to take down opponents of any size, strength, or telekinetic ability. Kids, meanwhile, can learn martial arts for fun, or gain useful experience in bully prevention; the kids’ classes help victims immediately identify and safely diffuse situations when pitted against an aggressor.
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.
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.
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.
Bikram Yoga Shelton's certified instructors lead 90-minute classes that take place within a sultry practice space with 58% humidity and temperatures that reach as high as 103 degrees. In the therapeutic heat, they help students of all abilities achieve deeper, safer stretches and detoxifying perspiration. They walk their pupils through two breathing exercises and a powerful sequence of 26 standing and seated poses in each class to challenge muscles more effectively than bench-pressing a chakra. Each posture helps unleash torrents of oxygenating circulation throughout the body, promoting healthy organ function as the sustained stretches bolster stamina and flexibility. After class, students can rinse themselves in the onsite showers and retrieve any restless spirit animals they stashed in the studio's lockers.
As fitness enthusiasts stroll into Kayo Boxing's gym, they’ll see red heavy bags rocking with the force of kicks and punches, groups of people doing knuckle pushups or jumping rope, and a ring at the back occupied by boxers trading jabs. The scene is welcoming, but intense—and that's exactly how the USA Boxing–certified coaches intend it.
New guests can take advantage of classes intended for nonfighters, including group training sessions that help attendees get fit like a boxer—burning up to 1,000 calories per class. Like fighters, class participants execute footwork and reflex drills, and perfect their hand-eye coordination at the speed bag. For the competitive boxer or kickboxer, the center offers one-on-one training that incorporates modern boxing skills and techniques while building up strength, stamina, and agility. The instructors work with all ages and body types: they train kids by mixing sports conditioning with boxing and kickboxing to instill confidence and discipline while teaching self-defense techniques.