We are self-defense specialists! Schools of Aikido vary widely in orientation. At SJAA we focus on practical self-defense. We believe that Aikido is a living art so we continually strive to improve the effectiveness of what we teach. What works, we keep; what doesn't we drop.
Since 2000, Daddis Fight Camps has equipped thousands of students with the tools to be more confident and more effective in self-defense scenarios. Helmed by founder Brad Daddis, the Philadelphia- and New Jersey-based operation works with individuals all ages, genders, and athletic abilities. An assorted selection of programs speaks to that diversity, and includes Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai Boxing, and even a Tactical Urban Defense course. In that, students learn practical self-defense techniques, specifically those in close quarters combat they can use against a mugger or particularly tight blood-pressure cuff.
Since 1987, American Karate System has been preparing students of all levels for national championships, building a foundation for a lifetime of growth and improvement in martial arts. In his career, fifth-degree kenpo black-belt and national champion Mark Schiffman has worked with martial arts experts, police officers, and US marshals to master his craft. This training doesn't just improve self-defense and fitness?it also builds mental focus and discipline to help students improve in all areas of life.
Urban Defense Center founder Master Lawrence Whitaker developed his studio’s signature self-defense program to arm students with practical-minded moves that prepare them for dangerous street situations. Students learn to spar, take down an opponent, defend against weapons, and escape from the shadow of a suspicious-looking skyscraper. Students also train their gray matter, pre-empting potential legal repercussions for defending themselves by studying concepts such as reasonable grounds and probable cause. Alternatively, Tai-Fit sessions shuttle through a series of punches, knees, blocks, and kicks with the goal not of emulating a fight but of torching calories instead. Fighters can pursue either track with a personal trainer who pays closer attention to form and technique than a beauty contestant does during the Simon Says portion of the pageant.
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For the instructors at East West Team Martial Arts Philly, karate has always been a family affair. Master John McGonnigle Sr. earned his first black belt at age 16. His son and fellow instructor, John Jr., began to learn martial arts moves when he was two, imitating his dad while rolling around in his playpen. And Madison McGonnigle has gone from a student in the school's Little Ninjas program—geared toward 3–6-year-olds—all the way to becoming its teacher.
The McGonnigles put all of this expertise to use during their classes, in which they teach students of all ages the strikes and blocks of Shotokan karate, as well as the self-defense maneuvers of Krav Maga. All-in-all, they believe learning martial arts not only improves physical strength and the chances of defending yourself against dangerous wooden planks, but also character. Though they focus on rehearsing swift kicks and punches, each lesson also emphasizes values such as respect and teamwork.