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Everybody knows Jackie Chan, Bruce lee, Jet Li, Cynthia Rothrock and Michelle Yeoh. Their death defying leaps, high flying kicks, lightning fast punches and spectacular stunt antics thrill movie goers around the world. Strong, fast, and cool; these are the kind of people kids (and adults alike) seek to emulate. Not too many people will deny their desire to be just like these silver screen heroes and heroines.

Recently, ETJ took a hands-on tour of Studio Tough- one of this city’s premier martial arts studios, located right in the Nagoya station area. With a name like that, we knew we were in for a physical experience.

Interestingly enough, Studio Tough is solely for female clientele- a one-of-a-kind in Japan. I asked the studio owner, Mr. Hiroaki Kume, why he has made his training program available exclusively for women.

“There are many women who feel uncomfortable doing exercise with men. For example, working out in a gym full of men can affect clothing choices for women. Instead of feeling relaxed and able to focus on working out, sometimes women become the centre of attention, receiving stares and comments which can heighten stress levels and reduce the chance of them returning to that gym. I want to provide a comfortable environment where women can feel at ease with their bodies and really focus on the work out.”

The popularity of this type of lesson can’t be denied. Studio Tough opened its doors for the first time in June of this year and already more than 600 members have joined. By catering exclusively to women and providing first class instructors, Studio Tough is really making its mark in the Nagoya area. On the day that ETJ visited, instructor Kozue, put this reporter through her paces. Kozue has over 20 years experience in kung fu and other Chinese martial arts but to look at her, you wouldn’t think she had the power to knock anyone onto their backside. As soon as the lesson started, my perception of this small, slender and friendly lady was immediately dashed. It was as if I was watching a real life kung fu movie straight out of Hong Kong. As the lesson progressed I could feel myself becoming stronger and as the techniques came thick and fast, I could almost see myself being airbrushed on the cover of an action DVD release- you know the ones, anything with the words ‘IMPACT’ or ‘LOW BLOW’ written in unapologetically large, red, 80’s font. At the end of the lesson I was convinced I was invincible and the surge of endorphins experienced after any good physical workout left me feeling somewhat indebted to Mr. Kume and Ms. Kozue. I’ll be back and dare I say that there could be another Charlie’s Angels in the making.

After some (but definitely not all) of the excitement had subsided I had a chance to talk with Mr. Kume about kung fu. I was interested to learn that ‘kung fu’ (??) is a Chinese noun meaning, ‘someone who is famous, someone who has expended a lot of effort for something or someone who is great’. For Chinese people, kung fu is known more commonly as woo shu (??)

I asked Mr. Kume why he opened a fitness studio primarily for kung fu.

“I have always liked kung fu movies and with my long experience as an instructor, for both kung fu and sports, I felt I would be in a good position to pass on my knowledge to people interested.”

I also asked about other programs currently being held at Studio Tough.

“We also offer south fist and tai chi. These are other types of Chinese martial arts which not only improve general health and fitness but are particularly effective in providing relief for aching shoulders, migraine headaches and menstrual pains.”

Wanting to know more about Mr. Kume’s motivation for opening such a unique fitness studio, I asked what gives him the most satisfaction.

“When the customer says ‘Studio Tough is the best place for me’, it makes it all worthwhile.”

Mr. Kume also has a message for foreigners in Japan.

“Living in a foreign country is not an easy thing and can be the cause of a great deal of stress. Physical exercise is an excellent way to release stress and one of the wonderful things about sport is that you don’t need words to participate. Please come and learn kung fu with us- you won’t believe how much it can improve your sense of well-being.”

I really couldn’t believe how I felt after Ms. Kozue’s lesson. Studio Tough was not a place I could easily forget and as the fatigue began to settle in, my mind wandered to Bruce Lee’s ‘Enter the Dragon’, which I must confess, I rented on the way home. If you indeed have aspirations of becoming the next action star or even if you just want to become healthier, more flexible and more confident, I enthusiastically invite you to give Studio Tough a try.

1 lesson: 70 minutes
Trading hours: 10:00 – 22:00 Monday ~ Sunday
Please inquire for lesson types and levels.
Sample fee: ¥10,000 for 1 month of unlimited access.
First trial lesson ¥1,000 with a printout of the coupon GET COUPON HERE.
Please e-mail us if you would like to book a trial lesson
People with Japanese speaking ability can call us for trial lesson bookings (052-569-1166).