Grandmaster Dennis Tosten founded the first Amerikick in 1967 and has since taught several champion fighters, police officers, and everyday students karate and self-defense. Today, the lauded chain teaches fitness classes inspired by martial arts, including cardio kickboxing in six states. Each location upholds a curriculum that blends Chinese and Japanese martial-arts styles—including kenpo and tae kwon do—with modern self-defense strategies, further updating traditional practices by eschewing uniforms and belts for casual workout gear. Having attained certification in teaching kickboxing from the National Association of Professional Martial Artists, Amerikick's seasoned instructors also each possess black belts in karate, a rank as difficult to attain as the snake charmer's belt of live cobras.
Chuck Masny describes himself as an “eternal student of the martial arts,” always learning more about his chosen disciplines despite the black belts in Goshin jiujitsu and American karate that already encircle his waist. Chuck brings his insatiable appetite for refinement to his classes, encouraging his students to ask why a technique is performed a certain way or to adjust motions to suit their unique physiques. This allows students to determine what mix of fitness exercise and self-defense training best suits their needs.
Chuck’s youth programs focus on developing not only the physical fitness skills that will grow into combat ability, but also the mental skills important to a child’s scholastic success. Kids practice listening and self-discipline and engage in a “bully-proofing” program in which they learn how to deflect insults by mentally transforming their bodies into rubber. Adult classes swing the focus to the practical underpinnings of self-defense, studying why and how certain moves and combinations work to arm students against real-world violence. Chuck also schedules cardio-enriched kickboxing classes, which incinerate calories in a furnace powered by flying fists and feet.
At Ballistic Fighting Methods, parents and teachers train alongside law-enforcement agents as they learn Bruce Lee’s personal martial-arts system, jeet kune do. Adults learn practical, real-world self-defense skills, and antibullying seminars teach conflict resolution and martial arts to children. Instructors build cardio-kickboxing classes around real boxing and kickboxing techniques, so students learn how to harness a fierce right cross while simultaneously sculpting and shaping a stronger body.
Spawned by gung mao kung fu, a form of martial arts developed in 19th-century Okinawa, Gangi kung fu arose in 1985 thanks to Master Soshihan Joe Gangi. He held a black belt in gung mao kung fu, goju karate, jujitsu, and many other forms of martial arts. So he combined ancient and modern components of MMA to create something new: Gangi kung fu. The method married yoga-inspired conditioning moves and meditation with sparring. At Gangi Martial Arts & Fitness, Master Gangi and his assistant teachers continue to promote the unique practice through their martial-arts classes.
A slideshow of Midwest Training Center's star fighters depicts them in various states of victory: sporting championship belts, hands raised by crowning referee, or slamming an opponent into the ground. Perhaps they owe their athletic prowess to the 3,000 square feet of space that the training center offers, complete with two fighting cages and one ring. That's where its instructors drill battling skills into fighters and teach MMA classes such as muay thai and Brazilian jujitsu.
At FLO CrossFit, multiple black-belt-holding and championship-winning instructors pour more than 100 combined years of experience into molding students of all skill levels into accomplished martial artists. Boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, krav maga, mixed martial arts, and muay thai kickboxing are just a few of the classes on offer; FLO encourages students to combine aspects of multiple styles to create a formidably balanced skill set. Memberships grant users unlimited access to the gym and group classes, and private lesson and personal training packages customize regimens with one-on-one attention.