Tackling your Tao

If your idea of martial arts consists only of Mr. Miyagi's "Wax on, wax off" technique and Daniel-san's crane kick, it's time to take another look. Charlotte's martial arts scene has never been more vibrant than it is today. With respected masters teaching unique fighting styles from across the globe, there truly is something for everyone.

If you want to find inner harmony and project a calm, cool demeanor like Barack Obama, try … tai chi

Tai Chi
Praised for its overall health benefits, tai chi is practiced throughout the world. This form of moving meditation appeals to adults of all ages, because these days most of us are more likely to face a bout of stress over our 401(k) accounts than hand-to-hand combat with local ruffians.

Try it:
The Peaceful Dragon
12610 Steele Creek Rd.

If you want to get ripped like Hugh Jackman in Wolverine, try … muay thai

Muay Thai
Muay thai is known as "the art of eight limbs," and those limbs include the hands, shins, elbows, and knees. With the hips and core playing a huge role in providing the power for the devastating kicks, your whole body is guaranteed a lactic acid trip that you might only appreciate after class.

Try it:
Black Belt USA
11915-A N. Tryon St.

If you want to develop a core that would make Kelly Ripa jealous, try … Brazilian jiu-jitsu

Jiu Jitsu
This East-(Japan)-meets-West-(Brazil) hybrid favors working on the ground and applying joint locks and submissions over standing up and exchanging punches and kicks. Brazilian jiu-jitsu also differs from other martial arts because it places a premium on technique and leverage as opposed to sheer size and strength.

Try it:
Alliance Jiu Jitsu
1607-G Montford Dr.

If you want to learn how to defend yourself like Jason Bourne sans the amnesia, try … kali

This rhythmic, high-speed Filipino martial art practices the philosophy that the best defense is a good offense. If you watched Matt Damon surgically dismantle an armed assassin using only a pen in The Bourne Identity, you bore witness to the brutal effectiveness of kali.

Try it:
Hard Target
5126 Park Rd.

If you want to look like Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith, try … fitness kickboxing.

While fitness kickboxing is closer to Tae Bo than other more traditional and storied martial arts in terms of serious self-defense, it provides an incredible calorie-destroying workout. After a few classes you might not be able to fight off a team of ninja assassins, but you'll at least look like you could.

Try It:
Charlotte Martial Arts Academy
2228 Hawkins Street
Cost is a one-time registration fee of $60 and a monthly fee of $60. Unlimited classes. 
If you're looking for a martial art the whole family will enjoy try … Tae Kwon Do.

The national sport of South Korea is also an Olympic event and considered by many to be the world's most popular martial art. Tae Kwon Do utilizes the belt system so everyone from lil sis to Dad will be able to learn at his or her own pace. Recommended for anyone above the age of four looking to combine self-defense, exercise, sport, and the internal aspects of martial arts. Great for families.  

Try it:
Academy of Martial Arts
10101 Newell Hickory Grove Road
$99 a month for two classes per week
If you've ever been harassed by the geese at Freedom Park and wish there was some way you could get them to leave you alone without injuring the overly aggressive fowl try … Aikido.

While Aikido shouldn't be practiced on any animals, this Japanese martial art is unique amongst other forms of self-defense because it places a unique emphasis on your attackers' well being. Aikido relies on using the bad guys momentum to execute a variety of throws and joint locks. Because it is such a defensive art it requires much less physical exertion than a majority of other martial arts. Recommended for pacifists, flower children, and people named Moonbeam. 

Try it:
The Aikido Center of Charlotte
234 N. Sharon Amity Road
Dues are $95 for the first month, which includes a gi (student uniform), student manual, and first month's dues. The second and subsequent month's dues are $75 a month.

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