Move over yoga studios, a different approach to body movement is coming to town. By the end of December, newlyweds Andres Pico, 39, and Irene King, 38, are opening Budokon Academy Charlotte at 2935 Griffith St. in South End, in the same block as The Suffolk Punch and Triple C Brewing Co.
Created by Charlotte-raised Cameron Shayne in 2001, Budokon is a mixed movement arts system based out of Miami that focuses on practices in the fields of mobility, martial arts, yoga, calisthenics and animal locomotion. Yoga is a big part of the practice, with more animalistic postures incorporated like “spinning monkey” and “cobra roll.”
The Japanese-based word “Budokon” means “the way of the warrior spirit.”
While Budokon Academy Charlotte will be the city’s first Budokon program, Pico’s name might already be familiar to you. For 20 years, he was a chef, most recently at Customshop, before he opted to focus on yoga.
“I decided to hang the knives (up) and just dive into the yoga world,” said Pico.
He stumbled across Budokon methods online while trying to deepen his yoga practice.
“It’s a personal growth that I seek,” he said. ” …It’s just evolved tremendously since I started Budokon.”
Pico, a certified yoga teacher with a red belt sensei certification in Budokon, will be the academy manager and lead instructor in Charlotte. The 5,400-square-foot academy space will hold two studio rooms, locker rooms, retail space and a juice bar.
Ultimately, there will be classes for all five types of Budokon movement, as well as a separate kids’ animal locomotion program. Classes will be about 45 minutes to an hour, with two to three classes in the mornings and three to four evening classes. Music and posture demonstrations will be integrated into the classes.
While King will continue working as a full-time lawyer at her law firm, King Collaborative Family Law, she’ll be teaching Budokon-infused vinyasa yoga classes. She became a certified yoga instructor in 2013.
“It really helped me create space in my life, and balance,” King said of her yoga practice.
Plus, she said, “I’m a mediator, so I’m a peacemaker by trade.”
After she and Pico met in 2015, they started practicing yoga together.
“That really evolved into a significant part of our relationship,” King said.
But Budokon is Pico’s method for exploring himself.
“On the mind side it’s a bit more about who we are as people, a little more realistic approach to who you are as a human being,” he said.
A gateway into Budokon study is the Budokon Yoga Primary Series, which is divided into seven sections focusing on improving mobility, agility, flexibility and strength. The animal locomotion fits into that series, prompting practitioners to explore the movements that preceded human evolution.
“It’s really a beautiful thing to explore that,” Pico said.
“Here it is the NATURAL INSTINCT and here is CONTROL. You are to combine the two in harmony. If you have one to the extreme, you’ll be very unscientific; if you have the other to the extreme, you become all of a sudden a mechanical man, no longer a human being. So, it’s a successful combination of both, therefore it’s not only pure naturallness or un-naturallness. The ideal is unnatural naturallness or natural un-naturallness” ☯️ ~ Bruce Lee
Once Budokon Academy Charlotte opens its studio doors, Pico said, he wants students to walk out feeling inspired.
He said, “I want to give someone the ability to be like, ‘Wow I can move like that.'”
Photos: Irene King, Katie Toussaint