BY JESSICA MILITELLO
Gentle Art Studio, the latest new business to pop up on Astoria Boulevard, offers lotus jiu jitsu for members of the community focused on improving their body and mind with a fun and useful martial art.
The school — located at 28-02 Astoria Blvd. — offers classes starting from the age of 3 teaching Brazilian jiu jitsu, which focuses on grappling for self-defense, fitness and competitions. Their Jan. 18 grand opening welcomed new and experienced martial artists to train and improve their lives through the arts teachings.
Kelly Borges, the co-owner and assistant instructor at the school, stressed the importance of Gentle Art being a place welcome to everyone in the area.
“Jiu jitsu is for everyone and Gentle Arts Studio is for everyone,” said Borges. “We have kids from [age] 3 up to an 80-year-old [student] in here, and we really want to impact this community as much as we can in a positive way.”
Working with Borges is the school’s co-owner and head instructor, Eduardo Santos. Santos is a lifelong martial artist who is a fourth degree black belt and is internationally recognized as an instructor. He initially moved to Astoria from Brazil in 2006.
In Brazil he was a member of the Lotus Club, which is a competition team based in Sao Paolo that was founded in 1989 and has since spread to several countries around the world. Santos opened up his first Brazilian jiu jitsu school in a smaller space on Broadway in 2015. When the time came to expand, Santos and Borges decided it was best to stay in Astoria, a community that is beloved by both of them. The new space on Astoria Boulevard is much more expansive and has two floors with wide windows and is filled with vividly green plants and a large training floor to spread the art to even more Astorians.
The school offers classes for small children up to adults and has offerings for all levels of experience including fundamentals, advanced classes, as well as yoga. The art is based on the principles of Brazilian jiu jitsu, which translates to “gentle art.” It involves grappling and techniques that can be paramount in a self-defense scenario.
But aside from the physicality of the art, there is a major emphasis placed on spirituality and becoming a better person through the art and its teachings as well as the school being a second home, which is exactly what Santos and Borges hoped to bring to the neighborhood with their new location.
“We wanted to make a space where we could really help everybody to feel better when they walk in here,” said Borges. “A place where the kids and the adults are comfortable and everyone is welcome.”
For more information, visit gentleartstudio.com.