Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Looking for a Gym - First Review

Last night I went to the first gym on my list for a trial class. I had high hopes... Only to have them dashed on the rocks.

I headed to Premier Martial Arts for a tour and a little talk with the head instructor. They have a very nice facility, with many rooms for different types of training. They had a great bag room with lots of Thai style heavy bags, a large mat area for BJJ and kickboxing classes, a regulation size boxing ring, and two smaller rooms with mats for private instruction. They also had a large mat in an upper floor that they plan to make in to a fitness room with cardio equipment, and weights. I was impressed with the facility.

It was time for class, so I wrapped my hands and got ready to work out.

The class was about 20 people... I noticed right off that the average student was very young. I mean YOUNG, perhaps 13 or maybe 12 year olds. I don't mind kids training, but not with adults, especially not with me. There were some adults in the room too, but not very many. Red flags started to go up.

We began with a simple warm up, jumping back and forth, side to side. I don't mind this kind of warm up, I would have preferred some shadow boxing, or burpees, or something like that, but I have done the skipping rope without the rope thing before. We then started to do 180 degree turns... This I really didn't understand, but when in Rome. We rounded out the warm up with some basic Thai stretches (on one knee lean forward, drop the hips and try to bring your of the knee that is down to your butt. Lean back and stretch the hamstring of the knee that is not down.) and some push-ups and we went in to the main room for the class to start.

We spread out on the floor and started doing some punch combos on command. Started with a jab cross combo, then added the hook, then another cross to round it out. We were then told to get a partner.

With a partner, we were supposed to throw either a jab or a cross, depending on which hand our partner had up. Red flags got raised a little higher... We were going to do pad work by catching other's punches with our hands. After the punch was thrown we were supposed to move in the direction of the punch, so after a right hand move to your right after the left hand move to the left. Red flags went to full staff, and alarms started going off. Typically you NEVER circle in to the power of your opponent. You play right in to where the bad guys want you to go, closer to the appendage that can knock you out.

My first partner was a teenager, wearing board shorts, a T-shirt and a black belt... This is when I learned that if you are a child, and reach black belt, you can join the adult classes. Anyway, he wanted to catch my punches and so I started throwing light punches in to his hands... I realized very quickly that they did not punch very hard, so I had to dial back my dialed back punches.
We were told to get new partners, a little girl, not more than 13 years old and weighing about 90lbs said that she was next. She also had a black belt around her waist. It was a complete joke. The next combo involved throwing a jab-cross-hook combo then moving in to your opponents power. I had trouble throwing the combo, because it felt so WRONG. Little girl then started to try and give advice. I am not opposed to feedback. If you see something shout it out. Little girl was trying to tell me how to move in to the power. Little girl did not have a clue. She thought she was bad ass.

Finally we moved in to drill that involved kicks. My next partner was a black belt about my own age, but out weighed me by 20lbs or so. His movement was OK, I could throw a bit harder. The combo again had us moving in to the power of our opponent. I just couldn't stand it.

A few more combos and the class was done. I got a good sweat going, but it wasn't anything that really made me tired. The fitness level of the other students was different. One of the guys looked like he was going to throw up. I am not in any type of fighting shape, but really this wasn't a hard work out. I very much doubt the members of the class could handle very many rounds of decent sparing.

Class was over and it was time to talk money and my interest in joining with the head instructor and his wife/business manager. I asked some simple questions, but wasn't pleased with the answers.
First, when and in what org did you get your Texas Kickboxing tile from? This question was dodged with him saying that he didn't remember what org, and that it was a while ago. Riiiiiiiiight.
Next question, where did you get your BJJ purple belt? The Machado brothers was his response. Follow up was at their academy or and affiliate? Their academy. Wich brother did you train with? All of them. Riiiiiiight. I decided to drop this line of questioning.
Next question are there always so many children in class? Yes. They are our black belts so they can handle themselves. Are they involved in sparing? Yes. They are good fighters. Do you hit each other in sparing? No, we like to emphasize control. Riiiiiight.

At this point I was done. This is not the right place for me. I want to get smacked around a little bit in sparring, and I didn't see any room for growth for me training with children. I don't mind training with people smaller with me, or even teenagers, IF the proper pads are used in training. I can unload in to Thai pads with little regard for who is holding the pads. The holder of said pads just needs to know how to take the kicks and punches, and with a little practice anybody can do it. These guys were training by catching punches. Not only can you not unload in to the other person's hands, you are left attempting to pull you punches. Not a good way to train, and certainly not a way to get a good work out.

I thanked them for the intro class, but said that I would not be joining their school. They asked me why, I simply stated that I didn't think that their school was the right fit for me.

That was it. I left disappointed, but mostly angry that these charlatans are making bank off of teaching improper techniques, not building fitness, and generally calling what they do kickboxing when it is little more than point karate with boxing gloves.

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