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Readers' Choice: Where is the Best Martial Arts Studio in Santa Cruz?

It isn't just about kicks or fighting. Martial Arts are just that, an art, a discipline, a way of study and a path to enlightenment.

Eastern Martial Arts have become much more popular recently in the West and there are all kinds of studios around teaching all kinds of disciplines.

And, no, it wasn't just the Ninja Turtles who got the trend going, at least not here in Santa Cruz.

To what studio do you belong and why? Santa Cruz Patch is looking for a way to let people who might be interested in taking up a martial art know where others have benefitted.

You can vote in our poll, but the most important thing would be to give comments about why a newbie should check out a teacher or discipline. It would help steer people in the right direction and guide them through the mass of complicated choices.

Some of those around include:

Institute, which offers Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Karate, Kung Fu and Tae Kwon Do.

which offers kickboxing, wrestling and boxing in classes tailored to all ages and has lessons with Garth Taylor, winner of multiple Brazilian Jiu Jitsu world championships.

, which has children's classes, kickboxing, Korean martial arts and teens cardio fitness.

, which is hosted by Chief Master Sang U. Jin, an 8th degree Black Belt in the Korean marshal art of Ho Kuk Mu Sul.

, which has a range of skills from kickboxing to yoga.

, which teaches all ages to draw from inner strength for their martial arts.

, which teaches the "gentle" martial art.

, which caters to all ages and features teachers who have been world champions.

Santa Cruz Family Martial Arts, reader recommended: "My 4 children ages 8-17 have been taking classes there for a year and I cannot speak highly enough about these teachers. They work hard to teach Taekwondo in a very positive and fun atmosphere without skimping on discipline and technique. My kids love it."

Voting in the poll is open until 9 a.m. Friday. Ties will be broken by whichever business has the most positive comments in the section below.  We will announce the winner at noon Friday and that business will receive a "Patch Readers' Choice" certificate.

If we've missed a school, drop us a line and we will add it.

Last week won for best spot to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and the week before won for best place to get a sandwich.

Brad Kava March 20, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Diane: done, thanks!
Beth M March 20, 2012 at 03:22 PM
My son has been a member of Mantis Martial Arts/Kung Fu Kids since the age of 5 - he's now 9. We started with their summer camp program (reasonably priced AND a great day for kids) and then stayed with Mantis through the school year, because they offer pickup service from all schools in the area, homework help, healthy snacks and great classes. Luke Gelin and his staff are professional, experienced and know how to work with kids to give them not only a great workout and excellent martial art skills, but insist on an atmosphere of teamwork. Older kids help younger kids, and there is no bullying allowed. In fact, we've never seen anything but exceptional nurturing from the older kids. I cannot speak highly enough of the program, Yvan the awesome instructor, the Gelin family and highly motivated and caring staff. http://www.santacruzkungfu.com/
Lucia Orlando March 21, 2012 at 05:06 AM
I love Laird's Academy of Martial Arts on Walnut St. near downtown SC. I've been going there with my husband and ten year old son for three years now and it's a wonderful atmosphere for both children and adults. I'm not particularly athletic so I was surprised at how much fun it is. There's a little bit of everything: korean martial arts, forms that incorporate martial arts and gymnastics, hapkido hand techniques (joint locks) tae kwon do kicking and sparring, jiu jitsu, and judo. Mike Laird is an outstanding instructor, he really knows how to break things down into understandable parts and keeps the classes challenging, fun and interesting. He also has an amazing gift when it comes to directing the energy of little boys! Classes are open to all ages and abilities, so we never had to juggle child care, and it's something we can all participate in together. We've made some wonderful friendships there and greatly enjoy the supportive community. There's something for everyone at Laird's: fitness, fun, improved confidence, strength, agility, discipline, and awareness - you get the idea!
matt wong March 22, 2012 at 08:55 AM
The school is fantastic because both owner/instructors find time to interact with each and every student to improve their skills in jiu jitsu. Moreover, Julio and Sandro are fantastic role models promoting a positive attitude towards establishing a healthy lifestyle.
Sandra Paola Sottomano March 24, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Sandro Batata Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art, combat sport, and a self defense system that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting. It teaches that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger assailant by using leverage and proper technique – most notably by applying joint-locks and chokeholds to defeat the other person.

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