Grandmaster Dennis Tosten founded the first Amerikick in 1967 and has since taught several champion fighters, police officers, and everyday students karate and self-defense. Today, the lauded chain teaches fitness classes inspired by martial arts, including cardio kickboxing in six states. Each location upholds a curriculum that blends Chinese and Japanese martial-arts styles—including kenpo and tae kwon do—with modern self-defense strategies, further updating traditional practices by eschewing uniforms and belts for casual workout gear. Having attained certification in teaching kickboxing from the National Association of Professional Martial Artists, Amerikick's seasoned instructors also each possess black belts in karate, a rank as difficult to attain as the snake charmer's belt of live cobras.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Patrick Delgado has fought more than 20 MMA, kickboxing, and boxing matches throughout his pro and amateur careers. Today, however, he and his team at Fearless MMA focus on the next generation of fighters. Their Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, kickboxing, and Tae Kwon Do programs emphasize mental skills as much as physical ones, such as being able to lift a 25-pound championship belt. Exercisers who want a more traditional workout can sign up for one of the studio's strength and conditioning classes.
On the blue and springy expanse of AKF Martial Arts Academy's floor, uniformed students kick, jab, and whirl between defensive movements. Stripes of color bedeck their waists, showcasing what level they've reached and the score of their focus and determination.
It may surprise some parents, then, to hear what Master Cantin has to say about his studio. Unlike curricula at many other schools, he says, programs at AKF do not focus on heavy combat, tournament training, Eastern philosophy, or how to rope cattle by twirling a black belt. What his programs do achieve is something even more important and nuanced: building character and athletic prowess. Master Cantin and his fellow instructors count confidence, discipline, and listening among the skills they strive to instill, along with physical agility and stamina. In this way, the AKF team expands students' sense of self, and equips them with tools they can apply to all manner of challenges throughout life. And because many levels can train at once, whole families often enroll together, with parents and kids learning alongside one another.
Chuck Masny describes himself as an “eternal student of the martial arts,” always learning more about his chosen disciplines despite the black belts in Goshin jiujitsu and American karate that already encircle his waist. Chuck brings his insatiable appetite for refinement to his classes, encouraging his students to ask why a technique is performed a certain way or to adjust motions to suit their unique physiques. This allows students to determine what mix of fitness exercise and self-defense training best suits their needs.
Chuck’s youth programs focus on developing not only the physical fitness skills that will grow into combat ability, but also the mental skills important to a child’s scholastic success. Kids practice listening and self-discipline and engage in a “bully-proofing” program in which they learn how to deflect insults by mentally transforming their bodies into rubber. Adult classes swing the focus to the practical underpinnings of self-defense, studying why and how certain moves and combinations work to arm students against real-world violence. Chuck also schedules cardio-enriched kickboxing classes, which incinerate calories in a furnace powered by flying fists and feet.
At Ballistic Fighting Methods, parents and teachers train alongside law-enforcement agents as they learn Bruce Lee’s personal martial-arts system, jeet kune do. Adults learn practical, real-world self-defense skills, and antibullying seminars teach conflict resolution and martial arts to children. Instructors build cardio-kickboxing classes around real boxing and kickboxing techniques, so students learn how to harness a fierce right cross while simultaneously sculpting and shaping a stronger body.