In his tae kwon do classes, former world welterweight kickboxing champion Eric Melton covers techniques from basic stances and blocks to black-belt sparring. In another room, members of the competitive gymnastics team hone their flips and flexibility in year-round preparation for bouts against rival gyms. The competitive streak continues on in the cheerleading team, with whom decorated cheer directors harness national-title experience to perfect the squad's choreography and teamwork.
Along with classes with a competitive bent, the Mpact staff hosts sessions for kids who just want to try out new activities and have fun such a Nerf Wars where kids engage in friendly nerf football battles or open gym sessions. A parent-and-child gymnastics class introduces youngsters to obstacle courses and trampolines, and extreme tumbling's foam pits and padded mats train students of all skill levels to jump and flip more fearlessly than a blindfolded dolphin in a shark tank. For performing pupils, Mpact also teaches aerial-acrobatics classes and Demo Team programs, where kids learn how to deftly handle martial-arts weapons, including nunchaku and staffs.
Master Carlos Gracie Jr. founded the Gracie Barra Association—which now encompasses more than 300 Brazilian jujitsu schools—to aid students in developing their understanding of the art beyond simple competition. His schools not only teach combative techniques but a four-pillared philosophy that instructors and students embrace: brotherhood, cooperation, discipline, and respect.
The instructors work with other trainers to expand the class repertoire beyond basic jujitsu, offering women's self-defense, kid's classes, and a black-belt leadership program. Each teacher brings a long history of competitive expertise in the subject they teach and bears a high-ranking belt in the art of jujitsu; for example, head instructor Marcio Feitosa holds a third-degree black belt. The facility consists of a series of open training areas, which rely upon big floor-to-ceiling windows and glow-in-the-dark teachers for light.
Eighth-degree black belt Master S.H. Koh began practicing taekwondo in 1967 in South Korea. He's still going strong at Yong In Martial Arts Academy, where he and his staff teach the classic Korean martial art to kids as young as 3. Their training programs also include other Korean martial arts such as hapkido and kumdo, as well as muscle-toning yoga and kickboxing.
Brentwood Brazilian Jiu-jitsu's team of seasoned martial artists works to keep their classes welcoming yet intense. Though their teaching style fosters a supportive environment, they challenge students at every turn to master the grappling techniques of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Aside from the adult classes, the studio offers kids' sessions that demonstrate how to stop bullying with practical self-defense skills.
At Taekwondo International USA, certified master instructor and seventh-degree black belt, Joseph Veach, leads tae kwon do classes for kids and adults. Through the martial art's methods, he guides his students to stronger bodies, minds, and spirits. Fostering a family-centric facility he even offers classes where parents and kids can kick, punch, and learn together.