Certified boxing coach Alden Washington was born into a family of boxers. His father, in between teaching boxing classes in the US Army and Navy, began coaching him in the pugilistic arts at the age of 10. Alden took to the sport, winning boxing titles in Silver and Golden Gloves competitions, all while earning his black belt in bando, Chinese kenpo, and tae kwon do. In 1980, the consummate athlete began coaching students, conducting classes in kickboxing as well as sprinting and sports conditioning.
At Washington Boxing Academy, Alden combines his extensive title-taking and teaching experience to conduct kickboxing classes for all ages. Amid the professional heavy bags and cushioned floors of his studio, the certified coach infuses kickboxing routines with rounds of creative exercises, including jumping rope, shadowboxing while holding weights, and slamming massive tires with hammers. In personal sessions, he spurs on advanced boxers as they spar in the studio's full-size boxing ring. He also provides students with fundamental self-defense tips, such as how to a catch an oncoming fist mid-punch or halt a flung pie midair.
Third-degree black belt and instructor Gary Quillen was once a regular 12-year-old boy. Today, he can leap into the air and perform a dazzling horizontal split kick. This feat requires immense athletic prowess. But that physical strength means nothing without the equally immense mental strength behind it. The importance of mind over muscle informs Gary's approach to teaching his Korean martial-arts and fitness classes. He has designed each of his classes to teach novice practitioners how to defend themselves with deft, powerful techniques, but also to develop their confidence, respect, and self-control in order to minimize the chance they'll ever need to.
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.
Located in Chinatown, Philadelphia Wing Chun Kung Fu schools students in wing chun—a 300-year-old martial-arts system. Students learn five ways to defeat an enemy: striking, kicking, joint locking, throwing, and through the use of weapons. Unlike other martial-arts forms, wing chun emphasizes blocking and attacking all in the same movement. It's a unique style of self-defense, and one that has been mastered and shared by the staff at Philadelphia Wing Chun Kung Fu since 2007.
At Sword Martial Arts, Grand Master Jin K. Seong oversees devotees training in the ancient martial art of kendo, or kumdo, a form of sword fighting nearly 2,000 years old. A member of the International Kendo Federation with internationally recognized rankings, Sword Martial Arts ensures student safety by wrapping combatants in protective gear before they spar to hone self-discipline, develop confidence, and learn how to defeat the black knight's ghost in their attic. Though it originated as a form of combat, kendo's modern form focuses on respect for others and protection of the weak. Mook-sang meditation sessions bookend each lesson, focusing minds on the kendo philosophy and bringing pupils closer to the purity of heart most often found in baby unicorns. The academy’s schedule of classes invites neophytes and younger students to drill in foundational techniques, whereas students 15 and older grip the hilt of bamboo or metal swords under the watchful guidance of expert instructors.
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