There are two martial arts schools just blocks away from each other in Fishtown. Since I like high intensity sports, I figured I would check them out.
A few years ago, I took kickboxing classes and loved them. They were up-beat, non-stop action, whether you were punching the air or punching a bag.
Although I felt confident that my four years of collegiate rugby and countless years of escaping wrestling moves imposed upon me by my older brothers would keep me safe in a dark alley, I decided to give these gyms a chance to enhance my skills.
The first place I tried was Philadelphia Martial Arts & Kickboxing, 262 E. Girard Ave. The second martial arts training center I checked out was Balance Studios, 1314 Frankford Ave.
Here’s a breakdown of what I experienced:
The cost may vary for children, but adult rates at Philadelphia Martial Arts & Kickboxing run around $99 per month for two classes per week, after a $100 installment fee.
At Balance Studios, it’s hard to miss the attractive ‘33 days free’ offer for new members promoted on their website. And although there is a lot of information on the classes they offer, the schedule and price list is buried, and is something that instructors discuss in person or over the phone with potential students. I’m still not sure how much these classes cost.
Instructors & Staff:
At Philadelphia Martial Arts & Kickboxing, the instructor, and also the owner, was quick to respond to my outreach, and was welcoming as I arrived at the gym.
The instructor at Balance Studios was friendly, funny and accommodating, especially to the two new students.
Both instructors were hands on, and made sure I understood the move that was being taught.
Besides the provided mats on the floor, the only real equipment needed is athletic clothing for both classes. If you do decide to become a student, you’ll need a karate uniform, called a gi for short.
So, let’s get into the classes.
I was hoping I would find some kickboxing classes at Philadelphia Martial Arts & Kickboxing, but the gym no longer has kickboxing classes, and instead focuses primarily on Tae Kwon Do. They did have one class on their website that interested me though: an adult beginner class that focused on MMA self-defense.
A kid’s class was just finishing up when I arrived at Philadelphia Martial Arts & Kickboxing. As I waited, a few people came in for the adult class, however they weren’t quite my definition of ‘adults.’ This could have been due to the impending snow storm, but I was still surprised about the age range, which I’m guessing was around 13 to 16 years old, sans myself and the instructor.
The class covered the basics: jabs, kicks, cross punches, blocks, and roundhouse kicks to name a few.
Overall, I worked up a sweat, and learned some basic moves that could be helpful in that dark alley. Based on watching the class before mine, Philadelphia Martial Arts & Kickboxing seems like a great place for kids to learn martial arts.
A few days later, I dropped into a women’s only jiu jitsu style, self-defense class at Balance Studios, and had no idea what I was walking into, but in a good way. The movements were completely different from the class at Philadelphia Martial Arts & Kickboxing.
There were about eight people in the class, which was a good size class to learn with. We paired up, and the first move taught how to break free from a person who has a knife to your neck.
Seriously. We really jumped right into it.
Within the hour class, I learned how to toss a person standing behind me over my shoulder, roll a person off of me when I was pinned on the mat, and a choke move that involves pressing an artery on both sides of a person’s neck with your thumbs while exerting pressure from your legs while they’re wrapped around that sorry person’s neck.
That last move was worth the class alone.
So, what did I learn from these two classes? That MMA is hard. And there is so much to learn. And the people who are trained in MMA are hardcore. And if I met them in a dark alley, I’d want them to be walking with me.
If you’re interested in becoming one of those hardcore people who practice MMA, the best place to start learning more is at either gym’s Facebook page or website.
Some Words of Wisdom from Don Johnson at Philadelphia Martial Arts & Kickboxing: He told the class that if you take anything away from this class about self defense, remember ‘eyes, throat, nads, and knees’ — all great places to attack if being attacked.
Contact Star at firstname.lastname@example.org