Highlights of Rodrigo Clark's two-decade Brazilian jiu-jitsu career include training with Master Carlos Gracie, Jr., reaching 2nd-degree black belt status, and medaling at the World Nogi Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championship seven times. At Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu Academy Santa Barbara, Clark shares his vast knowledge of the Gracie style of self-defense during programs for all ages and skill levels. His and his team's teachings don't just show students how to defend themselves, though. They can also boost self-esteem, burn calories, reduce stress, and improve one's ability to dice vegetables with their bare hand.
Instructors at Paragon Jiu Jitsu & Kickboxing channel personal sparring experience into Brazilian jiujitsu, kickboxing, and boxing classes. Jiujitsu classes ease exercisers into fitness and the ability to physically overpower unmanned fire-hydrant hoses with beginner, intermediate, and advanced tiers of Greco-Roman wrestling, judo, and submission wrestling maneuvers. Fists slam heavy bags and feet pummel targets in kickboxing, which fuses Western-style boxing and muay thai kickboxing for a blood-pumping workout that, when combined with jiujitsu, makes for an MMA-medal-winning brew. Tiny tendons spring into action in kids' classes and MMA summer camps, arming tykes with self-confidence and the ability to quickly take down invisible frenemies.
It's safe to say that Sasaki Kenpo Karate's staff of world- and national-champion black belts knows what its doing when it comes to martial arts. The instructors—many of whom have trained national and world champions themselves—pass along their knowledge to kids, teens, and adults during martial-arts classes that teach basic skills alongside discipline and sportsmanship. Some of the instructors even began as Sasaki Kenpo students themselves.
Along with martial-arts classes, instructors lead Kamikaze Conditioning classes and personal-training sessions, both of which focus on toning bodies and blasting calories.
Tom Bloom's distinguished martial-arts career began more than 30 years ago when he was a student at Chuck Norris Karate School. Similar to the school's namesake, Bloom would spend the next three decades fostering the sport of martial arts. He co-captained the USA Karate team from 1984–88; received black belts in tae kwon do, hapkido, shippalgi, and kung fu; and helped train more than 300 students and 1 ostrich to black-belt-level status. Today, Bloom and his staff continue carrying the torch by leading martial-arts and fitness classes for students of all ages.
Mestre Mariano Silva, a dancer and student of the Brazilian martial art capoeira, has always believed that "if you can walk, then you can dance." This positivity permeates everything he does, from his work with underprivileged youth to his time professionally dancing. It was this contagious optimism that caught the attention of master Amen Santo in Brazil, who invited him to tour globally with the renowned Ballet Folclorico do Brasil. As it turned out, Mariano was a huge hit, playing to sold-out crowds all over the world. His skill and popularity on the stage led Amen to convince him to relocate to Southern California and bring his passion for Afro-Brazilian dance to the States. Today, Mariano owns Capoeira Batuque Santa Barbara along with the Brazilian Cultural Arts Center of Santa Barbara, sharing his talents and affirmative worldview with adults and children through a slew of classes and community-outreach programs.
Each of mestre Mariano's fast-paced classes introduces pupils to the rhythmic techniques and cultural significance of traditional Afro-Brazilian dance forms. Capoeira—considered Brazil's second national sport—fuses martial-arts techniques with the rhythmic and collaborative elements of dance. He teaches stylistic combat maneuvers, which weave in aerial acrobatics and various instruments. During his Afro-Brazilian dance class, he'll calibrate students' hips to swivel to movements that fuse traditional African dance with Brazilian moves, and in his Samba classes, he introduces students to the history, culture, and traditions inextricably linked to each movement. He also lets dancers try their hand or fourth toe at banging timbaus, repiniques, and other Brazilian drums in the Brazilian batucada drumming course.
A typical workout at SB Krav Maga can look intimidating at first––chokeholds, plastic training handguns, lightning-fast kicks in the gut––but after closer examination, the images lose their menace. Krav maga, a fighting technique designed by the Israeli army to transform civilians into soldiers as quickly and effectively as possible, focuses on learning self-defense against armed and unarmed assailants. Students jump right into learning the basics, working in small groups to refine techniques such as escaping from chokeholds, fending off multiple attackers, and women's self-defense techniques. High-intensity cardio drills are sprinkled throughout the classes that focus mostly on performing drills with a partner decked in pads.