Martial Arts—A physical, mental, and emotional workout

October 2014 View more

Martial arts.While there are undeniable health benefits to hitting the gym every day, the monotony of treadmill jogging can make physical fitness mentally unfulfilling. For those looking for a more all-around engaging way to sweat, martial arts and self-defense offers a focus on the whole self—physical, mental, and emotional.

“A lot of people start martial arts for different reasons,” said Michael Eichenberg, owner and instructor at Warrior’s Edge in Naperville. “Some come looking for a way to defend themselves, others join as a way to increase their focus or self-confidence. You can learn so much about yourself by participating. It’s truly a life art.”

Traditional and New-Age Self-Defense

The Naperville area continues to see a strong presence of martial arts and self-defense classes that focus on both traditional martial arts and new-age self-defense systems such as Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Aikido, Jujutsu, Judo, Mixed Martial Arts, Muay Thai Kickboxing and others.

The Naperville Park District has offered various adult and youth martial arts for more than 20 years, but this year introduced two new programs to its catalog of classes—Chinese Kung Fu and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The programs will be taught by top-notch competitors from local academies, said Program Manager Jean Maher.

Warrior’s Edge largely teaches Aiki Ninjutsu, an art focused on realistic self-protection without the use of modern weapons. The goal, according to Eichenberg, is to utilize practical self-defense techniques and use the attacker’s energy against him or her. Another element to the craft is self-perfection—a goal to internalize the art form’s driving principles and live a safe and positive life.

“It’s about being able to take care of yourself and your family as much as a way to learn something new and be social,” Eichenberg said. “Martial arts are not just the way they’re portrayed in movies with screaming and punching blocks of wood. It’s a warm, friendly atmosphere and accepting of all people from all different cultures. It’s about learning about yourself, getting in shape, and meeting new people.”

Uniting Mind and Body

At Martial Arts Training Service, also in Naperville, husband and wife duo Maureen Browne and John Gussman have owned and taught Aikido, Judo, and Jujutsu for more than 23 years. The three martial arts each have a different focus, but all offer enhanced physical fitness while increasing the ability to focus and concentrate.

“Judo is a competitive, Olympic-focused sport, and some of our students compete nationally and internationally,” Browne said. “Aikido is a serious art that encompasses weapons training and meditation, unifying the mind and body. It’s the art of peace. Jujutsu is all about self-defense.”

While different, Browne said each art will also undoubtedly boost the participant’s self-confidence.

A Workout With A Purpose

Krav Maga is not a form of martial arts, but rather a self-defense system developed for the Israeli military focused on practical, real-world techniques according to DuPage Krav Maga owner and lead instructor Scott Lorenz. “What’s great about Krav Maga is it’s teachable to everyone from athletes to couch potatoes,” said Lorenz.

“This is a workout with a purpose,” said Lorenz. “You’re going to burn from 800 to 1,000 calories during our primarily interval-type training.”

The DuPage Krav Maga studio, located in Glen Ellyn, teaches both men and women with participants ranging in age from teens to late 50s. There are also a number of family duos who have taken classes together, including a father-daughter and father-son combinations.

Warrior’s Edge Martial Arts
790 Royal St George Dr, Naperville

Martial Arts Training Service
550 Industrial Drive, Naperville

DuPage Krav Maga
22 E 580 Poss St., Glen Ellyn

Naperville Park District
320 W. Jackson Ave. Naperville