Grandmaster Taek Sung Cho has accrued more than 40 years of martial-arts experience and a host of titles on his resumé, including coach for the International Junior Taekwondo Championships and the U.S. Junior Olympic Taekwondo Team. However, he derives the most reward from his role as teacher, a position he has coveted since establishing Master Cho's Talium in 1991. Working with expert instructors, he imparts the value of community and inner balance through the lens of tae kwon do technique.
Master Cho's lessons amplify confidence as well as coordination in young children, teens, and adults. Students can practice with others in their age group or alongside their families, depending on whether their school bus or their house transforms into a giant fighting robot. Kardio Kickboxing workouts toast calories with rapid jabs, and the staff emphasize the social aspect of self-defense training by hosting summer camps and birthday parties.
With MMA expertise gained from training under the USA Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling coach and years of professional fighting experience, Hani Darwish ushers in new generations of fighters in his all-ages gym. In the gym’s MMA ring and on the studio floor, Hani and his team of trainers oversee men’s, women’s and children’s classes, offering a range of intensity from fight prep to general fitness.
Aikido is the "loving protection of all beings," in the words of Morihei Ueshiba, who created the martial-arts style. Although it sometimes incorporates wooden weapons, at its heart, aikido seeks to act as a replacement for violence. Greg O'Connor, founder and chief instructor at Aikido Centers of New Jersey, brings Ueshiba's tenets to his students, who have included children and seniors, as well as members of the New Jersey State Police, the Department of Homeland Security, and the US Secret Service. O'Connor and more than 40 other instructors teach students self-defense tactics that redirect attacks, as well as more advanced methods that include wooden sword and staff training and aikido's dramatic falls and rolls.
Realistic conditions. Realistic goals. These two statements bookend Mayer's Karate & Fitness's principles. The instructors teach skills such as self-defense, jujitsu, and judo as they would be used and needed in the real world, with nary a crouching tiger nor a hidden dragon in sight. Both adults and kids can take karate classes, which build self-esteem as well as muscle; there are also sessions for kids with special needs that emphasize coordination and social skills as much as physical activity. Fitness options include Latin dance–inspired Zumba classes and personal training, in which American Council on Exercise–certified coaches help clients make and meet goals.
A US Marine, two-time Iraq veteran, and soon-to-be third-degree black belt, Johnny Guerrero is like a Swiss army knife of self-defense techniques. He earned black belts in Brazilian jujitsu and ninjutsu—the traditional fighting form of Japanese assassins—and has studied styles ranging from judo to Greco Roman wrestling. He draws on his encyclopedic knowledge of self-defense along with his first-hand experience of combat to aid students on their journey to becoming warriors—the very reason he started Guerrero Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
The school’s curriculum is designed to teach students to fight with speed, skill, and accuracy. Instructors tailor Brazilian jujitsu and mixed-martial-arts lessons based on level expertise, allowing beginners to learn from experts and experts to challenge themselves to intense competition. Children's classes cater to kids with special needs and focus on antibullying instruction to keep kids safe at school. Each teacher receives training in both child and adult psychology, which aids them in chopping through even the thickest of mental blocks.
A member of the Martial Arts Hall of Fame since 1993 and a 25-year veteran in the field, Master Stevens of Bill Stevens Karate has carved out a studio where students of all ages can learn from his experiences and accomplishments. Stevens has not only earned first-degree black belt status in Gracie jiu-jitsu and sixth-dan blackbelt in Korean karate, he was also tapped by the Bergen County Police to teach defensive tactics to personnel. Here at Bill Stevens Karate, he offers classes in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and kickboxing for men, women, and kids of all ages. During the black belt success system, which is targeted specifically at kids, children learn the finer points of self-defense while getting in shape and exercising their natural desire to break things in half.