Maui Grapples with Martial Arts

August 16, 2011, 12:31 PM HST
* Updated August 16, 4:56 PM
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By Laura Greene

Image courtesy of Nicole Weinstein.

Maui’s climate and beautiful scenery lend well to living a healthy and active outdoor lifestyle. From water sports to team sports and from biking to hiking, there are an array of exercise options to choose from.

But sometimes it’s good to shake up the old routine and try a new sport, one that could affect not only your body and mind, but your entire way of life. Martial arts, which is seeing a surge in popularity on Maui, promises just that.

Classified into two types, martial arts can be considered as either striking or grappling arts. Historically, martial arts used both but as time progressed, striking became more predominant. Grappling systems like wrestling, judo and jiu-jitsu rely less on striking and more on joint locks, throws, takedowns, immobilization pins and chokes – which are all intended to subdue your opponent.

Learning how to grapple can be the gateway to a healthy new lifestyle and on July 4, 2011 a new academy that boasts a diverse range of classes for all ages opened in Lahaina.


“I wanted to bring something positive to the Westside,” said owner Chris Nardi.


Nardi, who is a black belt in traditional Japanese jiu-jitsu, in Gracie jiu-jitsu and a brown belt in judo, opened the Academy of Diverse Grappling with his wife Satoko, who comes from an Olympic-level judo wrestling family, and says that the health benefits are far-reaching.

“There are many to speak of; it’s great cardiovascular exercise, your muscular strength and endurance will increase and you will see a decrease in body fat. Reciprocally, that should lead to a good eating plan and your diet improves so you can increase your skill level and continue training and working towards your next goal, be it a promotion or a competition.

“By getting on the mat there is a certain etiquette and lifestyle that you need and these transfer over into your regular life – respect, loyalty and discipline. You must exhibit these qualities on the mat at all times. To say that someone comes here and trains for one hour and then goes back to their normal life – I don’t buy into that. It’s 24/7. You assimilate it into all aspects of your life.


He added: “Psychologically grappling can be good for you too – giving you balance and easing stress. It’s good to have that endorphin release and some guys come here just because they want to ‘bro out’ with their friends. It’s a healthy environment to do that, instead of going to a bar. We get lots of women here too, who like to come mostly for our

Lahaina's Academy of Diverse Grappling. Image by Nicole Weinstein.

self-defense classes.”

The Academy offers a diverse program of morning and evening classes six days a week. All ages are welcome, from five years and up. There is a “Menehune” (age 5-9) and a “Keiki” (ages 10-15) wrestling and judo program. Adults (16+) can learn Gracie jiu-jitsu self-defense, jiu-jitsu, judo, wrestling and submission grappling – which is a fusion of judo, wrestling and jiu-jitsu – all from instructors and coaches who have completed advanced training and certification in CPR and First Aid.

The Academy also has a rehabilitation center in the works, where Nardi will soon be offering treatment for sports injuries.

“It’s going to be a post-rehabilitation center,” he said. “Where we will be working with people who were previously discharged from physical therapy. It’s for people who are functional but not optimal, let’s say their insurance only paid for six sessions, they got discharged but they are still not 100%. We’re going to pick up where they left off and continue working with clients who are undergoing chiropractic care at the same time. There will be soft tissue work, therapeutic exercise, and self-taping using Kinesio tape, or I’ll work with people who may just want a home exercise program.”

For more information on the Academy of Diverse Grappling, visit:

Open from Monday- Saturday, The Academy of Diverse Grappling is located at 845 Wainee Street, Suite 109, Lahaina

Tel: (808) 661 1200

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