What is Aikido? Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art focused on self-defense. It is a refinement of various traditional martial techniques combined with the philosophy of harmonizing with an opposing force with precise maneuvers to neutralize aggression with the least effort. Unlike other arts, Aikido does not rely on punches and kicks but rather on body and mind coordination to effectively redirect an aggressor’s energy, coupled with the application of efficient joint manipulation techniques.
The facility maintains several sets of uniforms for use in Aikido and Judo programs, so there’s no requirement for participants to secure their own.
Coaches: Sensei Troy and Sensei Chad
Astros Quitayen Sensei, also known as Troy Sensei, is the Aikido program head instructor who has been practicing the art for 30 years now. His first job provided him the opportunity to study Aikido in various dojos in Japan for about 7 years, including the famed Hombu dojo in Shinjuku. His engineering profession eventually brought him to the U.S. in 2000, and he began teaching the art at the YMCA facility in downtown Manchester, NH in 2008. He now spends more time teaching Aikido at MPAL, as a volunteer instructor, since 2011. He currently holds a 3rd degree black belt in Tomiki Aikido under Seiji Tenaka Shihan, 8th Dan, of TSAA. He also holds black belt ranks in Shinshin Toitsu Aikido and Aikikai as well. Troy Sensei teaches the Tomiki style of Aikido at MPAL as he finds the curriculum more suitable for the youth.
Chad Murphy started his martial arts training as a kid with Kenpo Karate and then trained for a few years in Tae Kwon Do before discovering Aikido in 2006. He trained under Duggar Sensei at the Manchester Budo Club YMCA in Manchester where he received his Shodan (black belt). He then trained under Joyce sensei at the same club where he received his Nidan (second degree black belt). He still actively trains under both Joyce sensei and QUITAYEN Sensei. He was born and raised here in NH and has lived here all his life. He currently works in the field of law enforcement where he has held various positions for the last 18 years.
Everyone has tried arm wrestling, yet most don’t realize it is an international, competitive sport. The sport has recently spiked in interest after the reality series Game of Arms in 2014.
World Champion, Debbie Banaian and her husband, National Champion, Dean Banaian coach youth arm-wrestling and hope to develop participants from the first time they enter the gym all the way to competitive National Champions. Athletic attire is suggested, including sneakers. Athletes will enjoy learning the following: arm wrestling safety, body positioning, hand grip, arm wrestling techniques (top roll, hook, press), strategic moves, strengthening and conditioning, straps, and WAF competition rules.
Coach: Debbie Banaian
Debbie hopes to encourage youth to find pride in their strength and to apply it in ways that inspire others to do the same. Debbie remembers the first day she walked into PAL; she immediately wondered how different life might have been for her, growing up had this opportunity been available. She didn’t know how she could help but was sure she had to be a part of this caring family.
Growing up, Debbie competed in gymnastics and then had the opportunity to coach gymnastics on and off for about 15 years. In addition to gymnastics, she began lifting about 30 years ago and competed in bodybuilding (only because she wanted to be trained by a particular handsome bodybuilder who incidentally is now her husband of over 30 years). Hooked, Debbie returned to weight-training for a couple of months and decided to try competitive powerlifting. After a year, she successfully achieved state, national, and world records.
In November 2011, Debbie tried her “hand” at arm wrestling at a tournament in Portland, Maine. Having never arm wrestled before, she walked out with a second place trophy from a women’s open class and it has been a journey ever since. To date, Debbie has done workshops across New England for women and youth, and she has won 14 National Championship titles and is a 2-time Gold Medal World Champion. Most importantly Debbie has a blast doing it and as much fun teaching!
Boxing is a core program at MPAL. In the boxing gym, our youth is taught hard work, discipline and perseverance by our coaches. While boxing is an individual sport, MPAL teaches boxers how to work as a team and develops participants from the first time they enter the gym all the way to the golden gloves. Boxing is open to youth who are at least 10 years old.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, known as “the Gentle Art”, is a form of martial arts. Similar to wrestling, jiu-jitsu is a grappling, non-striking form of martial arts that is performed primarily on the ground. Unlike wrestling however, there are no pin-falls. You win a BJJ match by forcing your opponent to submit to either a submission lock of a limb or joint and/or choke hold. BJJ is founded on the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend themselves against a bigger, stronger, heavier opponent by using technique and leverage. Jiu-Jitsu teaches discipline, respect, self-control, determination, patience, and humility. Jiu-Jitsu is open to kids ages 12+.
Coach: Dan Saia
Dan Saia is a practitioner of Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu where, as of today, he is a purple belt. He runs MPAL’s Jiu-Jitsu program in the summer. He is also a volunteer coach for the MPAL Gryphons Wrestling and is also the head varsity wrestling coach for Manchester Memorial High school. Dan has been coaching wrestling in the city since 2015. Dan wrestled for Merrimack, NH in middle and high school and went on the wrestle at Plymouth State University. Dan graduated with a Bachelors degree in Physical Education then went on to obtain his Master’s degree in Sport Management from Southern New Hampshire University. As well as coaching, Dan is also a first grade Physical Education teacher in Hudson, NH. Dan has coached at all levels from youth to college.
The Granite State Gryphons Wrestling Club was formed in April of 2011 by Jason Cumming to give wrestlers in the Greater Manchester area with limited transportation a place to train. Gryphons Wrestling moved to the Manchester Police Athletic League in 2013. The program has helped develop wrestlers from around the state. Over 90% of our wrestlers have become State Champion, State Placers, New England Places, and/or All-Americans.
MPAL Gryphons Wrestling features quality instruction and clinics from area high school and college coaches and college wrestlers, as well as intensive drills to maximize our wrestlers’ fluidity and potential.
Kids in grades K-6 focus on fundamentals and are taught the basics and rudimentary skills needed for long-term success while combining games and contests that enhance the skills.
Kids in grades 7-12 feature more advanced techniques (including Freestyle), drilling, strength, and conditioning.
During the season (November-April), wrestlers are broken out into two levels:
- Bootcamp: Open to all wrestlers in grades K-2; all wrestlers in grades 3-8 start here.
- Combat: Invite only. Please note: wrestlers can be sent back to Bootcamp.
Coach: Charlie Kenna
Born and raised in New Hampshire, Charlie started wrestling at age 9 and never looked back. Starting his wrestling career right down the road from MPAL at the Manchester YMCA, he went on to wrestle for Concord High School and Plymouth State in college. He has been a part of multiple championship teams both as a coach and a competitor. At MPAL, Charlie hopes to give back to and grow the sport that has given him the tool to succeed both personally and professionally. Through wrestling, Charlie hopes to teach discipline, accountability, and resiliency… or more simply put good old fashion toughness.