Meg Nakamura of the World Seido Karate Organization. By Stefan Radke.
Looking for places to learn or practice martial arts in Westchester County? Here you can find out everything you need to know about the various disciplines.
Whether you want to brush up on a bit of self-defense, make new friends, build confidence, or get in shape, martial arts offers numerous opportunities to improve both body and mind. With disciplines ranging from introspective ways to find inner peace to full contact sparring and MMA, we’ve rounded up some of the county’s best martial arts locations, along with pro tips on which discipline might be right for you.
To get to know
Do you want to get into martial arts but don’t know exactly where to start? While you can find welcoming and receptive classes in this feature at virtually all gyms and dojos, karate, taekwondo, and judo are certainly time-tested gateways to the martial arts.
karate, meaning “the hand,” is a martial art based on punching. That World Seido Karate Organization (seido.com/westchester-dojo), a respected group from Elmsford, teach traditional Japanese karate in programs for adults and children. It practices a form called karate you, meaning “sincere path”, a style developed by the dojo’s grandmaster, Kaicho Tadashi Nakamura. The discipline emphasizes respect, hard work and dedication. In addition, the World Seido Karate Organization teaches meditation, movement zen, yoga and weapon training to black belts.
The Yonkers location of Tiger Schulmann’s martial arts (tsk.com/locations/ny/yonkers) is another top spot for newbies. The local outpost of the respected chain offers children’s karate for preschoolers through 18-year-olds, as well as welcoming adult kickboxing classes where mom and dad can get theirs Kiai on.
Taekwondo focuses primarily on kicking and is an ideal discipline for greenhorns. Yorktown Heights WS Jeung Taekwondo (wsjtkd.com) is an excellent place to start your journey, with more than 22 years of teaching this Korean style. It offers both advanced and beginner courses for adults, children’s courses and “Super Tiger” courses (for children aged 5 and 6). The school also offers a flexible lesson plan and works hard to develop students’ focus and discipline.
In the meantime, Ahn’s Taekwondo (ahnstkdkisco.com), located in Mount Kisco, offers a smorgasbord of options including martial arts for kids and teens, as well as a popular summer camp and even birthday parties for the little ones. Ahn’s also offers adult taekwondo classes, a junior executive program, and an after-school program.
Known as “the gentle way,” judo is a system of unarmed combat that focuses on throws. White Plains Total Form Fitness Judo & Wrestling (tffjw.com) is a one-stop shop for all your roll-based pedagogy. It offers a high-level judo development program for children aged 4 to 7, where they learn simple techniques. a class for 8-13 year olds teaching the basics of judo; and a High School+ class teaching either judo techniques or advanced wrestling, all on state-of-the-art Fuji mats.
Those looking to protect themselves in a high-risk world will learn a lot from these explosive techniques. While all of these programs welcome students of all skill levels, each of the disciplines listed below specializes in practical, no-nonsense self-defense.
Krav Maga is a powerful self-defense and combat system developed by the Israeli military and means business. If you would like to learn how to use this potentially life-saving technique, you can do so at Krav Maga by Steve’s son (safeandfit.com) in Scarsdale, who has taught it for more than three decades. It offers a popular self-defense class, as well as kickboxing fitness, martial arts for kids, Krav Maga for teens, tai chi health and wellness, and private classes.
Located in New Rochelle, Westchester Krav Maga (westchesterkravmaga.com) is another excellent place to learn how to manage yourself in a dangerous situation and offers both Karate and Krav Maga classes for both children and adults. As a certified member of the Krav Maga Federation, WKM even offers outdoor classes for those who want to learn some self-defense while staying as safe from COVID as possible.
MMA, or mixed martial arts, is a full-contact martial art that combines multiple combat disciplines from around the world and is an effective form of self-defense.
animals MMA (mmayonkers.com) is one of Westchester’s premier mixed martial arts learning venues for adults and children, as well as a women’s fitness program that incorporates elements of MMA. This Yonkers gym also offers a combat team for those looking to compete, as well as a Pistol Safety & Knowledge course.
A household name among MMA enthusiasts, UFC gym in White Plains (ufcgym.com/locations/white-plains) is a wonderland of self-defense and fitness know-how. It offers MMA-inspired classes that help students build strength and conditioning while learning proper technique, as well as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, youth programs, and group fitness classes. UFC students can also take part in virtual workouts or receive individual coaching from personal trainers.
This melee combat system began in Japan and has expanded to include defensive tactics such as disarming attackers. With regional roots and numerous regional locations, the respected Renzo Gracie Academy Westchester (renzogracieacademy.com/academies/renzo-gracie-westchester) can introduce anyone to the world of martial arts. In addition to a convenient online academy, Renzo Gracie offers plenty of personal action, such as Brazilian Jujitsu (a variant based on grapples and ground fighting), Muay Thai, KidJitsu, and a class focused on submission grappling.
Next the Jiu-Jitsu grinder (thejiujitsumill.com) in Port Chester is an ideal place to get serious about self-defense. They offer adult classes in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Submission Grappling, Wrestling and MMA, with experience levels ranging from all ability to advanced. And for little grandmasters in training, they also have a Jiu Jitsu Mill Kids’ Program. Legends martial arts (legendsfightclub.com) at Briarcliff Manor is another excellent place to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Kickboxing, MMA, Kid MMA and Grappling.
Sometimes referred to as Thai boxing, Muay Thai is a combat and contact sport that focuses on tough, standing punches and clutches. Along with Renzo Gracie (mentioned in the previous Jiujitsu section), White Plains is an amazing choice to enter the Regime. East Coast Jiu-Jitsu & Muay Thai (ecubjj.com). This upscale spot offers top-notch muay thai lessons, as well as grappling, jiu-jitsu, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu classes for kids. They also offer some cute touches like Nitro Cold Brew and laundry service.
If you want to get in shape in a fun and functional way, these martial arts might be for you. Whether you’re looking to find some inner peace, develop a calming routine, work up a serious sweat, or just want to tone your muscles, try one of these beneficial styles.
Tai Chi, also known as shadow boxing, is a Chinese martial art that uses slow, deliberate movements to promote meditation, self-defense, and well-being. With locations in White Plains and Scarsdale, body & brain (bodynbrain.com/locations/new-york) is the perfect place to calm down and get fit. Here, students can find tai chi and qigong classes, as well as classes in breathwork, meditation, and yoga. White Plains Westchester Tai Chi Center (westchestertaichicenter.com) is also an excellent place to learn this ancient practice, offering both in-person and online classes, including Traditional Tai Chi, Advanced Training, Balance Tai Chi, Online Tai Chi, and Private Lessons.
Kickboxing is a popular martial art for both training and self-defense, where kicking and punching are allowed and are usually performed in some kind of ring. UMAC Briarclifflocated in Briarcliff Manor (umacnation.com/school/briarcliff-manor), prides itself on its fitness kickboxing classes aimed at building endurance, strength and confidence. With a location in Ardsley, UMAC also offers adult and youth martial arts, children’s martial arts, after-school programs, family programs and a youth empowerment system. They also host a summer camp and birthday parties.
With programs that target the entire body, Bedford Hills’ Marti martial arts (martikarate.com) also offers world-class fitness kickboxing classes to help students achieve their goals and reduce stress. Marti also offers martial arts for teens, adults and children aimed at helping young people protect themselves, get fit and build camaraderie.
A calming discipline, Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art that aims to defend oneself while protecting the attacker from injury. Referring to the practice as “the martial art of peace,” Still think of Aikido Westchester (scarsdaleaikido.com) offers classes in Aikido for adults, Aikido for children, Tai Chi and Yoga. Aikido classes are aimed at preventing injury, improving health, self-defense, and building relationships. Are you looking for more? The Scarsdale Gym also offers women’s self-defense classes, special needs services, massage and meditation.
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