Thursday, July 27, 2017

At the new home of the Chinese Hawaiian Kenpo Academy on 2nd Avenue

All photos by Stacie Joy

Earlier last month, the Chinese Hawaiian Kenpo Academy (CHKA) moved from the second floor of 34 Avenue A to its new home at 122 Second Ave.

No. 122 between Seventh Street and St. Mark's Place houses the Ukrainian Sports Club, which has a space in the rear of the building. (The Club plans to be here for two more years.) The two-level space arrived on the market last fall, with signage noting retail/restaurant space for rent.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that CHKA, a 20-plus-year-old martial arts school offering classes in Kenpo karate and kickboxing for children and adults, was moving into the space. And not like, say, a gastropub.

I recently stopped by for a quick tour and to talk with Jane Ray, CHKA's program director, about the move. (The studio is owned by Sandra Shamburger. Her husband, Sifu Jack Shamburger, is the Academy's head instructor.)

[Jane Ray]

"We were looking for about a year-and-a half for a new space," Ray said. "We have so many kids from the neighborhood who come here — hundreds of families. And we work with the schools. So staying in the neighborhood was of paramount importance."

On Avenue A, CHKA was simply outgrowing the space.

"Before, we would run three classes side by side. We had sort of an invisible divider," said Ray, an East Village resident. "We were working in 800 square feet — we were bursting at the seams."

CHKA is now spread over two floors. They will eventually have locker rooms with showers and offer early-morning sessions for people who may wish to take a pre-day-job class.

For years CHKA has offered a free self-defense class (aka SMASH CLASS) for women on Tuesday evenings. Ray said that up to 50 participants would show up for a class. They have recently added a session on Thursday evenings ... and, just during the summer, one at 3 p.m. on Sundays.

"The women’s self-defense class is in the process of being incorporated as a not-for-profit entity, so that will help us get grants and funding to grow that program," Ray said. (CHKA also offers scholarship for kids and provides outreach at the Boys' Club of New York and other community groups.)

According to the Commercial Observer, Jerry Lebedowicz purchased 122 Second Ave. for $9.1 million last October. Before him, the Ukrainian Soccer Club owned the property since 1959. The building dates to 1920. There are also two apartments and 2,400 square feet of office space above CHKA.

The landlord will be installing a new façade with floor-to-ceiling windows.

"For a martial arts school, you always want people to see in and what we are doing. We have boxing, kickboxing — the visuals are a great marketing tool," Ray said with a laugh.

[Ray in action]


Saturday afternoon from 2-4, Steve "Nasty" Anderson — considered the greatest sport karate fighter of all time — is hosting a seminar at CHKA. Find details here.


Anonymous said...

Nice addition to our beleaguered nabe. Fuck yeah.

2nd Ave Silver Panther said...

Yes!!! As a long-time tenant of the building next door, I welcome a noble ally in the fight against neighborhood degeneracy.

Jose Garcia said...

Absolutely lovely coverage, Sir. Thank you. xo

Jane Ray, Program Director, CHKA said...

Thanks for helping to get the word out about our programs, and thanks to Stacie Joy for the lovely photos! We invite our EV neighbors to come in and see what CHKA is all about. In addition to the seminar with Master Steve "Nasty" Anderson, the world-renowned sport karate champion this Saturday, July 29 at 2 pm, we will also be having a Promotions ceremony this Sunday, July 30 at 1 pm where many of our students will do demonstrations and we will gather for a celebration afterwards. Both events are open to the public -- we hope to see some of our neighbors there!

Anonymous said...

My kids are students at CHKA and I think it's a wonderful martial arts school. It truly feels like a community there. Exciting that they have their new, larger space too. Check them out!

Unknown said...

I really hope that many people take advantage of the very rare opportunity to train under and or have their children train under martial artists of not only incredible talent and great accomplishment, but outstanding character with deep concern for each individual student. My son has trained under Sifu Jack for many years and I am so grateful to Chinese Hawaiian for the positive impact they have had in every area of his life. That is beyond priceless!