Tom Bacha’s fist and feet are like a force field made of whip-quick cobras. The martial artist holds a second-degree black belt in tae kwon do, an Expert Series instructor certification from Krav Maga Worldwide, and a Brazilian jujitsu teaching certification from Best Way Jiu-Jitsu. At Connecticut Krav Maga, he and five other certified instructors draw on their kick-punching prowess to pass on Imi Lichtenfeld’s legendary martial art, krav maga, used by the Israeli Defense Force and the US Marines. Designed around the instinctual ways people defend themselves, the method gets quick-learned into students’ muscle memory, teaching students to fend off surprise attacks or disarm opponents carrying knives, guns, or prosthetic limbs.
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Perhaps as a tribute to the timeless nature of the sword, the Worcester Fencing Club began as a small class held at the Higgins Armory Museum, a collection of arms and armor from medieval Europe and beyond. There, Doug Jacobs—a United States Fencing Association–certified instructor—began imparting his knowledge to a handful of students, giving them a small taste of the age-old sport that, over the years, had become unfairly associated with bullies popping balloons in the streets. Still, many of his students wished to extend their training, and—upon a suggestion of the mother of some of his students—Doug expanded his academy in 1998, forming the Worcester Fencing Club. Today, the school continues to draw fresh blood, introducing students of all ages and experience levels to modern- and Olympic-style fencing in classes still often taught by Doug himself.
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Candlewood Fencing Center's 6,000-square-foot facility gives fledgling fencers and seasoned pros the tools they need to develop their skill with sabers, foils, and épées. Seventeen lunge workout stations allow students to hone attacks, and three electronic speed stations train reflexes to parry an incoming thrust or jury summons. The center is equipped with solid wood floors that are built with bounce, making lessons and sparring practice easy on students' joints.