A sun rising over a crashing wave. This is the logo for Sunrise Taekwondo and Fitness Kickboxing—a logo that symbolizes the start of a new day; a logo that celebrates Taekwondo Master and owner Christopher Smith’s first style of taekwondo training, known simply as Blue Wave. From within the calm confines of his taekwondo training and fitness center, Smith and his team educate students on the basics of self-defense. Beyond pure movement, each cardio-fueled session carries an overall emphasis on respect, discipline, and working together in a supportive, team-like environment.
Grandmaster Taek Sung Cho has accrued more than 40 years of martial-arts experience and a host of titles on his resumé, including coach for the International Junior Taekwondo Championships and the U.S. Junior Olympic Taekwondo Team. However, he derives the most reward from his role as teacher, a position he has coveted since establishing Master Cho's Talium in 1991. Working with expert instructors, he imparts the value of community and inner balance through the lens of tae kwon do technique.
Master Cho's lessons amplify confidence as well as coordination in young children, teens, and adults. Students can practice with others in their age group or alongside their families, depending on whether their school bus or their house transforms into a giant fighting robot. Kardio Kickboxing workouts toast calories with rapid jabs, and the staff emphasize the social aspect of self-defense training by hosting summer camps and birthday parties.
The royal-blue mat beckons fighters to test their skills, drawing on bujinkan budo taijutsu and ancient Japanese fighting techniques. But Bujinkan Bukeyashiki Dojo doesn't expect them to achieve the skills to succeed on their own. The dojo leads ninja classes for young kids, shinobi classes for teens, and self-defense classes for adults to get them prepared to strike, grapple, and manipulate joints, plus use weapons and survive against multiple attackers.
The dedicated instructors at Afro Brazilian Cultural Center of New Jersey see capoeira as more than a blend of dance and martial arts—they see it as a way of life. They train children and adults of all ages in capoeira's graceful movements through classes, therapy sessions, and afterschool programs, many of the instructors drawing from extensive training in Brazil and an understanding of Brazilian folklore and culture. But their instruction doesn’t end at capoeira—many of the Cultural Center's coaches specialize in disciplines including yoga, Zumba, salsa, and West African dance. Though many of the instructors were born and raised in New Jersey, others hail from places such as Guinea and Senegal and infuse their culture into their teaching style. The instructors hold classes at least once a week and more frequently for students preparing to dance-battle chaperones for control of the prom.
A veteran of more than 200 amateur, semi-pro, and professional fights, Endgame Combat Sports Academy's Eddy Rolon knows how to handle himself in the ring, cage, and on the mat. Eddy sets the tone at the academy, where he and other accomplished instructors teach a full schedule of grappling, MMA, and striking classes. Their training facility, located inside Gold's Gym, provides plenty of space for students to learn new moves and stare down mouthy punching bags.
CKO’s trainers boil their philosophy down to three words: Be, Do, Have. Those trainers all found their passion for pounding the stuffing out of heavy bags at the gym itself before rising through its ranks to teach there. The approach they fell in love with favors fitness training over combat, and pits students against the weightiest bags around to simulate a boxing match with a rhino.