Led by founder Master Malick Coulibaly dit Fall, Harlem Tae Kwon Do’s talented instructors teach both children and adults the art of tae kwon do. Despite the challenges of establishing a tae kwon do business in Harlem, Master Fall never gave up, searching relentlessly until a 4,400-square-foot space opened up in the center of the neighborhood. The persistence of Master Fall's search speaks to his character as leader as well as the spirit of his instruction, which emphasizes discipline, self-confidence, and concentration. Offering more than 25 classes each week, Harlem Tae Kwon Do instructs students of all ages and ability levels in traditional sessions, which focus on self-defense and form, as well as in Olympic classes that center on sparring techniques and the proper way to match gold medals with khaki.
At Modern Martial Arts NYC, a team of instructors leads classes in kickboxing and krav maga, helping students of all ages and skill levels increase strength and burn calories. The intensive sessions teach students the formal aspects of each style and utilize strength training with cardio intervals to sculpt muscles and melt away inches. With an emphasis on individualized attention, classes focus on fitness, kickboxing techniques, and self-defense to help pupils fight off the cheeseburgers that try to invade their mouths.
"Our brain is designed to realize what we wish, without any minor errors," says Tao Yoga & Tai-Chi founder Ilchi Lee. "If you want success, it will create success. If you want happiness or health, it will create them. Anything is possible, as long as negative thoughts and emotions don't interfere." To make this challenging, yet hopeful, philosophy accessible to all, Lee combined the Eastern concept of chi energy with his own brain-management system, developing a distinctive program that unlocks inner peace and sweeps up brain clutter caused by the daily stress of always having to find Waldo. Warm-up yoga maneuvers awaken muscles before 30–40 minutes of breathing, stretching, core practice, and meditation—including a signature brain-wave vibration technique that aims to calibrate mental and physical energies. Cool-down exercises ease the body back into quotidian functionality before a 10-minute teatime invites socialization among participants while bolstering pinkie endurance.
Of the many cultural imports from Thailand, Muay Thai certainly kicks the most butt. The so-called “art of the eight limbs” uses the entire body in defense or attack – elbows, knees, feet and fists. Chok Sabai Gym in Midtown works on every part of the body as well, with weekly classes and workshops in its light-filled loft for people of all fitness levels. Each session runs students through a vigorous warm up, followed by bag work, pad work, conditioning and a cool-down stretch that leaves them soaked in sweat. For martial arts and fitness training beyond Muay Thai, the gym also provides instruction in Pilates, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Pekiti-Tirsia Kali and restorative yoga. Much of the esteem for the gym comes from the highly qualified instructors, including head trainer Natalie Fuz, one of the first women to be named an official Kru, or “teacher” in Thai.
The instructors of JKD NYC believe in uncovering the inner warrior in each of their students with training in Bruce Lee's jeet kune do brand of martial arts, self-defense, and mixed martial arts. With classes designed to empower students both physically and mentally, they cover basic- to advanced-level training in kickboxing, grappling, weapons, and combat. Self-defense classes for women are also available, as are personal-training sessions for those seeking to get in shape. Just blocks from Times Square and accessible by a multitude of transit options, JKD NYC welcomes students from all of the city's boroughs as well as New Jersey. Its methodical training programs also earned it a spot in the Top 5 MMA Schools in New York City, as deemed by CBS local news in 2012.