A NEW AND MULTIDISCIPLINE MARTIAL ARTS ACADEMY IN WILLIAMSBURG EMBRACES NOT JUST PARADIGM DIVERSITY, BUT EVERYDAY APPLICABILITY OF SELF DEFENSE TECHNIQUES
BY EVAN MONROE
Between the two of them, Phil Cruz and Anthony Fontana have racked up 40 years of experience in martial arts training and competition, including instructing military personnel and coaching at world championship events, and so were in a unique position to bring the ever expanding Mixed Martial Arts sport and disciplines to a new facility in Williamsburg. Unlimited Martial Arts, an academy just opened in March, without question takes the “mixed” aspect of the term seriously; the training and fitness studio offers classes that embrace everything from Brazilian jiu jitsu to Jeet Kune Do to more traditional self-defense classes. “UMA’s principle is to offer a diverse array of martial arts beyond traditional training to anyone interested…man or woman,” the owners explained in a statement, adding that Filipino martial arts, Krav Maga, Thai boxing, Muay Thai, and Jun Fan Gung Fu are also on the educational roster.
The 2,750 square foot space is fitted with the considerable diversity of gear required for such instruction, including red and black training mats, speed bags and double bags, a wrecking ball bag, TRX and squat racks, and for more advanced movements, a Wing Chun wooden dummy for close combat training. Walls have been tagged and painted by local graffiti artist VERS and artist Dana Fiona, and an associated boutique offers uniforms, equipment, and concessions.
In an attempt to make instruction better applicable for real life self-defense, a Battle Ready circuit based group class prepares students for actual fighting, without the risk or pressure of actual harm. Group cardio and strength training classes and a children’s “Little Dragons” program are also available.
Cruz and Fontana met eight years ago while training in Filipino martial arts and Jeet Kune Do the latter a hybrid approach heavily influenced and informed by legendary martial artist/actor, Bruce Lee. Cruz was awarded apprentice instructorship under Guro Dan Inosanto, a protégé and student of Lee. A sixth degree black belt, Cruz was part of the coaching staff of the USA team of the World Kickboxing Association (his team won gold) and has trained with world champion fighters Megaton Diaz, Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro, and Clark Gracie. He has also trained with Sifu Paul Vunak and Tom Cruise of Progressive Fighting Systems, achieving full instructorship in both street fighting and edge weapons systems. Fontana has trained in martial arts for more than 20 years, and has been a martial arts instructor for six and a certified personal trainer for four years. He has a black belt in Jeet Kune Do and Filipino martial arts, has achieved instructorship in Progressive Fighting Systems, and is the first New York City instructor of SAMI Combat Systems (a collection of combat techniques developed by Peter Weckauf and the SAMI Institute).
The owners detail a particular professional resonance in Jeet Kune Do’s embrace of community involvement, humbleness of approach, and emphasis on education and minimalism—the sum as much philosophy as defense training. When asked to describe the environment at the new Academy, Cruz replied with a smile, “We’ll never say ‘We’re the best,’ but we’re going to bring out the best in you. The academy seeks to help students build confidence while breaking limits and erasing invisible barriers in life, from bullies to naysayers.”
Unlimited Martial Arts
171 Meeker Avenue / 718.218.7515 / UMAbrooklyn.com