In 1984, after earning his black belt in high school and serving in the U.S. Naval Reserve for six years, Steven White opened the Manchester Karate Studio on Bridge Street.
Today, he’s an eighth-degree black belt in kenpo karate and continues to train, serving as the studio’s chief instructor. The studio offers a variety of family, children and adult karate programs for ages 3 and up.
Current program director and instructor Lee MacDonald, who has been with Manchester Karate Studio for 20 years, said a number of factors make the center unique, including being the only certified training center for Gracie jiu-jitsu in the Granite State, and one of only two such centers in all of New England.
Gracie jiu-jitsu techniques were originally developed for members of the U.S. Army in the 1920s by Brazilian martial artist Helio Gracie and today focus on grappling and ground fighting for people of all ages and abilities.
“The Gracie jiu-jitsu program that we have is actually a little newer; it’s only about six years old,” MacDonald said. “It’s a very specific brand of jiu-jitsu.”
In addition to many administrative and managerial tasks, MacDonald’s duties also include one-on-one introductory private lessons with every new student, another feature he said makes the Manchester Karate Studio stand out. The studio is also active in the community, visiting area public schools and holding fundraising events for the Manchester school district, as well as other local organizations like Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and the Boy Scouts of America.
He said families are welcome to take classes together.
“I don’t hear of a lot of martial arts centers or schools that generally allow adults to train simultaneously in another class,” he said. “We do get frequent calls about that. … It might be a child with older siblings or Mom or Dad, or we’ve even had grandparents participate with their children as well.”