Kempo’s movement patterns may look beautiful—fluid, swooping kicks, graceful evasions, smooth takedowns—but underneath the beauty lies a tradition nearly 2,000 years old. Since 1968, the instructors at United Studios of Self Defense have armed students with these techniques, leading classes where participants of all ages and skill levels soak up fighting skill while galvanizing self-confidence.
But before they can share their tactics and Mortal Kombat cheat codes, the instructors themselves must be trained. Each instructor who cinches the black belt around their waist has graduated with honors from the Studio’s own rigorous training academy. The training doesn’t stop there; every week they meet with the founder himself, 10th-degree black belt Charles Mattera, who refines their strategies and instills them with advanced techniques.
At the Yoga Factory, anti-gravity yoga reigns. Practitioners safely settle into silks suspended from the ceiling, then twist and spin through a series of asanas. Besides strengthening core muscles, the aerial practice can ease joint pain, reduce backaches, increase flexibility, and help students prepare for upcoming auditions to be Tinker Bell's stunt double.
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Navy SEAL veteran and MMA coach Brian Sargent had a vision of a cutting-edge mixed-martial-arts facility. He knew what equipment was needed, but it was not until 2007—when he teamed with Joe Mannino, a 30-year owner and operator of a health club—that the nitty-gritty details fell into place. With Mannino’s newly envisioned facility and Sargent’s training know-how, the two built Victory MMA and Fitness, bringing on a staff of top-notch trainers to teach a burgeoning clientele of professional MMA fighters.
The sounds of pumping hearts and fists swooshing through the air that Brian and Joe love to hear can be sensed between the glass walls and doors that divide the 22,000-square-foot facility into eight training areas, and there’s room left over for a retail shop and ringside café. A 20-foot mixed-martial-arts cage and 7,000 square feet of mats host aspiring pugilists as they train their wrists and fists among a forest of hanging punching bags, while students in Jiu Jitsu and MMA classes learn the practical art of self defense. The nearby cardio and weightlifting areas are the metaphorical psychologist’s couch upon which personal trainers condition their clients, and a cordoned-off yoga studio breaks the black-and-red patterning of the gym with bright white walls and a pale hardwood floor.
The martial arts and fitness gurus at Eagle Martial Arts aim to strengthen bodies while arming them with practical self-defense skills. The instructors combine elements from tae kwon do with mixed martial arts and kickboxing to teach students of all ages and skill levels the strikes and floor maneuvers necessary to outwit opponents in tournaments and on the street.
Jiai Aikido Martial Arts & San Diego Systema offers martial arts training for all levels and ages. Head Instructors Steven Katz Sensei and Jeff Sodeman Sensei specialize in Aikido, a style of Japanese martial arts that focuses on defense rather than aggression. The martial arts school also hosts a Certified Russian Martial Art Instructor for Systema that compliments aikido training.
Fourth-degree master instructor Sal Convento passes along his 28 years of martial arts experience to a new generation of fighters. The staff teaches students ages one and up everything form basic coordination and discipline to advanced self defense techniques both unarmed and with traditional weapons.