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 more than a dozen brick-and-mortar locations that make up Ultimate Champions Taekwondo Association share not only a style of combat, but a teaching philosophy as well. Tracing the lineage of their combative art back to Grandmaster Sang K. Oh, the instructors adhere to his teachings, exemplified by the quote, "The person who can defeat others with flashy techniques but is without love toward his fellow man will in the end defeat himself." Students use the physical empowerment of mastering jumps, kicks, and weapons to arm themselves with discipline, confidence, concentration, self-respect, and courtesy for others.
Outside of the classroom, the organization reaches out to the tri-state community with ample demonstrations of some of their most exciting techniques. Practitioners soar skyward in flying kicks or fill the air with the whirring blows of nunchakus, bos, and kamas. Fists slam through boards, balloons, and bricks to demonstrate the striking power of tae kwon do and the structural flaws in the Three Little Pigs' panic room.
• For $20, you get one stadium 2 seat in sections 2–16 (a $29.50 value, or up to a $40 value online including all ticketing fees). • For $31, you get one stadium 1 seat in sections 1–15 (a $49.50 value, or up to a $62.50 value online including all ticketing fees).
Donavon is a surfer-turned-musician whose self-titled debut was released on Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records and made the ARIA top 40 charts in 2004. In Mulcahy’s 1,400-person sound-o-sphere, his surf rock ballads, such as “It Don’t Matter” and “Move By Yourself,” will have the full force of live emotion and quality sound to superbly strum heartstrings and tickle earbones. Donavon’s Bermudan musical companion, Mishka, also has roots in the sea soil, having spent much of his childhood sailing and windsurfing before turning to reggae’s guitars and off-beat rhythms. In 2009, Mishka was named Best New Artist in the singer/songwriter category by iTunes.