Brazilian Jujitsu dominates mixed-martial-arts competitions and has captured the imaginations of hundreds of aspiring fighters, including Tito Hatz, the head instructor and current owner of East Coast United. To hone his skills, Tito travelled to Brazil to train under members of the Gracie family, the clan credited with originating modern Brazilian Jujitsu. As an instructor, he believes in sculpting bodies of all ages and genders into the physiques of elite athletes. Students at his gym grapple through the traditional exercises of Brazilian Jujitsu or pummel unseen opponents with the lightning foot, fist, elbow, and knee strikes of muay thai kickboxing. Those interested in professional fighting undertake training in a blend of the two arts in mixed-martial-arts classes. Certified yoga instructor Maywatte Hartz teaches relaxation and mental focus in her Vinyasa yoga classes, which focus on mastering deep breathing and flowing movements.
The classes at TCK Mixed Martial Arts are intense, but the mood is upbeat. Students sweat through classes as they perform drills such as grappling, kicking, conditioning, or sparring, depending on their chosen sport. Instructors lead a variety of programs for adults and children, including Brazilian jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, tae kwon do, and karate. TCK often holds morning workout sessions, as well as open mat sessions during which students can spar and test their new moves.
For more than 25 years, the martial-arts masters at USA Martial Arts New York have worked toward one goal: to improve their students’ mental and physical strength. They achieve this goal through an assortment of martial-arts and cardio classes designed to help students of virtually any age and skill level to master control of their bodies while gaining self-confidence and discipline. Students looking to shed calories without the monotony of the gym can heave blows into heavy bags during cardio kickboxing classes.
Led by founder Master Malick Coulibaly dit Fall, Harlem Tae Kwon Do’s talented instructors teach both children and adults the art of tae kwon do. Despite the challenges of establishing a tae kwon do business in Harlem, Master Fall never gave up, searching relentlessly until a 4,400-square-foot space opened up in the center of the neighborhood. The persistence of Master Fall's search speaks to his character as leader as well as the spirit of his instruction, which emphasizes discipline, self-confidence, and concentration. Offering more than 25 classes each week, Harlem Tae Kwon Do instructs students of all ages and ability levels in traditional sessions, which focus on self-defense and form, as well as in Olympic classes that center on sparring techniques and the proper way to match gold medals with khaki.
Like mounting an HDTV on a terra-cotta warrior, Excel Yoga blends the ancient and the modern, shepherding students of all experience levels through serene yoga sessions, sultry belly-dancing lessons, and high-energy kickboxing and boot-camp fitness classes. A sense of community weaves throughout the studio, from the eco-friendly bamboo flooring to courses that bring families into the fitness fold, such as Kids Yoga and Mommy & Me Yoga.
Beyond its slate of exercise classes, workshops deepen yogis’ relationship with various aspects of yoga. The Anatomy Workshop, for example, blends discussion and practice to explore how certain poses can relieve physical disorders. Excel Yoga even cultivates its own fleet of enthusiastic instructors through intensive teacher training that outfits prospective pedagogues with the knowledge, poses, and sweat-proof grade books they need to lead classes.
Under the sage instruction of the Higashi family, Kokushi Budo Institute has produced Olympians and judo national champions throughout its 50-plus years of history. Shintaro Higashi—a two-time national judo champion himself—takes charge of judo instruction, teaching participants the art's signature grappling and throwing techniques. Nobuyoshi Higashi—a retired SUNY professor and the author of many martial-arts books—uses his own research to teach a style of jujitsu he designed, which combines techniques of his own invention with traditional moves venerated through more than 400 years of history.