For more than 25 years, the martial-arts masters at USA Martial Arts New York have worked toward one goal: to improve their students’ mental and physical strength. They achieve this goal through an assortment of martial-arts and cardio classes designed to help students of virtually any age and skill level to master control of their bodies while gaining self-confidence and discipline. Students looking to shed calories without the monotony of the gym can heave blows into heavy bags during cardio kickboxing classes.
Rising Stars Performing Arts Company founder and artistic director Laura A. Rizzo knows firsthand the benefits of a fine-arts education. Wielding a master’s degree in educational theater and dance from New York University as well as experience on and off Broadway, she has helmed more than 130 children’s shows in which she's helped youngsters develop social skills, increase their community awareness, and spice up dinner conversation with iambic pentameter. Rizzo and her staff of instructors from diverse performance backgrounds lead students toward their artistic goals, whether they dream of dancing competitively or joining the cast of a Broadway musical.
A lifelong acolyte of martial arts, native New Yorker and master instructor Joe Maurantonio discovered Bujinkan in the early ‘80s and trained under America’s top practitioners. An official member of the American Shidoshi Kai organization of Bujinkan teachers and the international Bujinkan Dojo, Maurantonio learned from international masters, including school founder soke Masaaki Hatsumi.
Comprising nine schools of martial arts, the Bujinkan tradition traces its roots to the styles used by ninja and samurai in feudal Japan. Classes eschew competition and artificial rules for exercises that recreate realistic combat situations. Students study attacks and defenses in slow exercises, perfecting rolls and disabling moves with a focus on personal growth, effective self-defense, and preparation for battles with armed closet monsters.
Argentina–born soccer enthusiast Gustavo Szulansky opened Super Soccer Stars to provide the boroughs with a program that championed the personal development of youngsters rather than solely a skill-based focus. Since its debut in 2000, it's grown throughout the city, helping countless youngsters learn teamwork, boost confidence, and decrease arguments during home games played on the dining-room table. This rapid growth is due in part to the positive values Gustavo instilled from the first class. His coaches are carefully selected for their ability to cultivate a noncompetitive, sensitive approach to learning the game, and they dole out their knowledge in both classes and camps.
Super Soccer Star's Kick & Play program features family-friendly classes that help tots 12–24 months old develop pre-soccer skills and physical skill sets simultaneously. During classes, a team of talented and enthusiastic instructors and an athletic duo of puppet friends named Mimi and Pepe buoy budding soccer players with positive reinforcement, individual attention, and the merry clickety-clack of cleated tap dances. Designed with the help of early-childhood specialists, each age-specific class helps players build skills at their own pace with positive reinforcement, individual attention, and engaging original music.
Brazilian Jujitsu dominates mixed-martial-arts competitions and has captured the imaginations of hundreds of aspiring fighters, including Tito Hatz, the head instructor and current owner of East Coast United. To hone his skills, Tito travelled to Brazil to train under members of the Gracie family, the clan credited with originating modern Brazilian Jujitsu. As an instructor, he believes in sculpting bodies of all ages and genders into the physiques of elite athletes. Students at his gym grapple through the traditional exercises of Brazilian Jujitsu or pummel unseen opponents with the lightning foot, fist, elbow, and knee strikes of muay thai kickboxing. Those interested in professional fighting undertake training in a blend of the two arts in mixed-martial-arts classes. Certified yoga instructor Maywatte Hartz teaches relaxation and mental focus in her Vinyasa yoga classes, which focus on mastering deep breathing and flowing movements.