Blood & Iron Martial Arts' principal instructor Lee S. Smith and senior instructor Nicole Smith both love a good fight, whether with fist, knife, or sword. Mixing manuals penned by the masters of antiquity with a little modern combat science, the duo resurrects European styles of weapon fighting ranging from the Italian rapier and dagger to the German longsword to Single stick and German messer. They pack their weekly schedule full of two-hour classes, spending the first 90 minutes imparting the basics of balance, footwork, and body alignment needed to add a 3-foot metal extension to one's arm. They leave the last 30 minutes open for sparring sessions for authorized students, since application is the best way to master a skill and the world’s last dragon retired to Florida in 1986.
Grappling upon a history that spans eight decades and 300 locations worldwide, the instructors at Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu carry on the Gracie family's tradition of brazilian jiu-jitsu. In 1925, Carlos Gracie Sr. opened his first school in Rio de Janeiro, popularizing the combat art as a competitive sport. He then passed on his knowledge to his brothers, who went on to thrive in Brazil's combat circles, and would eventually inaugurate his son, Carlos Gracie Jr., into this "gentle art." Gracie Jr. grew up immersed in brazilian jiu-jitsu, honing his skills and values while grappling with his father, uncles, brothers, and cousins, all of whom were some of the most influential fighters in brazilian jiu-jitsu's history. Dedicated to upholding his family's legacy, he opened Gracie Barra in 1986 to share his passion for the sport with students of all experience levels and backgrounds.
Specializing in group and private instruction in the ways of brazilian jiu-jitsu and muay thai kick-boxing, his instructors teach not only combat techniques, but also the values of self-respect, discipline, and integrity. Throughout the pristine studio, students of all ages train in circles or spar with one another to perfect their moves, writhing on target pads like snakes slicked in butter. The instructors foster a free-form network of friendship and support, and teach students to channel the self-confidence acquired in class throughout every aspect of their daily lives.
Early in the morning, on February 2, 2012, WKX Gym burned to the ground. It was a big setback, but one that the staff fought back against like a phoenix in boxing gloves. Through the hard work of its owners and trainers, WKX reopened at a different location just a little more than a month later.
Similarly, WKX's instructors motivate their students to push through challenges as they build skills in MMA, boxing, and muay thai kickboxing classes. To help students get the most out of their training, the gym even hosts special seminars lead by accomplished fighters.
Along with his team of certified instructors, fifth-degree kick-boxing black belt Cory Wachal harnesses his more than 20 years of teaching experience into a stranglehold to imbue students at Wachals' Martial Arts Academy with the discipline to master kick-boxing, mixed martial arts, and Machado brazilian jiu-jitsu. In kick-boxing classes, students learn techniques that blend moves from karate, muay thai kick-boxing, and american kick-boxing. In mixed-martial-arts sessions, teachers run through offensive and defensive manoeuvres that guard against tap outs or deadly tap-dance attacks. In addition to training adults, Wachals' Martial Arts Academy teaches self-defense to children while emphasizing the supporting pillars of respect, hard work, and focus.