Offering a Variety of Mixed Martial Arts

Offering a Variety of Mixed Martial Arts

Kaizen MMA opens new location in Old Town Fairfax.

While students and instructors look on, cutting the ribbon are (from left) Chris Bruno, Tara Borwey, Najim Wali, Catherine Read and Nima Mazhari.

While students and instructors look on, cutting the ribbon are (from left) Chris Bruno, Tara Borwey, Najim Wali, Catherine Read and Nima Mazhari.

In Japanese, the word “kaizen” is derived from “kai,” an action that improves something, and “zen,” which means a benefit. Together, they refer to a continual, daily effort to make the whole system better.

That’s the purpose and philosophy of Kaizen MMA – that all the small improvements made during each mixed martial arts class will result in outstanding accomplishments by its students. And it recently opened its newest location at 3950 University Drive, next to Old Dominion Pizza, in Old Town Fairfax.

However, Kaizen MMA is no stranger to Fairfax City. It first opened here on Pickett Road in 2009, then moved to Fairfax Circle before coming to its new home downtown. “I like this location because there’s more foot traffic and it’s in the heart of the City,” said owner Najim Wali. “And there’s also great parking in the nearby [free] parking garage.”

Both males and females are welcome, whether they want to learn self-defense, get in shape, lose weight or just have fun while adding some physical exercise to their day. Classes include Muay Thai (kickboxing), Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling, boxing and Enshin karate (converting defense into offense).

“About 150 adults and 150 kids currently take classes here,” said Wali. “We have individual classes in each specialty, but our focus is a mix of all of them because MMA [mixed martial arts] is the closest to actual, real-life combat. And a good amount of women take classes here for both self-defense and exercise.”

Kaizen has five locations in Northern Virginia and 10 instructors at this one in Fairfax, including husband-and-wife senseis (teachers), Nima and Ruby Mazhari. And although there are other martial-arts studios people could choose to attend, Wali believes his program will provide them the best overall benefits.

“Our instructors are very high-level, professional athletes who have been on world-competition stages, so their experience is world class,” he explained. “And if you go to a gym, you just get a workout. Here, you get a workout and learn something, too.”

Attendees at Kaizen MMA’s recent ribbon cutting included Fairfax Mayor Catherine Read, Economic Development Director Chris Bruno, Old Town Fairfax Business Association Executive Director Tess Rollins, and Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce Chairman Doug Church. Beginning the ceremony was Fairfax City Economic Development’s Programs Manager Tara Borwey, who said, “I’m incredibly excited to welcome this business today.”

Read called Kaizen unique because “they’re not new to the City – they have been here for 15 years. They’ve moved to several different locations, including this one, and I want to say thank you for choosing to stay in the City of Fairfax.”

Gesturing toward the inside of the building where young students were dressed and ready for a training session, she told Wali, “We value businesses like yours and the investment you’ve made in your business, in this City and in these young people – who will be forever imprinted with what you’re teaching them.”

Read also praised Kaizen’s after-school and summer-camp programs, saying, “These are the things that help both the children and the parents in this area to have someplace to send their children that is safe and that is teaching them skills that they will use for the rest of their lives.”

“I can’t say enough about businesses like this,” she continued. “They have five locations and they’re obviously doing incredibly well in the 25 years they’ve been in business. They have a proven business model, and there are a lot of things these young people may forget, but they will not forget what they have learned here.” These things, said Read, are “the discipline, the focus, the camaraderie, the self-esteem and the confidence that they get from being here every day.”

Addressing the crowd next was Wali. “Yes, it’s been 15 years in Fairfax, but it does feel new,” he said. “It feels great to be here – I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I’m very happy to be in the City of Fairfax. Every move I’ve made proves even more to me that this was the right location in the right city.”

Also pleased with his chosen profession, he said, “Martial arts changed my life and my world, and I’m happy to be able to give people something they need. First and foremost, my sensei Nima Mazhari has always been with me, guiding me and walking the way with me, so thank you for that. I’m sure he’s happy about this new location, too. And of course, thank you to his wife Ruby who’s been a part of this journey from the beginning, as well.”

Wali then acknowledged his staff, saying, “None of this would have been possible without the effort they put into the students. And now, come in, take off your shoes and walk on the mats – and, hopefully, we’ll get you some memberships.”

For information about class times, prices and other details, go to or call 703-426-KICK.