Training begins at the Jet Center in Van Nuys before a student ever enters the dojo.
A sign listing 17 rules of conduct teaches a student the first lesson--how to behave in the dojo, Japanese for gym. The rules are indicative of the center's emphasis on control. Kick boxing, martial arts and boxing students learn to master their fears in the gym's "controlled atmosphere."
"Whoever controls their fear the best is going to come out ahead," said co-owner Blinky Rodriguez, a former professional kick boxer who is now an instructor. "Once you can't control your emotions, you're vulnerable."
Although a stable of professional boxers works out at the center, its program is geared for the novice who is seeking a good workout instead of a professional career.
"We cater to the average person where most boxing schools won't look at them," kick boxing teacher Ruben Urquidez said. "We've got people from the LAPD, doctors, ditch diggers. All they want to do is come in on their lunch hour, work out and know that someone is watching."
Members also include children, "incorrigible" youths sent by parents to learn discipline, and even some women in their 60s who take kick boxing as an alternative to aerobics.