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.)
"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.