Best Neighborhood Dojo - 2005
IOMASDA Karate Academy
Most weekday evenings at around 6, an uplifting sound wafts across the intersection at 20th and Lexington streets: A class full of ghi-outfitted 3- to 10-year-olds belts out "Yaaaaa!" It's particularly easy to hear the joyful little hollers on warm summer nights, when the door of this corner dojo is propped open. Owner Sensei Reed is celebrating 10 years of specializing in affordable self-defense and exercise classes for kids and teens. As impressive as this is, the real value at Iron Octopus Martial Arts Survival Defense Academy is Reed's friendly personality. He describes his method as "a no-quit attitude, hard training, dedication to the community, and positive thinking," but his talent is better reflected in the adoring looks he gets from students and families who stop by to say hello, as they often do. "Slap me five!" the ponytailed teacher grins, dropping whatever he's doing. The child in question inevitably does as he's told, giggling like a maniac, and then immediately runs to hide behind Mom, making everyone laugh. Evening classes for adults (including a women's kickboxing course) and weekend sparring sessions round out the curriculum.