Since its founding by some of the most distinguished jujitsu experts in the past 50 years, the nonprofit organization USA Jiu Jitsu has helped establish jujitsu as a professional sport, teaching the ancient practice to students across the country. At its Springfield location, students of all ages build strength and endurance as they tumble and kick during Brazilian jujitsu, combat fitness, and kickboxing classes.
Positivity. Simple as it sounds, it's a central pillar of the philosophy behind Life Champ Martial Arts. At each of the school's five locations, the warm, supportive atmosphere starts with the instructors. Sure, they pass along years of martial arts wisdom, but they also strive to help students?younger ones, especially?realize that having fun doesn't necessarily mean sitting in front of a TV, or arguing the legitimacy of the moon landing with an imaginary friend. Through programs for kids, teens, and even entire families, Life Champ's instructors lead students along a path that builds self-confidence and improves self-defense techniques. Instructors build on these same skills in extracurricular offerings, which include after-school programs, birthday parties, and week-long summer camps.
Karate master Kancho Ninomiya adapted the classic techniques of his favorite fighting style to the needs of modern self-defense, creating the style known as Enshin Karate. The fast-paced style emphasizes constant movement, a blend of kicks and grappling take-downs, and techniques for facing multiple opponents at once. The practical nature of the street-savvy style appealed to a young Nima Mazhari, who discovered a dojo on his way home from school one day.
Mazhari joined the school hoping to learn to fight, but instead discovered the value of a determined work ethic. The lessons he learned in that dojo inspired him to excel in school, pass his college-entrance exams, and pursue his degree. He then decided to share the lessons he had learned with the world. He founded Enshin Karate to not only teach kids and adults his fighting techniques, but to help them discover how to be the best versions of themselves without relying on personality upgrades downloaded online.
LA Boxing’s fight-centric gyms ditch the polished look of wood-floored workout studios for gritty, competitive spaces filled with 150-pound punching bags and intense workouts. Like a baker molding gingerbread men, LA Boxing sculpts six-packs with boxing, kickboxing, and mixed-martial-arts classes. Although instructors and students agree that the gym’s atmosphere may enkindle intimidation in first-time attendees, most experience boosted self-confidence after conquering their first class. Private training sessions further stoke courage with workouts that leave patrons with the exhilaration of having survived 12 rounds in the ring or five minutes in a high-school lunchroom.
At Potomac Kempo, professional instructors focus on fitness and exercise while teaching self-defense. They help their students build strength, balance, speed, endurance, and coordination, as a way to liven up repetitive fitness routines or add to non-existent ones. Perhaps more importantly, they incorporate the key elements of martial arts—allowing each of their students to reduce stress, increase energy, improve focus, and gain self-discipline.
Suldbayar “Sugi” Damdin, a judo instructor at Northern Virginia Mixed Martial Arts & Fitness, represented Mongolia when he competed in judo for the 2004 Olympics. His colleague, boxing and CrossFit instructor Derek Sierra, was once a Master Fitness Trainer for the US Army and has amassed more than two decades of boxing experience. Résumés like these are common at the martial-arts and self-defense oriented fitness studio, where every instructor is either a current or former competitive athlete. Whether they're teaching muay thai kickboxing, boxing, or mixed martial arts, the veteran instructors ensure that their charges’ self-confidence rises along with their stamina, flexibility, and frequency of dreams about punching bags.