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.
Devised more than 50 years ago for the purposes of the Israeli Defense Forces, krav maga is an all-ages martial art that emphasizes adaptive techniques over raw strength. Head instructor Tony Racciatti has more than 15 years experience practicing the art, and came to krav maga from a background in shotokan karate and street fighting. Unlike other fighting styles that focus on strict etiquette, krav maga is meant to function in unpredictable, potentially dangerous situations.
CKO Kickboxing founder Joseph Andreula's knowledge of exercise goes beyond creating effective workouts. It also helps guide the Fitness Standards Council, a nonprofit advisory panel of doctors and certified personal trainers, and provides the basis for the articles he’s published in Exercise for Men, Men's Health, and _Men's Fitness Magazine. But his true passion lies in the innovative fitness classes he created at CKO Kickboxing gyms. Since 1997, these gyms have housed Andreula’s exercise classes, which use basic kickboxing techniques to lead students toward powerful strength and greater endurance. In contrast to other kickboxing routines that have participants kick the air or invisible schoolyard bullies, students in CKO Kickboxing sessions strike hanging heavy bags to help them tone more muscle and burn up to 1,200 calories in a single class.
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.
In its more than two decades of existence, East Coast Martial Arts has produced more than 100 black belts in tae kwon do, including one 4th-dan black belt master. This should come as no surprise, given its leader Master Portante's status as a 6th-dan black belt. To achieve this, the school starts young, training children from age 4 through adulthood in age-appropriate classes that build strength and confidence using the ancient Korean art of tae kwon do, as well as the hands-on fighting style of hapkido.