At Dojo Fairfield, Women Kick Butt!

fairfield dojoAt Fairfieldista, we love strong women who can kick some proverbial butt!  So we’re super excited to bring you today’s story about Karina Gramesty and Kailen Pirro of Dojo Fairfield! Last August, Karina and Kailen acquired Dojo Fairfield (formerly Stryker Martial Arts) and began infusing it with their own brand of martial arts training and the program is exploding – especially with women, in fact, women make up 80% of their adult program!  Their inclusive, “no intimidation” environment allows kids to develop leadership and self-discipline, and the adult program focuses on fitness, offering the only Cage Fitness program in Fairfield, and self-defense.  Interested in learning about Dojo Fairfield and their unique blend of fitness and fun? Read our interview with co-owner Kailen Pirro!

Fairfieldista: How did you get into martial arts?

Kailen: I began training in the martial arts back in 2008, after I noticed how much fun my son was having in his karate program.  Martial Arts was never something that I sought out, and under different circumstances, I doubt I ever would have tried it… but thankfully I went in for my introductory class, fell in LOVE with the program, and have been training ever since.  It keeps me in great shape, and provides me with an unparalleled level of stress relief – a true win/win situation!
Karina began training in 2007, after receiving a postcard in the mail. Her track record for ‘committing’ to a program wasn’t great, but Martial Arts was the exception.  She had never been so challenged, not only physically but mentally by a workout.  Her years of running and biking to nowhere while still inside the gym were finally over.

We both became owners of the school back in August 2014, and are committed to sharing our enthusiasm, knowledge, and training curriculum with the larger community in Fairfield and the surrounding towns.
Fairfieldista: When did you open Dojo Fairfield and what does it offer that’s unique?
Kailen: We took ownership of the school this past August, although Dojo Fairfield (formerly Stryker Martial Arts) has been in operation since 1999!  When looking for martial arts instruction in Fairfield, there are a LOT of choices.  Many adhere to a strict style of martial arts, from kung fu to taekwando, while our dojo maintains a different mindset.Instead of teaching a singular form of martial arts, we instead focus on providing character development in our kids program, and supporting the roles of parents.  Our stance, is that anyone can teach your child to punch and kick, so we are committed to fostering the development of confident, respectful  children.  Do we teach punching and kicking?  Absolutely!  Our background training is a fusion of kempo and kungfu – however our goal is to ensure that our students listen to their parents, are respectful in school, and are leaders in life.

Our adult program is also a bit of an anomaly in the martial arts (in a GREAT way!).  Our adult kickboxing community is over 80% women – and the vast majority of our students never set foot in a martial arts studio prior to joining our program.  We truly specialize in maintaining a ‘no intimidation’ environment on our mat, and our students are some of the most supportive individuals we have ever met.
Fairfieldista: What is cage fitness…it sounds scary!
Kailen: Hahaaa.  Yes it DOES sound scary – but the scariest thing about Cage Fitness is strictly the name.  Cage Fitness is a program developed by Matt Hughes, a 2-time UFC welterweight champion.  It consists of five 5-minute rounds of heart-pumping, calorie shredding exercises, followed by 1 minute of rest.  Student use a 25 or 40 pound bag during the exercises. In Cage Fitness there is NO Contact, NO Partners, and NO Martial Arts.. ALL of our focus in on results.The beauty of our Cage Fitness program is that it doesn’t require any progression or fundamentals that are necessary in martial arts training.  This allows us to open up the program to Drop-In’s and offer class packages instead of having students commit to long-term training.

Cage Fitness is also easily modified, so ANYONE is able to participate in the program – no matter where they’re at with their fitness.  We have a variety of students working side by side on the mat; students who are training for a Tough Mudder race, and students who are engaging in their first fitness program ever!  Everyone is working towards their personal best.
Dojo Fairfield is the ONLY facility offering Cage Fitness in Fairfield and we’re excited to offer this phenomenal training opportunity!
Fairfieldista: How does martial arts practice benefit individuals at all age levels and abilities?
Kailen: Martial Arts training can mean different things to different people.  Many folks who don’t train, assume that it is violent, or pugilistic. I find the opposite to be true.  Classes often bring a sense of calm in my life, and help me feel centered.  Martial Arts can also be practiced at any age, so it isn’t an activity that has a limited life-span.
Our youngest students get excited to train because they get to ‘punch and kick a bag’ – however, they also learn to have patience, and stand in a calm, focused ‘attention stance’ when asked to do so.  Outside of a martial arts studio, I haven’t found many 4 year olds who can stand still for 2 minutes!  (Although technically, this one aspect seems to be a benefit for their parents!)
The older students in our juniors program (age 10 and over) are navigating through the difficult tween and teen years.  At this stage, their martial arts training is about celebrating successes and allowing them to see that they don’t need to be influenced by their peers.  Their time in our dojo is a consistent reminder that they are progressing towards (and meeting) individual goals, and are amongst a group of kids who ‘get’ them.
Our adult kickboxing students also receive a tremendous amount of benefits from their training. Not only are they engaging in an activity that will better their overall health (physical and mental), they’re finding an outlet for life’s stressors, and forging some strong friendships in the process.  Karina and I are students – first and foremost – and it is unimaginable that we would miss an opportunity to support our peers when they test for their new rank.  It truly is a unique community, and we are honored to be a part of it.

Fairfieldista: What else do you want readers to know about Dojo Fairfield?

Kailen: Although Martial Arts training and Cage Fitness may not be the first activity you think of engaging in, we strongly encourage you to stop in to our dojo and try out a class!  We have an amazing group of students – both adult and youth – who are ready to welcome you.

We’ve found that the hardest part of training is often making the decision to begin.  If you can do that, and walk through the front door, we promise to take care of the rest!

Dojo Fairfield is located at 2317 Black Rock Turnpike Fairfield,  (203) 319-9989


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