In the early 20th century, the Gracie family took the tenants of jujitsu, as taught by Japanese immigrant Mitsuyo Maeda, and put their own Brazilian spin on them. Now a century later, Renzo Gracie carries on the family tradition as the American forefather of brazilian jujitsu—and he’s the one who handed a black belt to Andy Papadopoulos, the instructor at Renzo Gracie Shoreline Academy. He honors his mentor, and the other members of the Gracie family under whom he’s trained, by teaching traditional brazilian jujitsu. The method of grappling focuses on taking the opponent to the ground, and then gaining control using wrestling techniques.
Military personnel, police officers and detectives have something in common besides high-risk jobs: Dennis Hill. The chief instructor at Aiki Academy of Self Defense, armed with a black belt in judo and a brown belt in Brazilian jujitsu, has trained members of all three professions in the art of hand-to-hand combat. He also teaches civilians at his 4,000-square-foot dojo, voted New Haven’s best martial-arts studio in 2012 by CT.com readers.
Hill and his team helm more than 50 classes per week. Sessions traffic in styles that range from kickboxing-focused combat hapkido and muay thai to krav maga, a fighting style that readies people for no-rules brawls, such as street fights or bare-knuckle-boxing matches held on cruise ships once maritime law kicks in. Fitness classes from kettlebell workouts to flexibility-enhancing yoga complement the self-defense courses, as do amenities such as an onsite playroom and free coffee in the spacious waiting room.
Overseeing more than 22 New England locations, Jack Brewer—a lifelong sailor—has tended to boats and provided peace of mind for their owners for nearly 50 years. At their 50-acre marina community, Brewer Pilots Point Marina’s year-round staff works to keep the family-friendly facility’s swimming pool, restaurant, clubhouse, and more than 800 boat slips in ship shape. Sailing schools for juniors teach recreational and competitive skills, and adult-oriented classes introduce students to sailing or help them brush-up on hoisting sails, maneuvering, and reading the wind based on the ripples in a pitcher of beer. Summer slips and events offer boating and entertainment through the warmer months, and indoor-storage options keep skiffs safe from Old Man Winter’s icy beard-cicles.