Thursday, May 14, 2009

McNair Fitness Center offers new classes

Photo by Alex McVeigh
Master Dong Jin Kim demonstrates a combat jujitsu maneuver on William T. Berry, one of his students. Kim teaches combat jujitsu classes designed for military and police personnel at the Fort McNair Fitness Center.
The pools will be opening in a week, and just admit it, you’ve fallen well behind your New Year’s Resolution to be in shape by the summer. While you’re singing ‘‘Auld Land Syne,” Memorial Day seems to be far off, but sure enough, the months blend into one another, and now you’re facing another summer of swimming with your shirt on.

Well, the Fort McNair Fitness Center wants to help you do something about that. No, they’re not offering last minute liposuction, but several classes are now available to help you get in shape, maybe by the Fourth of July if you’re lucky.

Instructor, Master Dong Jin Kim, is teaching combat jujitsu classes five days a week. With 41 years of martial arts experience, he specializes in techniques for military and law enforcement personnel.

His resume speaks for itself. At 53 years old, he is the youngest 9th dan (levels of Japanese martial arts) in jujitsu. He is also a 7th dan in Kendo and an 8th dan in Hapkido.

Kim comes from a military and law enforcement background, which explains the focus of his class. He rose to the rank of major in the Fiji Military Forces, before moving to the United States in 2001. Living in Utah, he worked with the Salt Lake City Police Department, as well as the Army’s 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in matters of self defense. He moved to Washington, D.C. in 2005.

‘‘My dream was always to teach in Washington, D.C.,” Kim said. ‘‘America is the number one country, and I think D.C. is the number one city in the country, there’s just so much here.”

While in Washington, D.C., he has taught martial arts at National Defense University, the U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters, Reagan National Airport and the University of Maryland.

His students credit his blending of tradition with practicality as what makes him so effective.

‘‘He’s very down to earth, very real,” said William T. Berry, a Coast Guard veteran who has been involved with martial arts for 20 years. ‘‘He has an ingrained sense for modern martial arts, and I would consider him the best instructor I’ve ever had.”

For those who aren’t as inclined to hand-to-hand combat, but just want to work up a sweat, there’s another option for you.

Johnathon Smith of the Fort McNair Fitness Center has started teaching a boot camp, similar to the one at the Fort Myer Fitness Center.

Smith sets up stations in the center’s utility room, stations that provide a good balance between strength and cardio training.

‘‘I just try and get them to get a good sweat going,” Smith said. ‘‘I like to mix up the stations, try to keep it fresh every time someone comes to class.”

Every minute, students go to a different station, which might include mountain climbers, resistance bands, balancing exercises or whatever else Smith is in the mood for.

‘‘Every time I go to the class, I come out sore as heck,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Tai Davis. ‘‘So I at least know I’m doing something right.”

Smith plays a selection of old-school funk, soul and rhythm and blues, something else that students enjoy.

‘‘The music is great, it just keeps me moving the whole time,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Nina Crosby.

For more information about Kim’s combat jujitsu classes visit his Web site at Classes are held Mondays at 11:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Thursdays at 11:30 a.m., Fridays at 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays at noon.

Smith holds his classes Tuesdays and Thursdays, at 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. The class lasts approximately an hour.

For more information about any of the programs offered at the Fort McNair Fitness Center, call (202) 685-3117.