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Niche Market | Martial Arts Supplies

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Zaakyaa Young at Kinji San (Sarah Kate Kramer/WNYC)

New York is a city of specialists from foodies to academics, laborers to shopkeepers. Every Wednesday, Niche Market takes a peek inside a different specialty store and showcases the city's purists who have made an art out of selling one commodity. Slideshow below.

Kinji San
3010 Avenue M
Brooklyn, NY 11210

In the good old days, Kinji San vended nunchucks, butterfly knives and Chinese throwing stars. "Those were considered toys back then, they were dangerous toys but they were toys," recalled Doug Lee, who grew up surrounded by such wares in his father's martial arts supply shop in Midwood, Brooklyn. Now such goods are illegal in New York City, and Kinji San sticks to tamer jujitsu and judo gis (uniforms) and belts, specialized sparring gear like bo staffs and fighting fans, protective gear and martial arts videos.

Lee, who filled his father's shoes as owner eight years ago, is a local boy. Even though much of his business is conducted online and the majority of his customers — dojos, or martial arts schools who sell to their students — buy wholesale, he says he'll never move from the original location. Kinji San is now one of the oldest businesses on the block and has lasted through the neighborhood's demographic shifts, from predominantly Irish Catholic to heavily Orthodox Jewish. (Though the local dojo went out of business, there is "Fit-Yid" a kosher children's fitness center a block away from Kinji San.)

Lee’s parents melded their first names, Ken and Jean, into Kinji and added San — or "mountain" in Japanese — to name their upstart endeavor in 1974. Like old-school New York diners decorated with the black and white headshots of actor who frequent the joint, Kinji San's walls are a gallery of 20th century martial arts sub-culture heroes and instructors who supported the shop. Customer business cards dating back to the early 1990s are taped to the counter, mostly dojos in the New York area and private instructors.

The couple, who are Chinese-American, started the business as an "Oriental gift shop" but Ken was a martial arts fan and started selling the supplies a few years in. The first uniforms sold like wildfire, and ultimately the gear replaced all the other merchandise. The entrepreneurial Lees eventually launched their own brand, called Ronin. "A Ronin is a masterless Samurai, a warrior. A warrior or samurai that basically was not accepted among the karate dojos throughout feudal Japan and was a self-taught, self-made martial artist," Lee said.

New York City's peak as a mecca for martial arts was in the Bruce Lee era, the 1970s, but Lee said the growing popularity of Mixed Martial Arts, which has a major television presence is reinvigorating the sport, particularly Brazilian jujitsu. Lee called MMA the "chop suey" of martial arts — all of them combined.

Most of Lee's customers may be schools, but Kinji San's retail stop is a lifesaver for those who need to suit-up for a match — be it Tae Kwon Do, Judo or Kendo — last minute. On Saturday, Zakaa Young rushed over in a cab with his daughter Zaakyaa, 8, and son Zubee, 4, to purchase a brand-new gi for his daughter's karate tournament the next day. Martial arts is a "confidence builder" said Zakaa, who was excited to see his daughter, who started studying martial arts at the age of three, compete. Between trying on gis and demonstrating katas (karate forms) on the store floor, Zaakyaa said she had a disciplined regimen to prepare for the tournament. "I'm going to study, fight my dad and I think I'm going to stretch." 

Interview with Douglas Lee, owner of Kinji San Martial Arts Supplies

A lot of your business is done online and to a lot of wholesalers, so why do you bother keeping this Midwood store?

It's within ten minutes of where I live, number one. Number two, the rent is very low, we negotiated a very good lease with the landlord. Number three, the size of the building meets our needs...Another reason is we're well established here, we've been here for over 30 years now and there's a lot of customers that know us, whether they leave, they close their school, they always come back. We'll have people from the neighborhood here — the neighborhood's really changed over the last 15-20 years. We'll have people who used to live here and they'll drive by and say, 'Oh my god, Kinji San is still there, I remember coming in and buying the Chinese stars and nunchucks' — that was all legal, now that stuff's illegal. We don't have that stuff anymore. Those were considered toys back then, they were dangerous toys but they were toys. 

And there's a lot of history in the store. When it comes to martial arts I would say karate, in the 1960s and 1970s, New York City was known as the mecca of karate. Like the real serious karate guys in the tournament scene nationally were from New York. All the top guys, the heavy hitters were from New York. And when we opened up in the 1970s a lot of the instructors were coming here, so now, a lot of these instructors have passed on, they're not around anymore, certain instructors such as Peter Urban, Thomas LaPuppet, Moses Powell, Professor Vee, the list goes on, they have instructors that they've groomed who were so passionate about the martial arts that they decided to open their own schools up. They have their students now and it keeps going on.

What's the most important thing in this business?

The most important thing in this business, I would say, is to show up, make sure you're here on time, be nice to the customers and make sure you pay your bills to your vendors (laughs).

Sarah Kate Kramer/WNYC
Sarah Kate Kramer/WNYC
Sarah Kate Kramer/WNYC
Zaakyaa Young at Kinji San
Sarah Kate Kramer/WNYC
Sarah Kate Kramer/WNYC
Sarah Kate Kramer/WNYC
Sarah Kate Kramer/WNYC
Douglas Lee, owner of Kinji San
Sarah Kate Kramer/WNYC
Zaakyaa Young at Kinji San
Sarah Kate Kramer/WNYC
Customers at Kinji San: Zakaa, Zaakyaa, and Zubee
Sarah Kate Kramer/WNYC
Sarah Kate Kramer/WNYC
Sarah Kate Kramer/WNYC

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Comments [18]

muhammad ishaq from sialkot

Dear sir/madam,

We are the manufacturers and exporters of martial arts especially karate uniform, judo uniform
Ninja uniform, taekwondo uniform, kungfu uniform, hapkido uniform, and regular belts, stripe belts, economy belts especial belts embroidery belts etc.
We have a vast arrangement in this field with advance machinery and skilled manpower. We delivered any quantity order within desired period with high quality at least prices. You can visit our web site: www.mahammac.com if you are interested in any item, please let’s know without any hesitation.
We are looking forward to serve you with your order.

Thanking you with best regards,

Ishaq


May. 14 2014 09:12 AM
Arbbros International from Pakistan

ATTN: MERCHANDISE DEPARTMENT

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Awaiting your prompt reply and response, we remain, dear sir.
Thanks and Regards
M.Afzal Bhatti
Arbbros International
Nawan Pind, P.O. Chitti Sheikhan,
Sialkot-51310. Pakistan.
Cell: 0345-6685168
E-mail: export@arbbros.com

Feb. 26 2014 11:07 AM
Jason Wright from USA

Thanks for sharing to promote martial arts.Look your best with a new karate or <a href="http://www.amas.net/uniforms">martial arts uniforms</a> gi come in many styles and weights: student, middleweight and heavyweight also Available in complete sets as well as separates.

Sep. 13 2013 11:00 AM
Muhammad Iqbal Butt

Hi Sirs

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.
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The Great Master of Sports
Phone No: 92-300-9617191
Address: 33/123 Pala SHah Gate, Mohallah Dharowal Sialkot Pakistan

Sep. 01 2013 10:49 AM
Mohsan Alam from Pakistan

Dear Sir,
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we are waiting for your response
Best Regards,
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www.bikerswears.com

info@bikerswears.com
ONLINE:
</FONT¼9?SP;< DIV>
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May. 25 2013 03:42 AM
Tehreem B Corporation from pakistan

Dear Sir/Madam,

I hope you are fine and hope this E mail will find you well and prosperous business,

We are introduce our selves as Manufacturers and Exporters all Kind of Martial Arts Uniforms, Boxing , & MMA Accessories T Shirts & Sports Wear since last many years in Sialkot Pakistan.We invite you welcome to visit our web site www.tehreembco.com and inform us about your interested products.I hope you will like our Products quality. Quality control and quick service is our MOTTO. Please give us one chance and look our Products Quality with very good Prices.

We can supply all products with your Logo/Lable.

If you have any sugestation about our web site and Products than please inform us.

We are looking forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.

Best regards.

Mazhar Hussain
Chief Executive

Tehreem B Corporation
P.O.Box # 1116 Nishat park
Paris Road Sialkot-Pakistan
Web: www.tehreembco.com
E mail: info@tehreembco.com
Mobile:+92-(0) 300-618 3229

Mar. 12 2013 10:26 AM
suleman from pakistan

Dear Sir / Madam,

We hope this e-mail finds you well and in good health.
We are manufacturer of Martial Art Products from Sialkot Pakistan.
We have been manufacturing complete range of Martial Art products since last two decades.
WE make All products in Martial Art Range, Gears and Wears ( Boxing, Karate, Tae Kwando, Judo,
Grappling,Vale Tudo, MMA, Ninja, Hapkido, Escrima, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, etc.)

We produce quality products at very Competitive prices with best and fast service.
All our customers are enjoying business with us and happy with our quality.

If you have any inquire or demand, please let us know, you can show us picture or counter sample, or
even sketches to produce sample and we would be very happy to make samples for you.

Keenly waiting for your positive response.
Kindest Regards
Sheikh suleman javed
Carry sogo martial art
K. S. C , Railway road
Sialkot 51310
Pakistan
Phone 0092-524-593612
Fax.0092-524-586467
Cell0092-300-9611629
Cell 0092-322-7320320
info@sogoboxing.com
carry.sogo@gmail.com
www.sogoboxing.com
skype mrsogo

Jan. 31 2013 05:18 AM
Arslan Tahir from sialkot Pakistan

Dear Sir,

We are approaching you with the information that we manufacture all articles related to the Martial Arts and supply to our customers abroad.

We give the facility to our customers to produce according to their own specifications / designs and Brand Names.

Our prices are very attractive so that the customers could compete their market very easily. You may view our webpage www.azfaimpex.com wherein we have displayed most of the items.

We can also furnish the samples for evaluation if the customers advise us by providing their own specific Advance samples either physically Original Or scanned pictures through email attachment.

We hope you will consider our offer and allow us to entertain you according to your present day requirements as you advise us.

With best regards

Arslan Tahir

AZFA IMPEX

19-452 Wazirpura

SIALKOT-51310

Pakistan

Dec. 11 2012 08:36 AM
khizran sheikh

Dear Sir,



Thapur a name in the Martial arts Industry is known to every body,Who was the first in 1971 to produce the Judo Fabric in Pakistan,
We are in Manufacturing of Martial Arts Uniforms and Boxing Gears since 1971.

With the Great experience of Manufacturing of Uniforms of Judo,Karate Kungfu,Ninja,Ju-Jitsu specially in Brazilian way(also in gold weave and pearl weave ) and other related articles with the professional expertise and working experience with the famous brands of Europe as well of USA and Canada

We are also Dealing with the Mix Martial Arts products and selling the big grappling companies in the world according to their needs and requirements Like UFC,KOTC and Pride are the name in our profile,



JUDO:

With the Experience we have developed the best quality fabrics and Materials,Like we have Range of Judo Fabrics Starting from 300g and the heaviest we have is 1200g which full fill the requirement of student to the professional,

We have also worked on the competitive prices to compete the Market



Karate



We have also developed many fabrics for Karate to compete the Market and also for the professional like 14 and 18 oz canvas uniforms stitched traditional style karate which have the guarantee of quality and price,We have developed the Polly cotton Canvas heavy Weight With Great features,





So what ever the price Range you are interested we have the product,


Please contact us for our new range which can also see on our website www.thapurgroup.com


We do make all custom made articles according to your size specs and fabric specifications,



Please don't hesitate to contact us for the pricing and sample information's,


Awaiting your positive Reply


With warm Regards
Khizran Sheikh
Your Real Source of Martial Arts

Thapur Pakistan PVT LTD

NEW pearl Building Maharaja Road Sialkot Pakistan

PH:92 524 588437,4591572
Fax:92 524 589055
Email:info@thapurgroup.com,
export@thapurgroup.com
web:www.thapurgroup.com

Nov. 08 2012 03:42 AM
Usman BAig from Sialkok

Dear Sir/ Madam,

Hope you are fine and doing all well.

Here we would like to introduce our company Marub Enterprises , As a manufacturer of the Sports goods, martials arts accessories & uniforms, we assure quality oriented products with economy, we knows you are buying these goods so give us a chance to serve you.

The same way we want to develop strong business relations with your company. so we hope you will check our workmanship once at least.

We can customize your existing products or develop any new artwork for you, so please for further details visit our web site, www.marub.biz

further if there shall be any questions than please you may ask freely,

Hoping for your news soon,

warm regards,

Mirza Usman Baig
www.marub.biz
info@marub.biz
0092-333-8691085

Aug. 11 2012 09:18 AM
H.Shahid from sialkot pakistan

Dear Sir/Madam,

We are surfing on the internet we have come across to you.

Its our pleasure to introduce ourselves as Manufacturer & Exporters of Leather Jackets, Gloves, Lederhosen, Boxing items, Sportswears.

Our mission is to supply the super quality products according to the customer requirements.

If you would like to see the products or you want contact our company, please visit our website: www.tradegoldint.com

Waiting your early positive response...

Regards,

H.Shahid Iqbal

TRADE GOLD INTERNATIONAL

Email: info@tradegoldint.com , Sales@tradegoldint.com

Tel: 0092-52-3256844
Mob: 0092-346-6757920
Fax: 0092-52-3551244

Factory Address: Mohall Kingra Near Union Council, Adalat Garrah Ugoki Road, Sialkot-51310 Pakistan.

Jun. 11 2012 03:21 AM
Shakil Bhatti from Sialkot Pakistan

Sir,

we are real producer of Martial Arts Gear, for more information visit us www.hsigear.com and let us know your feedback and future buying plan.Thanks.

Best Regards
Nabil Bhatti

Apr. 27 2012 02:45 PM
Tehreem B Corporation from Sialkot

Dear Sir, (QUALITY IS OUR PROMISE & YOUR SATISFACTION IS OUR STRENGTH)

We hope you are fine,

We are introduce our selves as Manufacturers and Exporters all kind of Martial Arts Uniforms,T Shirts,Boxing MMA & Fitness Equipments ,since last many years in Sialkot Pakistan. We invite you please welcome to visit our web site. www.tehreembco.com If you have any question about any products or required any products than please inform us by E mail.

Quality control and quick service is our MOTTO. Please give us one chance to provide a good quality.

(we can supply the products with your Logo.)

We are looking forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship.

Thanks and best regards

Mazhar Hussain
Chief Executive

Tehreem B Corporation
P.O.BOX # 1116 Nishat Park Paris Road
Sialkot 51310 Pakistan.
E mail. info@tehreembco.com
Email. tehreembcorporation@yahoo.com
Website. www.tehreembco.com
Tell: 0092- 52- 459 3229
Mobile. 0092-300-618 3229

Mar. 15 2012 06:50 AM
Los Angeles MMA from Los Angeles

Great example of how to hang in there and run a business. Good luck to him.

<a href="http://www.ChingasosMMA.com ">Los Angeles MMA </a>

Feb. 09 2012 02:39 PM
Ismael Aguilar from Sunset Park, Brooklyn

Kinji San is a great store and Doug and his darling mom Jean are just great people. The store is literally part of the history of New York Martial arts for the last 30 years or so. So many places that I use to visit in my youth are gone and are but faded memories. It's wonderful that Kinji San is still here and that it still provides the very best in martial arts products and services.

Jan. 13 2012 12:04 PM
Yasir Rashid Ghuman from brooklyn

Dear Sir/Madam
Have a Good Day
We are one of the leading suppliers of all kinds of Martial Arts
Uniforms & Equipment. If you are looking for a Professional, Reliable
supplier for long term business relationship, you can try us.we with
the best workmenship convert the imagination of our customer into
real products .We Guarrantee highest level of Functionality ,Quality
& Performance. You must check our Quality and give us one chance for
providing you Something real & best Quality We are specialized in
the following items
(1)Martial arts uniforms
(2)Boxing Gloves
(3)Boxing Equipment
(4)sports wears
(5)Accessories
our aim is to provide the best quality products to our customers at
very reasonable prices because we beleive in 'Quality more than
Quantity. if you have further inquiries please feel free and contact
with us in this regard

Web Site www.crescentmartialarts.com
E_Mail Address: info@crescentmartialarts.com
ph:office +92-52-3574840
Toor Abad Daska Road
Sialkot-51310
Office in U.S.A
CONTACT PERSON=YASIR GHUMMAN
Brooklyn new york
E_MAIL =crescentmartialarts@gmail.com
CELL= 6462431277

Dec. 04 2011 12:46 PM
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Nov. 25 2011 05:02 AM
Dixie

I remember outfitting my now grown girls with their karate gi outfits from Kinji San. We live in Virginia and it was well worth the trip to Brooklyn. Some institutions remain a part of childhood memories. Thanks Lee family for keeping the lights on!

Nov. 17 2011 09:10 AM

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