Portsmouth, NH - Guy Chase Academy of Martial Arts
I came for the Muay Thai, I stayed for the Pencak Silat Mande Muda, Jeet Kune Do, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Karl Gotch Submission Wrestling, Savate, Kali Escrima and Panantuken.
Somehow Guru Guy Chase manages to cram all of this into a well-organized weekly schedule so that no matter what you're into, there's plenty of time for you to train. Guy Chase Academy of Martial Arts exists in the middle of a local glut of shifty TKD studios and places marketing a vaguely defined mish-mash of "MMA" and "Vale Tudo" instruction. He's also been a full-time student of many of the people he's trained under. He was a long time live-in student of Dan Inosanto and an instructor at the Inosanto Academy. He was also full-time under Pendakar Herman Suwanda, Tuhans Ben Largusa and Mel Lopez, Lucky and Ted Lucaylucay, Salem Assli, Aldo Batista, and Karl Gotch. Since he worked directly under these guys, he's typically one or two generations away from the root of the system. This kind of instruction is very hard to find. Even rarer is it in the case where you can find it all in one place. It's decades of traveling around the world to learn from some of the very best all under one roof in a small gym in New Hampshire. I originally came to Guy Chase Academy to work out in his conditioning class and wound up sucked back into martial arts after years of being sidelined by a pretty severe back injury. Speaking of which, there's plenty of conditioning going on at GCAMA so if you're into just fitness, you can take part in just that with a punch card system. Either way, you do it during the grappling classes or you can drop in mid-week to make it happen then. The schedule is quite flexible.
On to the numbers:
Everyone wants to know about Aliveness, don't they? At Guy Chase Academy you're going to be doing a lot of pad drills in the stand-up arts. This is especially true in the case of Muay Thai. It's all gloves on, up and down the room with punch, kick, knee and elbow drills. The same goes for all the other striking arts. However, the old space used to be large enough to accomodate a regulation boxing ring, of which there was one, and advanced students in any class could request to spar. There's always someone up for sparring and you are most certainly likely to find someone who will spar to whatever degree of contact you want, hence the asterisk. Most of the time, however, you're going to be doing forms and drills. The grappling classes, however, are all live rolling. There's no shortage of time to discuss and demonstrate technique but the grappling classes don't skimp on the rolling. If you plan on training for an actual fight, and this is definitely an option to all students, you can expect to train extremely hard and spar frequently. You will also find yourself in shark tank/bull ring exercises.
There's a certain understanding that if you attend classes you're going to bring a bag full of the usual stuff you might be expected to bring. Gloves, wraps, mouth guard, uniform, gi, shin guards and headgear, etc. - This is all your responsibility but the gym is outfitted with plenty of pads, shields, heavy bags, etc. and with a few exceptions of pads and shields which have been losing stuffing for a little while, it's all in excellent shape is of a particularly high quality. In spite of the fact that a lot of the equipment in the gym takes a substantial pounding every day, it's all well-maintained.
Gym Size: 6
Guy Chase Academy is located in a pretty convenient spot and there's plenty of parking. For the most part, it's your average adequate gym spot. The floor is wide open and mats cover every surface. There are men and women's changing rooms also. There's a spot off to the side reserved for the heavy bags, BOBs, rings, tires, etc. - The gym is kept meticulously clean, too.
Instructor/Student Ratio: 7*
I hate to have to make another exception but the size of some classes, Muay Thai mostly - the most popular of the classes - make it impossible for Guru Guy to be directly involved with each student. He attends each class and is on the floor to coach everyone and correct technique where he can but the big crowded classes are run by his certified instructors made up of advanced students. These guys are awesome. They've all been around for years and each one has valuable knowledge to share. Now for the exception: some classes are not as popular as others and if you attend Silat or Kali then you get the sort of instruction that I would easily score a 10. In many cases, you could find yourself paired up with Guru Guy who is naturally gifted as a martial artist and an instructor.
The Academy's strongest quality is easily its students and the general attitude in the gym. Some personalities can be a little hard to crack but there isn't a dick among the bunch. Everyone in the Academy is supportive and helpful. The material found in the Gotch classes and Silat can sometimes be pretty intimidating but whenever there's a block, there's always someone there to be patient and coach you through it. Guy Chase Academy is the model martial arts school in this respect. Guru Guy often makes the claim that you can learn a lot at his school in a short amount of time and this is one of the reasons that that is true.
Striking/Grappling Instruction: 7
The rank for both of these categories is the same for the same reasons so I'm lumping them together. As I said above, Guru Guy is a rare martial artist in that he's learned most of the styles taught at the academy right from the people who are chiefly responsible for their creation and proliferation. He's also an excellent teacher who manages to break it all down into a way that is easily understood. As well as training schmos off the street like me, many of his students have fought on cards for Friday Night Fights and at Combat Zone events to varying degrees of success. Guru Guy has also coached pro UFC fighters and was a long time teacher of Mark Dellagrotte who took that knowledge as is now a striking coach with the UFC. Maybe you've heard of him. Bottom line: It's proven instruction and it's close to the source of the material and backed up with walls plastered with certifications and photos with the masters he's trained under. Guru Guy can be a bit flaky at times, however, and classes can sometimes be derailed by lengthy lectures on a related topic that winds off on tangents but this is not common. It's just a bit of a bummer when it does happen.
Weapons training is a fairly new thing. You used to have to request Kali, Krabi or Silat knife training and come in during a non-class period to train but Kali and Krabi have since been added to the schedule since one of Guro Dan Inosanto's Kali instructors moved out this way and now trains at The Academy. Like sparring, you can request it and there may be someone up for sparring but many of us are noobs when it comes to sticks and knives so finding someone to go all Dog Brothers with may be a bit of a challenge. In our early Krabi instruction, we were paired up, taught the fundamental striking moves and then instructed to go back and forth clashing sticks but recent Kali classes, teaching Villabrille-Largusa, have us going through some basic exercises and forms with no clashing or sparring. This will come in time but for the moment, the classes are mostly new guys with open spots on the schedule for students who'd like some one on one advanced instruction from Guru Guy.
More information is over here: http://www.guychase.tv