A slew of Bruce Lee types, embracing both men and women, could soon be making their way through the streets of New York--but with an added physical dimension; expertise in rough, tough and often savage street fighting. In brief, those bad guys--terrorists, robbers, rapists or whomever--could unwittingly run afoul of the fighting prowess of the renowned martial arts warrior Lee the next time they try to do their thing. It' all part of a new class--called Street Fighting--that New York Health & Racquet Club has recently added to its fall schedule.
It is patterned after Lee's Oriental fighting style, Jeet Kune Do, and teaches what the club describes as a street-effective self-defense system that centers on:
- Trapping (immobilizing an opponent's limb)
- Grappling (defending yourself if you are knocked to the ground)
The class is taught by 41-year old Dino Orfanos, who has been studying the martial arts since he was 13. The new class is viewed as an extension of physical fitness economics, created by the club to increase membership appeal as a means of further boosting the bottom line. Initiated a few weeks ago, the Street Fighting class, given four times a week and running between 45 minutes and an hour, is already attracting some New York folks who seem read to take on the bad guys, according to Mr. Orfanos. The class is enticing between 5 and 10 people during its three day sessions and between 12 and 20 people during its evening course. The attendees, by and large, are between their early 20's and late 40's, and about a third of them are women. "We're just starting to build up and we see more people coming in all the time," says Mr. Orfanos. Included in the course is instruction in knife fighting namely what you should do if someone attacks you with a knife. Apparently, there are more self-defense addicts than you might suspect.
Mr. Orfanos, who also provides private lessons at $60 an hour, gives between 15 and 22 of them a week. "I can't do any more, I'm just packed," he says. Mr. Orfanos, who also operates a martial arts school in Little Neck, N.Y., feels it's only a matter of time before his lessons at the Health & Racquet Club attract a goodly number of Big Apple folk in their mid to late 50's, as well, since this age group, he tells me, is well represented in his school classes. "Today, you have to be able to defend yourself at all ages, to give it all you've got if someone puts you in harm's way, and being in your 50's doesn't make you an invalid," he says. Mr. Orfanos believes that terrorism, especially 9/11, sniper shootings in Maryland, Virginia, and the Washington D.C., area, talk of Al Qaeda cells springing up in America and the treat or war are all part of the fear factor that could heighten the appeal of the Street Fighting class. But the major spur, he feels, is still the frequency of crime in the city. "I think more people are waking up to the fact that it makes no sense to be defenseless, while you're at risk," he says.
What's the best defense if someone pulls a knife on you? "Run as fast as you can," Mr. Orfanos says.
I agree. It strikes me as far more preferable to the Health & Racquet Club's instruction in knife fighting, as good as it may be.
And it a robber points a gun at you? What then?
"Don't think twice about it," Mr. Orfanos says. Just be obedient and give him everything you've got. It makes much more sense than being murdered." Sounds right to me, but I've never seen Bruce Lee do that.