View Full Version : Sandy Hill Jiu-Jitsu (Ottawa, Canada)

2/09/2012 10:05am,
Hi folks! This review applies to Sandy Hill Jiu-Jitsu's adult program.

I based my ratings on the following guidelines:


Disclaimer 1: I want to stress that I'm writing this review with no ill intent towards the school / dojo or any of its students or instructors. Everyone was extremely friendly and dedicated. I'm posting this for two main reasons: 1. Because I feel like there's a few areas in which the school could improve and, since I wish them nothing success in the future, perhaps they'll consider some of this feedback. 2. Because, having done a bit of Jiu-Jitsu at other schools, I had a certain set of expectations that weren't met and I would want prospective students to know what type of training they can expect before signing up.

Disclaimer 2: I didn't go to this school very long so my review is based on what I saw and experienced during few months I was there. For example, when I say things like "no hadouken training", those statements are based on what I saw and experienced. I don't claim that no one ever does any hadoukens whatsoever (or that they never did and never will). I'm simply pointing out that, during my stint (Nov-Feb), I didn't see or experience any.

So here goes . . .

Aliveness: 1-3

1: No sparring/contact, performance demonstration/forms only.
2-3: Compliant partner drills, board breaking, point sparring

Judo throws and Jiu-Jitsu "come alongs" done with compliant partners. Fairly regularly, ukes were instructed to be more compliant in order for the toris to complete the moves being attempted, even during gradings / belt tests. I didn't experience or witness any rolling / grappling / ground fighting or Judo-style randori, nor any standup sparring or point fighting. (Some members occasionally engaged in light standup sparring / point fighting after class but this didn't appear to be a regular occurance, didn't appear to be part of the curriculum and didn't happen frequently / regularly.)

Equipment: 2-5

2-4: Bring your own.
5: Basic relevant essentials, may be heavily used.

There are blue mats (like from phys ed class in school) that tie together with velcro for throws. Anything that doesn't result in a throw is done on a typical gym floor. I saw a kicking shield but I never saw being used. There are a few pairs of foam "chops" (https://www.tigerclaw.com/sparmaster-chops-martial-arts-pr-6499.html ) but I also never saw them being used. The uniform (a black cotton gi) was free (included in the price of training).

Gym Size: 6-7

6: Actual dedicated commercial space, somewhat small but functional.
7: +2

It's a medium sized gym room (similar to a highschool gym) in a fairly modern community center. It's bright and clean. There's a free parking lot on site and there's free parking on nearby streets. There's a decent-sized change room with lockers and showers.

Instructor/Student Ratio: 4-7

4-5: Instructor opens class, senior students complete it.
6-7: large class but instructor is accessible and oversees most classes.

This was a bit odd at times. The head instructor is at class most of the time, and he leads the class in the sense that he determines what will be taught and when it gets taught, be he usually deferred to a black belt (or brown belt if no black belt was present) to lead the warmup and for most throws. The head instructor usually gave general instructions and feedback for throws (more hip, less back, no good, looks good) but demonstrations and applications of throws were generally delivered by black belts / brown belts. Apart from the aforementioned general feedback from the head instructor, specific corrections and coaching for breakfalls and throws was delivered by black belts / brown belts. The head instructor got more heavily / directly involved when we were doing "come alongs". Also, it wasn't always clear who was an instructor. At times, it seemed as though anyone with a black belt who was present would stand at the front of the room with the (presumed) regular instructors. Other times, there would be black belts from other schools who stood at the front of the class; sometimes they led the entire class, other times they followed along as students. Throughout my training here, it seemed like there was frequent rotation of (presumed) instructors and, when no black belts were in attendance, brown belts essentially filled the role. On many occasions, I couldn't tell if the person coaching/instructing me was an instructor, or if they were a guest instructor, or if they were a black belt / brown belt student who were simply trying to be helpful.

Atmosphere/Attitude: 6-7

6-7: Fairly impersonal, various cliques or noticeable drama.

People were generally very nice and no one was a douchebag (no cliques or real drama) but I noticed a few things that people might classify as atmosphere/attitude-related: I often heard higher-ranked students complain about a lack of rolling / grappling / ground fighting (of any kind) and about a lack of standup training and sparring. They also said that they were encouraged to sign up for local grappling and striking competitions but were never really coached / prepared to participate. I also heard higher-ranked students mention that gradings were often very lenient in order not to discourage students. (They hinted that correct form was often secondary to effort and general understanding.) I also witnessed instructors and higher-ranked students (who were assisting during a grading) arguing over the names of techniques that the students being graded had to accomplish, and how the techniques should/shouldn't be applied; they frequently consulted the curriculum booklet to settle the disagreement. Some students told me that they had offered to provide instruction/training/coaching in standup and grappling styles (they had credentials from elsewhere) after the official class but that they were usually given ambiguous responses.

Striking Instruction: 1-3

1-3: No striking.

I didn't see any striking being taught / practiced in the adult program. A guest instructor had us doing some basic kicking and punching in place to warm up once but I didn't see any formal training with targets, pads or opponents. Some of the students mentioned that some of the higher-ranked students participate in point sparring competitions but that they didn't really receive official training / coaching / preparation for this.

Grappling Instruction: 1-5

1-3: No grappling. Anti-grappling.
4-5: Limited single sub-range (standing, clinch, ground only).

Chokes/submissions from the ground and Judo throws were taught/practiced but never with resistance or an "alive" opponent (always with a compliant partner). I didn't witness or experience any randori / rolling / ground fighting. The higher-ranked students executed the throws and set up throws into submissions very well but I only ever saw them done on fully-compliant ukis or with very minimal resistance.

Weapons: N/A


I believe that some weapon defenses and taught / practiced but I didn't witness / experience any.

Anything Else?

The registration forms on the City of Ottawa website simply state that it's a Jiu-Jitsu program. The school's website alludes to a Can-Ryu / Ninja-Ryu lineage. The curriculum booklet states that the system is Oikiryu Jiu-Jitsu. (The logo on the cover page of the booklet is the same as the logo on the uniform.) Oikiryu has been discussed in this thread:


In light of what's been mentioned so far, I figured I'd throw in a bit of positive to balance thigns out.

The head instructor is very, VERY passionate about martial arts. He's enthusiastic, positive and loves what he's doing. Also, when he teaches you a technique (like a "come along" or a standing submission), you REALLY feel it. He obviously knows what he's doing in that respect. The holds are tight, painful (he'll immediately release when you tap) and totally bang-on. If you're applying pressure at the wrong place, he can tell from a distance and he can quickly correct you.

Despite some of the comments I mentioned above, I can't deny that the instructors and higher-ranked students are all VERY friendly, VERY welcoming and VERY eager to help / teach new students.

It's extremely affordable. You can see the pricing in the links below. The uniform is included in the price.

The kids program seems very popular. The gym is always packed, the kids always look like they're having a lot of fun, and the parents all look very satisfied with the program.

Contact, location and registration info:

School website: http://ecojja.net/

Registration info: http://www.ottawa.ca/en/rec_culture/class_activity/reg_mem/courses_available/rec_guide/index.html

2/10/2012 11:48pm,
Shame a guy with such enthusiasm for martial arts runs such a sub-par school. Thanks for the review, I'm also from Ottawa and there's a ton of good places to train judo and jiu-jitsu here. Try Takahashi for judo, or OAMA for BJJ.

2/12/2012 10:21am,
Thanks Lionbear! I used to do Muay Thai @ OAMA and I'm already looking into doing a trial at Takahashi! Do you practic Kyokushin with Sensei Laurier Goudreault?

2/17/2012 7:57pm,
I forgot to mention this in my review:

When learning / practicing techniques, we would usually only do them from one side. That is to say that if we learned a throw or a lock with our right hip / right arm, we weren't instructed to practice it with the left. It wasn't a requirement. Some of the students took the habit of doing so but they were sometimes instructed to stick to just one side.

2/21/2012 2:35pm,
FIT MMA now has a legit bjj blackbelt teaching there now. Renshi Pat Lavigne has returned to N1 Thai; he now offers gi classes in addition to no-gi. If you are looking for good striking and some weapons stuff too, N1 has it goin on.

3/05/2012 10:04am,
I meant to reply a while ago, my bad. I almost never use this site and my "style" section is a bit outdated; I'm not practicing kyokushin at this time but I was indeed with Sensei Laurier when I was.

I only have good things to say about his dojo (hard training, friendly people, no bullshit), but I left mainly because it was a bit lacking for a young and small person like myself looking for similarly young and small people to spar with, and the schedule and costs didn't fit my life too well. Neither of those things is something he can control, it's just how things ended up happening.