Martial Arts Center for Health: Altamonte/Orlando
As the name implies, this school is focused more on the health benefits of training in martial arts. If you're looking for a place to learn how to kick ass maybe you should look elsewhere but if you just want a light workout to stay active then check them out.
They teach both hard and soft styles. The main styles taught are Kung Fu, Bagua, Tai Chi and Qigong. They mix in some harder more linear styles that they call Kong Su but it is actually Tae Kwon Do.
Belt ranking are done a bit differently here than other schools. They do not use colored belts or sashes but rather they have "sections". Everyone starts out as a white belt, as you earn your next belt they dye a portion of your belt black. The first new belt you get would make you a first section, the second time you rank up you will be a second section and so forth up to 6th section. 1st degree black belt comes after 6th section and that is when your belt is completely black.
Beginning students start out with Kong Su, Tai chi and Kung Fu. You dont start getting into much Bagua until you get first or second section. The Qigong was taught on Friday evening and every Saturday morning was Tai Chi. This schedule or curriculum may have changed. It has been a few years since I practiced there.
A typical class starts out with 20 minutes of warm up calisthenic excercises and breathing techniques then 30 minutes of forms and application training, followed by 20 minutes of self defense, Aikido type of locks and judo throws and falls. I really enjoyed doing forms and it was fun for me to learn new ones.
My only real complaint about this place is unless you sign a long term contract, you can never advance past 2nd section. They call it their "foundation training". A contract is not required and you can continue to develop what you know up to second section but to learn any of the more advanced techniques, I believe a year contract is required and they call this "Advance level training" When I went there I think they called it a "black Belt program". A good thing is they do not charge for a belt testing fee.
Aliveness - 3: Very little contact. The self defense portion of class was all compliant partner drills.
Equipment - 3: This was a nice clean facility but very little equipment. There were weapons and plenty of short staffs to go around but as far as bags or pads, there were none.
Gym size - 6: There is 2 training rooms. One in the front was decent enough size for the amount of student and the one in the back was smaller and used for the younger kid classes or for older students to use if they wanted to work on their forms or practice something without interrupting regular classes.
Instructor student ratio – 8: There was plenty of instructors to go around. Typically one instructor would work with the beginner students and 2 or 3 other instructors would work with the higher ranked belts. During my time training there, all instructors were at least a 2nd degree black belt. The first degrees would step in to help on occasion or to teach the children’s class.
Atmosphere/Attitude – 8: Great team of instructors and very friendly students
Striking instruction – 5: I’m not sure how to grade this because they covered a wide variety of strikes but it was either against a compliant opponent or it was striking in the air at an imaginary target.
Grappling instruction – 3: There is no grappling, with the exception of self-defense techniques, such as wrist and other joint locks. All self-defense drills were applied against a compliant opponent with limited resistance.
Weapons – 3: Starting at around your second or third section you can start training with a short staff and then long staff. All weapon training was preset encounters or forms.
Overall I would consider this place a bit above average. I trained there for a couple years and I was pleased with my training. One of the reasons I left was because I moved across town and it was no longer economical to drive there. Plus, I wanted to start learning something useful with more contact so i've taken up Muay Thai and submission grappling. I didnt like the year long contract and I will avoid those in the future.