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. Officer John Levasseur coaches youth in boxing 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.
Coach: Officer John Levasseur
Manchester Police Officer John Levasseur is assigned to the Police Athletic League full time. His responsibilities include coordinating all programs, coaching, and maintaining the building. Officer Levasseur has been highly acclaimed for his ability to work with youth and his expert coaching abilities. Officer Levasseur has significant experience in boxing and mixed martial arts.
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: Ben Tessier
Coach Ben started wrestling at the age of 8 and continued until he graduated from Nashua High School in 1991. After graduating he moved onto the Marines where he was part of Infantry & Security Force units until 1995. Post his Marine Corp career, he embarked on building a civilian life complete with wife and children.
He coached youth wrestling for the past ten years at the Granite Y in Manchester before moving over to MPAL in November 2018. In true community fashion, he helps out at various wrestling programs throughout the state and continues to grow NH wrestling.
His vision is to utilize the sport of wrestling to provide a space for young girls and boys to build confidence and self-esteem, improve their physical stature, as well as challenge themselves in ways most never attempt. To do so, he incorporates a solid support staff of coaches, administrative resources, and most importantly the parents. It is through coaching wrestlers AND parents, the real magic happens.
He stands for a world of compassion & support mixed in with some good old fashion wrassling.