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.
Instructor: Astros Quitayen
Astros Quitayen Sensei, also known as Troy Sensei, is the Aikido program head instructor who has been practicing the art for over 30 years. 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 his time as a volunteer Aikido instructor at MPAL since 2011. He currently holds a 4th degree black belt rank in Tomiki Aikido under Seiji Tanaka Shihan, 8th Dan, of TSAA/JAA. He also holds black belt ranks in Shinshin Toitsu Aikido and Aikikai as well. To maintain quality instruction, yudansha (black-belt) examination/promotion has been exclusively carried out at TSAA main dojo in CO. Troy Sensei teaches the Tomiki style of Aikido as he finds its curriculum more suitable for youth instruction.
Assistant Instructor: Dan Pascu
Dan Pascu is a practitioner of Aikido and Judo. He is a volunteer assistant instructor for the MPAL Aikido program under Sensei Troy.
After moving to Manchester NH, Dan was looking around for a judo program for his 5-year-old son and he found exactly what he wanted at MPAL. In 2019 he decided to step back on the mat and started volunteering for the Aikido program.
Assistant Instructor: Dr. Ernani Domingo
Originally from NJ, Ernani moved to NH in 1999 and currently lives with his wife and 2 kids in Bedford, NH. Ernani is a dentist and owner of Bay Street Family Dental, a dental practice located in Manchester, NH. He and his daughter, Amelia, have been studying Aikido with Sensei Troy Quitayen for the past 2 years. They both enjoy the training that they have been receiving from Sensei Troy! Ernani looks forward to continually supporting the MPAL Aikido program under Sensei Troy’s leadership!
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!
Coach: Dean Banaian
A lifelong resident of Manchester NH having attended Manchester Central HS and later Plymouth State College and UNH. As a late bloomer physically, Dean gravitated to weight-class sports where the lack of physical maturity and size were less of a barrier to being competitive. After college the desire to continue pursuing physical challenging competition ultimately led to competing in Powerlifting and Bodybuilding. Bodybuilding led to a lifestyle commitment that also had the ancillary benefit of meeting another bodybuilder in the form of Coach Deb.
After nearly 25 years of only competing with himself while being his wife and daughter’s cheerleader and pseudo trainer, coach Dean re-entered the competitive strength pursuits. At roughly 50 years old age group categories led to a state record in Raw Bench Pressing and then after a few years of watching Coach Deb dominate at the national level in Arm Wrestling coach Dean choose to try his hand at the sport and after winning his first event in the open age category at 53 years old he decided it wasn’t too late to give it a shot. 7 years later, having qualified for team USA 4Xs there’s still a chance to reach the highest level in this sport by reaching the podium at the World Championships, proving that just like bodybuilding can be a sustainable lifestyle, so too can Arm Wrestling be a lifelong competitive pursuit.
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.
Coach: Joe Piccione
Born in Brooklyn, NY, Coach Joe started boxing at an early age. Coach Joe began his training at a Brooklyn Police Athletic League in the basement of a local church. Coach Joe continued to train hard and competed in the Junior Gloves and Amateur Athletic Union (A.A.U.) boxing.
As a young adult, Coach Joe joined the United States Marine Corps from 1971-1974. After his time in the military, he became a carpenter in Boston. Coach Joe remained passionate and continued to train boxing, ultimately competing in the Golden Gloves.
In 1985, Coach Joe moved to New Hampshire and ultimately retired from the Boston Carpenter’s Union. He is now a “green level” USA Boxing certified Coach and has been passing on his boxing wisdom with the kids at the Manchester Police Athletic League since 2019.
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.