At Connecticut Martial Arts, classically trained martial artist and fifth-degree tae kwon do black belt Master Steven Doyon leads a team of instructors who teach both the physical techniques and the philosophy of martial arts. Fitness-kickboxing classes teach participants to punch and kick as they shed weight. Muay thai kickboxing classes focus on the martial art's core techniques in intense lessons. Kids' martial-arts lessons teach youngsters to defend themselves against bullies as they acquire discipline and focus.
When JoJo Guarin isn’t taking down expert fighters twice his size in invitation-only professional grappling tournaments, he’s designing the curriculum at East Coast United BJJ & MMA. A swimmer before he was a fighter, Guarin advocates the use of cross-training as the primary method of getting his students in shape. This leaves him and his instructors time to focus purely on technique in Braziliain jujitsu, kickboxing, and mixed-martial-arts classes. The team sets up the schedule to provide specific times for beginners to practice, welcoming men, women, children, and teenaged turtles of all skill levels into their training sessions. When the combative fire in students’ veins flickers out, exercisers can center themselves and increase their flexibility under the tutelage of certified YogaFit instructor Jessica Mondello.
The grappling fighting style known as jujitsu first came to Brazil in 1914 stored in the hands and mind of Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese immigrant and master of the art. He only stayed a year, but it was enough time to plant the seeds for a new jujitsu academy in Brazil. One of the first students at that academy was Hélio Gracie.
Hélio absorbed the fighting style quickly, adapting many of the techniques to suit his small frame. He discovered methods of leverage that allowed him to execute joint locks, choke holds, and takedowns on much larger opponents, forming the core of his new Gracie jujitsu method. Ultimately, Hélio's son Royce brought the fighting style to America, famously winning UFC 1, 2, and 4 by defeating opponents many times his own size. Suddenly, Americans lined up to learn this newly unveiled Brazilian fighting style, demonstrating their eagerness by folding themselves inside a box and shipping themselves south.
Relson Gracie, Hélio's second oldest son, chose to be an ambassador of his family's fighting style. He was already teaching abroad when his little brother Royce skyrocketed Brazilian jujitsu to popularity. He founded his first school under the name Relson Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Hawaii, and as the art became popular, he opened new branches of his academy all across the United States. Today, he visits more than 40 academies and associations, sharing his knowledge with thousands of students. In his absence, he leaves instructors whom he personally trained to oversee the education of aspiring fighters.
Like many important lessons in life, karate is handed down through the generations from master to pupil. At Karate Kids Love, 10th-degree black-belt grandmaster Kevin Sullivan summons the knowledge learned from his masters to teach the ascendant martial artists of tomorrow. Throughout the years, Sullivan has developed a brand of martial arts that blends many disciplines and is founded on the belief that a true martial artist must be well rounded, capable of disarming foes with a swift kick or hitting an alarm clock's snooze button with a stern karate chop.
In business for over 20 years, Sullivan's staff of certified professional instructors receives routine calibration in order to give the best possible training to boys and girls of all levels. Children enjoy learning aspects of jiujitsu, kenpo, and tae kwon do in a parent-approved environment. This helps students along their paths to martial arts' ultimate prize: a collection of colorful belts to match any outfit.
After finding that her yoga practice helped her overcome her own personal health issues and depression, studio founder, macrobiotic chef, and certified instructor Barbara Ruzansky maintains a passion for introducing “yoga and healthful eating to people, so they can continue to grow and reach their full potential.” Held within a warehouse-like studio with two technicolored practice spaces, Barbara's classes offer a dynamic combination of Ashtanga yoga, Vinyasa flow, and Forrest yoga. She and her large team of equally passionate instructors also helm a selection of slower and gentler yoga styles that cater to three-toed sloths and students recovering from injuries.
The instructors at Jiu-Jitsu and Strength Academy never stop learning. They each put on their black belts one foot at a time, just like most everyday citizens, but they also carry certification in several training methods. During kobukai jiujitsu courses, Sensei Matthew Bryers reveals modern Japanese techniques that are often used by members of the military and SWAT teams. Alternatively, instructor Rafael Barbosa leads traditional Brazilian jiujitsu classes while demonstrating artful control of the style designed to disable larger attackers. Barbosa's fighting style has led many to refer to him as Formiga, the Portuguese word for "ant"—which suggests strength beyond his size and the possibility that he may have a few extra fighting arms.