Nail Pulls Nail - How Hot Tea and Hotter Peppers Changed a Life | 4GK Martial Arts
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Danna Davis

My 6 year old son has been attending Ninja class at 4GK since August 2018. He loves it and I do too! He loves the skills and games and I love the discipline he is learning. I’ve spoken with a child-behavior doc about what he gets to do in class and the doc was *thrilled*. It’s clear that he believes in the philosophies Sifu and Miss Heidi teach about the importance of play and physical activity for children for all aspects of their development.

Jen Robinson

I took a kickboxing class and it was amazing. I was so pumped and ready to take on the day. Everyone was super nice and the routine was so much fun I would definitely recommend and be back for more!!!

Laura Miller - Owner, Little People's Center reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

Had the pleasure of visiting Heidi at 4GK Martial Arts and observing both her EARLY SKILLZ for children ages 3-4 and MOMMY AND ME class for children 18 months and up. The children are guided through the basics of martial arts with hands on gross motor activities set at their own individual pace. It was a pleasure to see.

Di Trudden reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

My daughter completed her first group class tonight and I could not be a prouder or happier mama right now! Heidi Burmann and Raquel made Lily feel welcome and were so patient with her as she was learning the kicks and routines. I am so happy that we discovered a healthy and fun new hobby for Lily! If you are looking for an affordable place where your little one can learn and grow then 4GK is for you!

Everyone knows I have been on my own little health journey creating Our Mommy Movement and finding new ways to exercise. I signed up for kick boxing classes through 4GK and am really excited to try them out! Seeing how patient and kind the staff was with Lily I don’t have to worry about being surrounded by people who will judge me while I try to keep up with the moves.

Tina Dos Reis reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

Great school and awesome team! Everyone is extremely friendly. My nephew Sebastian just loves his Extreme Skill class and after watching the team work together, I decided to try the kickboxing class. Frank put the entire class through a great workout! I can't wait to lose weight and build muscle. It's just the change I was looking for! Thank you 4GK!

Jennie D'Ambroise reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

Great school! Adult kung fu classes are approachable for all levels. You will learn a lot and you will work hard. Sifu and your fellow students will help you to improve and you will make great friends. Kickboxing classes will also kick your butt. Women, train here, you are welcome at all classes and the atmosphere is friendly and supportive.

Tommy Aliberti reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

This has always been a home away from home! Very much a family, and I have been part of this system for 18 years! Great values, hard work, and many lessons to be learned every time, which I have taken with me in the ring, and in everyday life! 5 Star recommendation!

Donnie Keegan reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

My daughter has been studying here for, two months shy of, three years. She still loves it! I my self have decided to join. Love the staff. they are constantly innovating and improving,both the structure of the school and its teachings. I can only hope to improve myself to the degree in which my daughter has been improved herself! Absolutely top notch school!

Rachel Ramsey Weir reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

We have had a great experience in the last year that our son has been attending 4GK. He has become more disciplined in his actions, his body has been strengthened and he knows the rewards of hard work. The dedication of the staff is evident in each class. It is clearly a labor of love!

Cheryl Anne reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

Fantastic staff !!!!!!!!!! Fantastic fun classes, they know you're name, they know how to make you work while you happily sweat toward a better you !

Katie Bacigalupo reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

LOVE the kick boxing class! It is such a great work out and fun at the same time! I always feel great afterwards and can't wait to get back to the next class!

Michelle McCann reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

Great atmosphere, awesome staff and incredible workout! Love it!!

Victoria Ingoglia reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

I absolutely love the atmosphere. It's clean, friendly n very challenging. I've given some awful dirty looks while stressed n I get high fives later. High intensity fire burning workouts keeps me motivated!!

Rebecca Manzella reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

4GK is excellent! I signed up my son for Basic Skillz just a few weeks after his 4th birthday. He loves coming to class to see his fellow ninjas and I really enjoy watching him learn new skills. In a short time, I had already noticed a behavior improvement while in a group setting and the two half hour classes a week are perfect for his attention span. Thank you Miss Heidi and the rest of the staff for your patience and influence on Neil.

Dawn-Marie Francois reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

The school is great!!! Classes are manageable and they push you to do your best. Staff is friendly and patient.

Frank Gil reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

I wanted to make a change in my life. I was stagnant, not active and unhappy honestly. One day my brother and friend convinced me to take a class at 4gk. That was years ago and thousands of punches and kicks ago and I love it every bit now as I did that first class. The instructors are amazing, knowledgeable, and were always willing to work with me at my level. I've spent a lot of time here and find no matter how my day has been I can't help but smile when I walk through the 4gk doors. It's a great environment for people who want to challange themselves and grow and there is no place else I'd rather be

Roseann Wander Walsh reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

I absolutely love it there. Everyone is very welcoming and make you feel very comfortable. I've done kickboxing at several other place and all the people there were very clicky I am very comfortable here and would recommend it to everyone.

Kimberly Lago reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

My oldest daughter has been coming here for a year. We fell in love immediately after seeing how wonderful the staff is with working with children of all ages. My second daughter was dying to be in a class also. As soon as she turned 3 we gave it a try and she has blossomed. Seemingly shy I was curious to see how her first class type activity would be. She loved it. Just waiting for daughter number three to be old enough because she is only two, but already feels like she belongs. We absolutely love it.

Shannon Marr reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

I love this place. Everyone is super friendly and makes you feel like a part of the family. I get constant encouragement to keep going. And when I had sprained my ankle and couldn't come for awhile, they worked with me financially and kept sending me encouraging messages to take it easy and get better. I get the best work outs and never any judgements.

Leianne Marques reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

4GK is an awesome school. The entire staff treats you like family. I take the kickboxing and skillz fit classes. The encouragement and motivation you get from the instructors makes you feel like you can achieve your goals, do anything you want, even if your first instinct is to say no when they all you to do something. I accomplish something in every class and have learned to think yes I can instead of there is no way I can.... the instructors break things down so you can easily understand each move. Everyone is made to feel important and special in each class, no one is left out. I can't imagine going anywhere else.

Linda Cummings reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

We just started the mini skillz program a couple of months ago. I admit, after being in the free play, no rules music program for the entire spring, my 2 yr old granddaughter was starting to rebel against listening. The first day of class I was almost in tears after five minutes when I realized how bad her behavior had gotten without structure. I'm so glad I stuck it out though. The second class was a joy, with her listening intently and using her brain. Miss Heidi has the patience of a saint. She is also on top of age appropriate skills and stresses them at each class. We've learned taking turns, following direction, jumping, kicking and punching, and many, many other useful things. She loves going to her class twice a week and I truly love taking her. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend these wonderful people and this fantastic school to anyone.

Danielle Hulse Maloney reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

My two sons have been coming here since December 2016. They absolutely love it & have THRIVED since coming! The older one suffers from anxiety & general fear, he has since built up tremendous confidence & has learned to verbalize any issues he may be having. The younger one is a ball of energy that needed direction & a release, he has achieved focus & better listening skills. The staff is AMAZING! They are welcoming, accommodating & listen to any issues you have whether it be with them, the class or your children. I could go to any of them & speak with them about ANYTHING & feel very comfortable doing so. Si Fu teaches the class in a low-key, fun manner that has the children engaged AND having fun at the same time, it's not the typical militant style. We received a military discount since my husband is a former marine AND ... They run a monthly themed Parents Night Out that gives parents a break without their kids from 7:30-10:00! I am thrilled that we found them & highly suggest to anybody looking for a martial arts school to check them out!

Yaoska Fleming reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

Great team! My daughter loves the school. She has learned so much since she started a year ago. I am so happy I found this place. I am so grateful for Ms. Heidi, Sifu Mike and all the team. Their love and dedication is shown in every class. Good job!!

Neil Manzella reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

I highly recommend 4GK to anyone considering Martial Arts for their children or themselves. The staff has been doing an amazing job with my 4 year old son. He has a safe and fun outlet for some of his endless energy supply and the staff do a great job keeping all of the students involved, active, and engaged in the classes activities. My son loves it and looks forward to it every week!

Christina Annessa reviewed 4GK Martial Arts
5
via Facebook

We just started a month ago and my kids are in love & can't get enough of it. Everyday they ask do they have class. Its great for all ages and I really like that they split them up. My daughter is 5 and is learning age appropriate skills while in the next class my 8 year is learning different things. The staff is super friendly and always accommodates our needs. I absolutely love the fun nights they do as well, the kids get to hang out & have fun while I get to relax a bit a home. Overall very satisfied with this program.

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Nail Pulls Nail – How Hot Tea and Hotter Peppers Changed a Life

During the 1990-91 school year, I had the privilege of spending a year as a Rotary Exchange student in Samsun, Turkey. My time spent there is still written clearly in my mind’s eye, and many of the things I experienced while learning to be both an American ambassador and a local Turkish boy were very formative.

One lesson, however, stuck with me and has not only gotten me through some tough times, but has led to some interesting adventures. This lesson can be summed up in the axiom, “Çivi çiviyi çeker,” which translates as, “Nail pulls nail.” I learned this phrase in the very literal heat of the moment, and fortunately, the memory of that moment is much more fondly remembered than it was experienced.

Turkish food, to this day, is one of my guilty pleasures. I could eat Turkish food every single day of the week. While I lived in Samsun and travelled to the surrounding areas, I was exposed to the many wonderful flavors, aromas, and textures of Turkish cuisine, each more resplendent than the last. From lahmacun to Turkish ice cream, chicken breast pudding to Turkish tea, and everything in between, I was in gastronomic heaven. (On a side note, while in Turkey I also had my first exposure to Tae Kwon Do and played around with various grappling arts, for which the Turks are famously prodigious.)

One item, however, was to prove too much for me to handle: the Turkish peppers.

As it turns out, there are two varieties of Turkish pepper, sweet and hot, but I have never yet learned how to distinguish between them, other than to bite them. As a Rotary exchange student, part of my responsibility was to travel and get to know the people while serving as an example of the friendly American.

On one such jaunt, I was a guest at a dinner party. Upon seeing my love of their culinary offerings, one of the other guests offered me some of the peppers from his garden. It being rude to have said no, I heartily bit into the first bright green fruit of death.

The pain that engulfed my mouth, lips, throat, and assorted mucous membranes still sends a paradoxical shiver down my spine. Upon seeing my discomfort, my host said the only cure for the pain was “Çivi çiviyi çeker.” At this point, my understanding of the Turkish language was rudimentary at best, and I understood only that he had a cure for the burn. I took what I assumed was the sweet pepper he offered and crammed it into my inflamed mouth. No sooner had I taken a bite than I realized that this pepper was even hotter! Nail pulls nail, only something worse than the original pain can help us forget that pain.

I spent much of the next hour in the rest room, with my tongue held firmly under the faucet, the cool water helping to mask, if not remove the pain.  My host and I shared a good laugh afterwards, and become quite good friends for the remainder of the party.

So, how does this moment of lingual distress translate to a life-altering outlook?

We can look at our own lives, and realize that we have many moments that are painful. Often, in order to ease our pain we resort to more pleasurable, even hedonistic, endeavors that mask the negativity of certain experiences and emotions. But this does not remove the pain, it only makes us forget it for a time, and often ends up being more self destructive than anything.

As the Buddha has said, life is suffering. In order to remove that suffering, we should not mask it, but we must cut our attachment to it.

As it turns out, one way we can do this by finding worse suffering. At first, this may seem ludicrous; why would we want to add to our pain? This is a selfish question. We are not the center of creation, we are but a small infinitesimal piece of the greater whole that constitutes Life (notice the capitalization). We must relinquish our attachment to ourselves and look wider.

So, let it be a given that in searching for greater pain we must search not within, but without. If you have a home, a job, decent health, a few bucks in your pocket, you are easily within the top 1% of the world’s wealthiest people. (Check out the Global Rich List to see where you fall). There are those around us who live in poverty, who have no healthcare, who live with mental and physical injuries (especially during our age of global warfare, traumatic brain injury, and PTSD). There are those who have had their hearts broken or their spirits shattered. There are survivors of abuse, and people who have just fallen into a short period of ill fortune. There is always someone worse off than we are. Seeing them, however, is not enough. We must experience their pain if we are to forget our own.

Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

In turning to compassion, we learn how to empathize with another living being. We do not just see their burden, we share it. We take a moment to realize that we are not victims of our own suffering, but heroes to those who need help. Many hands make light work, and by sharing the pains of another, even if just by giving a sincere smile to the homeless guy on the street corner, we make the load lighter for those around us. And when we can see a positive transformation in the life of another, we are more easily able to realize that not only was our pain not so bad to begin with, but that there is truly hope that the suffering — our suffering — can be removed once we remove our attachment to it.

No pain is so great that there is not a greater pain to be found. “Çivi çiviyi çeker.” It is “the hair of the dog,” it is “there but for the grace of God go I,” it is a reminder that, all things considered, things really aren’t as bad as we thought after all.

And now that we have taken the opportunity to open our eyes and hearts to those around us, let us, as the Turks do, share some tea as I leave you with this last bit of wisdom gleaned during my time in the Levant. It is a piece of a poem by philosopher and poet Yunus Emre, and I apologize in advance for my rough translation as it has been many years since I have spoken Turkish:

Gelin tanış olalım
İşi kolay kılalım
Sevelim sevilelim
Dünya kimseye kalmaz!

Come, let us get acquainted
Let us do business easily
Let us love and be loved
The world remains to no one!

Be well, friends, and may your peppers be ever sweet, your tea fresh, and your lessons easily learned.


Michael-EvansMichael Evans has been training in the martial arts since childhood, and holds a 6th degree Black Sash under his Sifu, Moises Arocho.  Michael is the co-owner and head instructor at 4GK Martial Arts in Patchogue, NY, and he serves as the Lead Consultant and for Skillz Worldwide.