Inside a glass-enclosed gym, young martial arts students are leaning back on their left foot and kicking upward with their right foot, striking a pad held by their master.
While one student kicks, the others wait their turn, preparing for the master to block their kick again.
After a couple minutes of structured training the students began playing with a ball, kicking and throwing it around, loosening up, and taking a break from their martial arts routines.
Above the student, on a wall inside the gym, a sign says “Champions of Life,” a sentiment the Blue Moon Project, a martial arts gym in Port Washington, stands by.
Students who train at the Blue Moon Project aren’t just improving their martial arts skills, but are also improving their physical strength, developing a stronger mind and creating family-like relationships, Steve Ayoung, one of the masters said.
“We really try to empower kids and adults through different practices,” Ayoung, one of the martial arts masters at Blue Moon Project, said. “It’s not just about fighting.”
The Blue Moon Project offers TawKwonDo, body-mind fitness, mindfulness and wellness classes, Zumba, physical strength training, kickboxing and mixed martial arts for children and adults.
The Blue Moon Project will be hosting a Men’s Night Out MMA Fight Club on April 19 to raise money for the 2017 Gambol, Paul D. Schreiber High School’s senior prom.
Participants will witness an MMA demonstration and then train with Ayoung, learning different moves and positions.
“The Gambol is a very important event in down and we’re happy to be doing fundrasing for it,” said Helen Oh, the Blue Moon Project’s owner. “We felt like it was our way to bring something new into Port.
Ayoung and Oh said the Blue Moon Project teaches martial arts differently than other schools, teaching martial arts as a way of life, mixing in physical training and meditation.
“We’re trying to bring back the old-school style of martial arts,” Ayoung said. “Martial arts is a part of life, and we’re trying to make it a part of our students lives.”
Ayoung, who has a background in TawKwonDo, kickboxing and MMA, said other schools act like “belt factories,” moving students through the ranks too quickly and not teaching them the proper aspects of martial arts.
He said it takes children about four years to achieve black belt status and adults about seven years, while other schools offer black belts in one or two years.
“Learning martial arts isn’t just about fighting too,” he said. “It’s about getting improving your mind together and keeping in shape. Students are also building a sense of camaraderie too. We really want to go beyond martial arts and address the whole person.”
All classes feature a low student-teacher ratio for students to get the full attention of the instructor, Ayoung said.
He said it allows him and other instructors to work closely with students and make sure they are comfortable and are performing with good technique.
“People are comfortable here because we strive to make them feel comfortable,” he said.
Ayoung said he and students build lifelong connections through martial arts, staying in contact because he wasn’t just their master but rather their friend.
While children are learning, parents can visit the project’s spa area, Moon Glo, which offers different facial and hydro dermabrasion treatments and massages.
The MMA Fight Club on April 19 will run from 7:30 to 9:30 and is for men ages 21 and over at the Blue Moon Project at 194 Main Street in Port Washington
At 9 p.m., there will be a question and answer session, raffles and refreshments.
Following the fight club, Finn MacCools will be hosting an after party at 205 Main Street in Port Washington.