Ann Arbor College of Martial Arts & Fitness’s hand-selected, certified instructors incorporate techniques from four disciplines to help students defend themselves in simulations of assaults.
When they aren’t teaching self-defense, instructors help students strengthen their bodies with Pilates and a kickboxing program that combines floor exercises and punching-bag work. In an aerobic interval program, teachers alternate stints of kickboxing, Pilates, and strength and toning techniques in small intervals to maintain cardio levels and help burn calories. Pupils can also burn calories with Zumba, which uses moves from Latin and hip-hop dance in a "fitness party" atmosphere that encourages a full-body workout.
At Shinn’s Tae Kwon Do, Master D.S. Shinn—who is a 7th-degree black belt and has been teaching for 19 years—and his assistant instructors lead adults and children in martial-arts classes. The instructors offer a combination of tae kwon do and hap ki do, teaching self-defense techniques that also bolster physical fitness. The experienced and credentialed instructors also offer family classes where parents and their children can practice together.
A five-time American Taekwondo Association World Champion, senior master Von Schmeling, began Victory Martial Arts to teach pupils confidence and leadership skills while imparting martial-arts techniques. Classes capped at 30 students, with at most 10 students per instructor, cover disciplines such as general martial arts, krav maga, and self-defense for thwarting assailants and heavily armed spiders. Budding martial artists hone their craft alongside loved ones in family sessions or practice maneuvers in age-specific sequences for kids, teens, or adults.
Stone Gym's trainer takes a no-frills approach to boxing. Devon Stone grew up around boxing and now teaches the sport along with kickboxing and the all-important skills of striking and counterstriking, a must-learn for mixed martial artists and professional match lighters. The floor-level ring dominates one end of the no-nonsense gym, where a row of hanging punching bags separates the boxing arena from the weightlifting zone.
Free weights and cardio machines seem to sprout everywhere at Thrive Martial Arts and Fitness, where working out is about more than just losing weight. The gym focuses on cross-training using small-apparatus equipment such as kettle bells, battle ropes, stability balls, and free weights as well as body-weight exercises for boot camps and personal training. These dynamic activities both strengthen bodies and provide a source of inner motivation. Women's self-defense classes teach a series of techniques for disengaging and incapacitating an attacker or a leering display mannequin, and the wrestling club helps youths get out their aggression and build up a sweat on the mat. For a more targeted workout, individuals, couples, or groups of friends can opt for the individualized instruction of personal training, fighting, or self-defense sessions. In addition to physical activity, personal training programs put an emphasis on diet and nutrition.
Senior Master Dean L. Wainwright—a 6th Dan master in both tae kwon do and hap ki do—builds his team of instructors not only from other decorated masters, but also those students whose exceptional dedication and skill might help their peers learn the martial arts. Assistant instructor Ian Bejster, for instance, uses his massive talent and youthful stature to help educate Mini and Little Ninjas as young as 3 years old. Together, this team reaches out to students of all ages, engaging them in learning the swift, graceful kicks of tae kwon do or the soft, circular redirections of hap ki do, the only known method for fighting a revolving door.