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.
Helmed by a team of passionate climbing coaches, both of The Gravity Vault's locations surround climbers with more than 13,000 square feet of climbing space. Walls tower past 35 feet, mimicking such natural rock formations as overhangs, keyhole arches, and slabs, and bouldering areas challenge climbers with a latticework of problems that—unlike most of life's—can't simply be solved with dynamite and a pair of roller skates. Visitors can choose from up to 60 top-rope stations, trusting either the trained staff or a certified fellow climber to man the ropes while they scramble to the summit. When not dangling from a hold or saving lost kittens from a rappel ledge, members can bulk up in the cardiovascular-training area.
Aikido is the "loving protection of all beings," in the words of Morihei Ueshiba, who created the martial-arts style. Although it sometimes incorporates wooden weapons, at its heart, aikido seeks to act as a replacement for violence. Greg O'Connor, founder and chief instructor at Aikido Centers of New Jersey, brings Ueshiba's tenets to his students, who have included children and seniors, as well as members of the New Jersey State Police, the Department of Homeland Security, and the US Secret Service. O'Connor and more than 40 other instructors teach students self-defense tactics that redirect attacks, as well as more advanced methods that include wooden sword and staff training and aikido's dramatic falls and rolls.
School directors Diego Di Falco and Carolina Zokalski spent years dancing in Buenos Aires before they launched their professional dancing careers at the age of 20 by landing roles in the touring production of Forever Tango. When the show made its way to the U.S., the two became two of the youngest tango dancers in history to make it to Broadway. Like a puppy at show-and-tell, they earned enthusiastic acclaim, eventually picking up a Tony nomination for their choreography. These achievements were only the beginning of careers that graced the stages of Carnegie Hall, the Marquis Theatre, the Hollywood Bowl, and other esteemed venues.
Their reputations secured, Carolina and Diego turned to sharing the art of Argentinian dance with students, which they do today at Summit's Twin Maples mansion, a neoclassical home listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Inside, the hardwood dance floor is lit by chandeliers and accented by classical touches such as crown molding and bronze curtain rods, giving one the sense of dancing at a presidential ball or in a really, really fancy broom closet. There, the pair strives to make each step as authentic as possible by importing traditional music and guest artists directly from Argentina for the classes, workshops, and performances they helm.
Winner of more than 100 mixed-martial-arts competitions, Tiger Schulmann shares his pride and love for fighting and self-defense with both adults and children in gyms across five states. From first-time grapplers to expert muay thai fighters, students of all fitness and experience levels are welcome to dive into a class at Schulmann’s. At more than 47 locations, adults can take classes in kickboxing, MMA, and jujitsu—the last of which instills students with the skill and confidence to take down opponents of any size, strength, or telekinetic ability. Kids, meanwhile, can learn martial arts for fun, or gain useful experience in bully prevention; the kids’ classes help victims immediately identify and safely diffuse situations when pitted against an aggressor.
At Rhythmatic Martial Arts Academy, the staff strives to make self-defense and fitness accessible to all ages. The shining example of that desire is the studio's tae kwon do and Brazilian jujitsu programs, which feature time slots for kids, teens, and adults. Customers who want to burn calories can sign up for capoeira or cardio-kickboxing classes.
Whether coaching students as individuals or in a group setting, the certified instructors at the Westfield School of Dance draw from years of teaching and performance experience in their chosen styles. All are specialized in one to three disciplines of dance, and pass on their knowledge through a progressive syllabus in a range of classes. They organize students by skill level, coaching them in tap, jazz, modern dance, Russian ballet, and musical-theatre performance. For more experienced dancers and aspiring professionals, they also conduct work-study programs and student-teacher training. These experiences allow students to work alongside their teachers as well as guest artists to learn new choreography, develop teaching techniques, and uncover the mystery of what really happened that fateful night at Swan Lake.
Throughout the year, students are given the chance to showcase what they've learned in two venues. In the more minimalistic setting of the Black Box, beginner-level students perform original choreographed dance concerts. The annual spring Main Stage show folds novice through advanced dancers into a full-scale production, complete with live musicians, costumes, scenery, and props.