Things To Do In Northampton

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Martial Arts Belts: Working Your Way Up the Rainbow

Brand-new martial arts students begin with the blank slate of white belt. Learn where they go from there with Groupon?s look at martial arts belts.

There?s an old story about the evolution of the system of colored martial-arts belts: donning fresh white belts at first, trainees would let them darken over time with sweat and dirt, until, after years of increasing mastery, they turned almost black. If it sounds like a story that's too good to believe, it almost certainly is. Although the belt system is conceivably an ancient tradition handed down from sensei to sensei, its origins can be readily traced to the early 20th century. That?s when Dr. Jigoro Kano was developing a new form of physical education for Japanese public school students: judo, a safer version of the jujitsu fighting style. Facing an influx of new students, he devised a hierarchy of colored belts to illustrate their progress at a glance rather than having to ask each one to fight him every day.

How quickly athletes move up the ladder will depend on the teacher, the dojo, and the style, in addition to their skills. They may advance by taking a formal exam with practical, oral, and written sections; they may be asked to spar with students in the next level to prove their readiness; or they may be awarded a different color belt because the old one clashes with their eyes. And in any discipline, tying on a black belt doesn?t mean you?ve made it. Instead, one might think of it as being inducted into an advanced training program. In karate, for instance, there are 10 grades of black belts, some of which require up to 10 years of study to attain.

47 Market Street
Northampton,
MA
US

The proprietor and chief guide behind Hilltown Wilderness Adventures, Marla BB, invites patrons to hitch their dreams of adventure onto the backs of her alaskan huskies for mushing, skijoring, and outdoor excursions in the Berkshires. Her hallmark attraction is mushing through both snowy hills and on dryland tracks—a unique offering for the region that has earned her attention from media outlets such as Mushing magazine and Animal Planet.

The skijoring and sled-dog school teaches novices how to captain a team of dogs either in a sled or on skis, which can give them give them a way to skip long ski-resort lift lines. Marla also leads day excursions through DAR State Forest, Chesterfield Gorge and Westfield River, and the Deerfield River Watershed, keeping bikers, hikers, kayakers, and bird watchers safe as she is a certified wilderness first responder and an expert in swift-water safety and rescue.

97 Fairgrounds Road
Cummington,
MA
US

Voted the area's best place for tapas in 2012 by readers of the Valley Advocate, Ibiza Tapas Wine Bar swells with the aroma of Spanish small plates crafted by owner Sonia Blanco's culinary team. They craft traditional dishes with ingredients sourced from local farmers when available, serving up fried spiced potatoes and spanish veal and pork meatballs alongside modern creations such as tempura zucchini served with romesco sauce. Their menu also includes paellas, fideuas, and gluten-free, Catalan-style cr?me br?l?e, which guests can wash down with beer, sangria, or a wealth of white and red wine options from the dramatically lit stone bar. Orange and burgundy walls enliven Ibiza's lounge-like dining room, adding a celebratory spark to dinners, birthday get-togethers, and peace conferences between rival roller-skating crews.

7 Strong Avenue
Northampton,
MA
US

At Bikram Yoga Northampton, commitment and focus supersede the search for absolute perfection. So long as you are doing your best, instructors Audrey Liley and Jessika Brandley ask for nothing more. As they lead their students through the 26 asanas—or postures—of Bikram yoga, they provide helpful insights regarding the significance of each. At some point, they’ll likely explain that this specific progression of postures is intended to stretch muscles and promote the flow of blood to the body’s vital organs. Held in a classroom that’s heated to 105 degrees, these yoga classes may also facilitate the breakdown of glucose, fatty acids, and accidentally swallowed ice cubes.

241 King St
Northampton,
MA
US

At each bowling center, balls hurtle down smooth, polished lanes as LCD screens keep track of scores and shimmering party lights illuminate the faces of determined bowlers. After lacing up some slide-enabling shoes and clearing the gutters of deciduous pins, bowlers set their sights on toppling 10-pin clusters. Carpets bedecked with psychedelic swirls lead to shelves stocked with neon-colored balls, which proffer their pin-busting talents to bowlers of various sizes. Fingers can warm up by mashing buttons in an arcade full of entrancing video games or bench-pressing french fries at the onsite grill and pub.

525 Pleasant Street
Northampton,
MA
US

From their kitchen stations on the second story of the Bay State Hotel, the chefs at Mulino's Restaurant plate up hearty portions of sophisticated Italian cuisine. Piled-high plates showcase tender linguine, spaghetti, and fettuccine clinging to gorgonzola cream sauce, italian sausages, veggies, and julienned strips of chicken. The aromas of wine-coated salmon and grilled beef tenderloin also fight for the attention of diners who are taking their time with their wine, served by the glass, bottle, or through a penne noodle. Desserts such as crème brûlée and tiramisu sweetly seal the meal.

41 Strong Ave
Northampton,
MA
US