Fifth-degree black belt Hank Valadao has taught numerous students throughout his more than 25-year martial-arts career. At Fit Force, that number continues to grow with each martial-arts, kickboxing, or boot-camp class scheduled. The driving force of Valadao's passion is his energetic, upbeat demeanor, which rubs off on his staff, students, classes, and sweat towel.
In the tradition of mixed martial arts, experienced fighter Paul Mendoza and his expert instructors fuse boxing, weight lifting, and calisthenics to create whole-body workouts in their signature Fighter Fit Conditioning program. In addition to improving heart and lung function, the aim of the classes is to create leaner, more toned bodies of both men and women in a communal atmosphere. Matted training areas cover the 8,200-square-foot facility, where heavy bags and treadmills await pounding. Locker rooms for men and women store personal items.
Since martial artists Ernie Reyes and Tony Thompson co-founded the West Coast World Martial Arts Association, it has expanded to more than 30 affiliate schools. At West Coast Martial Arts in Modesto, acclaimed martial-arts master Rick Jones and his team advance the association's mission of teaching traditional and modern martial-arts techniques during youth and adult programs. To improve students' flexibility and conditioning—two of the most important skills behind screaming insanely—the instructors also schedule cardio kickboxing classes.
David Camarillo grew up on mats, training and competing with his brother at their father’s judo club. After a knee injury limited his standup fighting ability, David discovered the ground game of Gracie jiu-jitsu and welded it with his father’s tutelage to create the Guerilla jiu-jitsu system. Guerilla jiu-jitsu fuses the fluid movements of Brazilian forms with Olympic judo and wrestling into a nonstriking, grappling art for all ages and skill levels. Students learn to leverage their bodies against opponents of varying size as they gain skills that can be used in a competitive, self-defense, or recreational setting. In addition to jiu-jitsu classes, the multidisciplinary center offers sessions in muay thai kickboxing, as well as women’s self-defense sessions and anti-bullying classes that emphasize nonstriking and conflict-resolution skills.
Alexander Crispim, the muscular, prolific leader of Crispim BJJ Barra Brothers, presides over his blue-floored kingdom, watching as patrons battle one another with traditional brazilian jujitsu grappling techniques. Rows of heavy, black punching bags dangle between padded walls, all centered around the gym's main draw—the MMA cage, which is free of man-eating tigers. In addition to jujitsu, the gym offers a variety of combat-based programs including muay thai, boxing, and wrestling. Those looking for a high-intensity workout without the sparring can opt for MMA fitness classes, which turn traditional boxing and muay thai moves into aerobic routines to burn fat and build strength.
For more than 30 years, the senseis behind Martial Arts America have filled the minds and fists of students as young as 4 years old through adulthood with the focus, discipline, and confidence that comes from studying self-defense. The instructors lead five martial-arts forms—tae kwon do, eskrima, jujitsu, krav maga, and CDT training, which stands for compliance, direction, and takedown—helping patrons strengthen their bodies and minds. This multidimensional program trains students in defensive tactics such as strikes, grappling, throws, rolls, and using fighting sticks to protect innocent civilians from rogue baseball-pitching machines.