In order to receive the best martial-arts training, the founder of Long Island Asian Studies Center studied in, well, Asia. Tom Collings moved to Japan in 1976 to learn under pupils of Ueshiba, the creator of the aiki budo martial-arts method, and in 2007 he earned a sixth-degree black belt. Now Collings has become an instructor himself, teaching a wide cross-section of new martial-arts disciples, from police officers and veterans to children and people with disabilities. Collings is used to teaching self-defense: he's a 26-year vet of law enforcement as well as a certified New York State police safety instructor. Many of the other instructors have backgrounds in social work and youth psychiatry, too, making them uniquely qualified to hone mental discipline as well as physical skill.
At Long Island Asian Studies Center, Collings and his instructors teach aiki budo, which, unlike other martial arts, is noncompetitive and doesn't require a final exam of wrasslin' a bear with your bare hands. Instead, they focus on components such as multidirectional awareness, weapons training, and breathing exercises, as well as safety and respect for oneself and others. They also teach a mixture of Hatha yoga and yoga-related disciplines. In addition to martial arts, Tom Collings has spent several years in Asia studying meditation and yoga, making five trips to Japan and China. Now, he's one of New York's experts in qi gong, or Chinese yoga, which the Long Island Asian Studies Center also teaches, along with aiki taiso. Their gentle movements and relaxation exercises act as a form of preventative health care and give students the flexibility to shimmy into spandex pants.
Obnoxious Paintball offers 25,000 square feet of indoor, climate-controlled splatter heaven, with an X-Ball field (110'x125') equipped with labyrinths of inflatable rubber bunkers for strategy and shelter. Chromatic warriors brandish the exclusive, all-metal Planet Eclipse ETEK3 AM paintball gun, its compressed air tank rapidly ejecting a barrage of kaleidoscopic paint spheres that eliminate opponents from the game after transforming each one into a flesh-and-blood Jackson Pollock piece. Players can bring their own artistic armor or rent masks and chest protectors for $5 each.
The bloggers and promoters of Gotham Rocks care as much about building community as they do about throwing hard-rocking shows. Scouting talent from the five boroughs and beyond, the agency has assembled a duet of like-minded acts designed to bring a burgeoning scene together for the Gotham Rocks tour. The two-fisted tonsils of Angelina DelCarmen endow Charetta's rock angst with brassy vocal lines that could easily lead any pop-radio hit or all the town's children into the nearest Hot Topic. From selling out New York’s esteemed Irving Plaza to opening for bands such as Saliva, Charetta’s rising star burns bright as the band approaches its five-year anniversary. Feisty, fun, and heavy, Ghosts of Eden keeps the '90s alive with grungy nods to the Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam.
The PADI- and first aid-certified instructors at QC Scuba school students in the slippery ways of underwater breathing apparati with hands-on courses held seven days a week. PADI designs its Discover Scuba course to expose students to breathing underwater, which is the most elemental of scuba techniques next to looking good in a wetsuit. After a brief introduction at QC headquarters, pool dives are held outdoors in Bellmore, Huntington, or Bayshore or indoors at Queensborough Community College or the Freeport Rec Center.
Cultural Arts Playhouse has been fostering the development of up-and-coming actors for more than 15 years. At its Musical Theatre and Acting Academy, students from 1st–12th grade hone their on-stage skills by taking classes on singing, acting, and improvisation under the tutelage of an experienced teacher. Kids get to show off these skills in full theatrical productions, with main-stage shows opening up auditions to the entire community so people can see their neighbors' acting chops and dusted-off fake skulls. Cultural Arts Playhouse alumni have found success in New York and throughout the country, appearing in HBO's The Sopranos, and such Broadway productions as Les Miserables and Aladdin.
Woodmont Summer Camp is nestled in the hallowed halls of an elementary school. In the school's classrooms, gymnasium, and outdoor fields, a team runs summer-camp activities for kids aged 4 to 13. Throughout the day, kids participate in a variety of activities, including basketball, swimming, and special events. They even have a video-game area where kids who need a break from running around can run around virtually. The camp also sponsors field trips and a talent show that parents can attend to see their kids shine.