A member of the Martial Arts Hall of Fame since 1993 and a 25-year veteran in the field, Master Stevens of Bill Stevens Karate has carved out a studio where students of all ages can learn from his experiences and accomplishments. Stevens has not only earned first-degree black belt status in Gracie jiu-jitsu and sixth-dan blackbelt in Korean karate, he was also tapped by the Bergen County Police to teach defensive tactics to personnel. Here at Bill Stevens Karate, he offers classes in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and kickboxing for men, women, and kids of all ages. During the black belt success system, which is targeted specifically at kids, children learn the finer points of self-defense while getting in shape and exercising their natural desire to break things in half.
Grandmaster Taek Sung Cho has accrued more than 40 years of martial-arts experience and a host of titles on his resumé, including coach for the International Junior Taekwondo Championships and the U.S. Junior Olympic Taekwondo Team. However, he derives the most reward from his role as teacher, a position he has coveted since establishing Master Cho's Talium in 1991. Working with expert instructors, he imparts the value of community and inner balance through the lens of tae kwon do technique.
Master Cho's lessons amplify confidence as well as coordination in young children, teens, and adults. Students can practice with others in their age group or alongside their families, depending on whether their school bus or their house transforms into a giant fighting robot. Kardio Kickboxing workouts toast calories with rapid jabs, and the staff emphasize the social aspect of self-defense training by hosting summer camps and birthday parties.
Realistic conditions. Realistic goals. These two statements bookend Mayer's Karate & Fitness's principles. The instructors teach skills such as self-defense, jujitsu, and judo as they would be used and needed in the real world, with nary a crouching tiger nor a hidden dragon in sight. Both adults and kids can take karate classes, which build self-esteem as well as muscle; there are also sessions for kids with special needs that emphasize coordination and social skills as much as physical activity. Fitness options include Latin dance–inspired Zumba classes and personal training, in which American Council on Exercise–certified coaches help clients make and meet goals.
Being raised in the Burmese fighting styles by his grandfather and working as a professional fighter between the ages of 16–26, Phil Dunlap is fluent in the language of foot and fist. A time would come, however, that would physically challenge him more than any of the 114 professional fights he's participated in. Prior to his 26th birthday, he broke his neck in a car accident, forcing him to step out of the ring for what medical professionals thought would be forever. This didn’t sit well with Dunlap, who had been used to pushing himself since he was a child. On a mission to prove his doctors wrong, he worked long and hard enough to eventually fight again at the age of 36 and open his very own studio, Advanced Fighting Systems.
Today, he and his team lead classes, including Burmese boxing and mixed martial arts, which focus on self-defense and total-body fitness. They put students through standup striking drills and demonstrate how to wrap legs and arms around opponents to develop useful grappling skills for winning a match in the ring or convincing your boss to give you a raise. While the instructors help fighters train for competitive matches, they don't pressure anyone to go in that direction, creating an environment where everyone can feel free to achieve their own goals.
Winner of more than 100 mixed-martial-arts competitions, Tiger Schulmann shares his pride and love for fighting and self-defense with both adults and children in gyms across five states. From first-time grapplers to expert muay thai fighters, students of all fitness and experience levels are welcome to dive into a class at Schulmann’s. At more than 47 locations, adults can take classes in kickboxing, MMA, and jujitsu—the last of which instills students with the skill and confidence to take down opponents of any size, strength, or telekinetic ability. Kids, meanwhile, can learn martial arts for fun, or gain useful experience in bully prevention; the kids’ classes help victims immediately identify and safely diffuse situations when pitted against an aggressor.
Aikido is the "loving protection of all beings," in the words of Morihei Ueshiba, who created the martial-arts style. Although it sometimes incorporates wooden weapons, at its heart, aikido seeks to act as a replacement for violence. Greg O'Connor, founder and chief instructor at Aikido Centers of New Jersey, brings Ueshiba's tenets to his students, who have included children and seniors, as well as members of the New Jersey State Police, the Department of Homeland Security, and the US Secret Service. O'Connor and more than 40 other instructors teach students self-defense tactics that redirect attacks, as well as more advanced methods that include wooden sword and staff training and aikido's dramatic falls and rolls.