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Whitestone dojo caters to pupils of all ages

Practicing together in their new, expanded dojo, the students at Fierce Dragon Martial Arts Academy are not typical. They range in age from 3-year-olds to teenagers to their parents to seniors looking to get in shape — and Michael and Jessica Kimmel offer classes for them all.

“It has been a dream come true,” said Michael Kimmel.

The Kimmels, chief instructor Michael and his wife, program director Jessica, have run their academy in one form or another for six years. In April, they found their latest, 38,000-square-foot location at a former warehouse at 150-42 11th Ave. in Whitestone and opened in August, Jessica Kimmel said.

She said Michael has had a lifelong commitment to martial arts and announced at his junior high school graduation that he wanted to open a martial arts studio.

“It’s been my husband’s dream forever,” Jessica Kimmel said.

The academy offers training in tae kwon do, hapkido, a self-defense program called the “Personal Protection System” and mixed martial arts, but also offers a variety of fitness options. In its new location, the academy offers Pilates and a training room where students work out on a treadmill. In addition, the new location has an observation space where parents or siblings can watch students train and an area in the back with computers and tables for the academy’s new after-school program and for birthday parties.

Jessica Kimmel said the birthday parties can be up to two hours and the package includes martial arts, inflatables, invitations, pizzas, paper goods and a cake that Michael Kimmel cuts with a sword.

“They have a really good time at the birthday parties,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Fierce Dragon offers programs for students of all ages, Jessica Kimmel said. “Little Dragons” is for kids 3 to 5 years old. Children’s tae kwon do is available to children 6 to 11 years old. The teen/adult class is available to students 12 years and older. After-school programs begin at 3:45 p.m. and adult classes go on into the evenings. In February, the academy will also be running the Silver Belt program for adults 50 and older, which will take place during the day.

Michael Kimmel, who began martial arts at 11 and is now 36, said the best part of his academy is the family-oriented atmosphere. Because of the variety of ages the academy teaches, families often train together. He said as someone who also works as a school teacher, it is gratifying to see kids throughout the year, and in some cases over the course of many years.

“I get to see them for a lifetime, as long as they stay with me,” Michael Kimmel said.

He said his academy also does not focus on only strength, but also on fitness and building confidence.

“Punching and kicking is only one aspect,” Michael Kimmel said.

Jessica Kimmel said tuition is done on a month-to-month basis and pricing is discussed during the initial meeting. The first week is always free.

She said they both love working at the academy

“We pour our heart and soul into this place because we love it,” Jessica Kimmel said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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