Central Combat Sports (Windsor, ON)
I have been to a few places in the past, and I am always reluctant to write a review for a couple reasons. In some cases you realize what you were learning was garbage later when you go to another gym, or in some cases you don't want to write a rather critical review of a gym you are going to or may be returning to because you want to stay on good terms. In this case I will probably not be returning only because this is where I trained in University, and I don't live anywhere nearby. This is a mostly glowing review, but it its how I honestly feel about the school, and based on objective categories that you have.
The classes are: kickboxing, boxing, submission grappling, mma, and youth mma. You can see the schedule here.
You can read the coaches biographies here.Coach Peter Zahran is the head coach of the school, and he teaches the kickboxing classes, and one of the two submission grappling classes, as well as the mma classes. His classes are very technical. The kickboxing classes begin with skipping, shadowboxing with light weights, and then usually whatever drills of attacks or counters that you could use in a fight. Sometimes we end with some boxing or kickboxing sparring. His mma and grappling classes always begin with some rolling or whatever you call ground fighting sparring. Then he will show a number of techniques to use in diffrent situations such as sweeps, getting the mount, submissions, etc. We then drill the techniques and then learn more, and drill again. Pete will roll with students and he can adjust his level of intensity to suit the skill level of the student he is rolling with. Although he has many competitive level students he took the time to roll with me several times and gave me plenty of feedback on how I was doing.
The boxing coach Cedric Benn is an Olympic boxing coach and also teaches at Windsor Amature boxing, and does personal training outside of Central. A friend of mine who knows Cedric has told me that he is one of the most driving forces behind Mary Spencer. If you don't know who she is, google "Mary Spencer Boxing". His classes have the same warmup as the kickboxing classes, then have different stations in the gym for different traditional boxing drills such as ladder drills, speedbag, double end bag, heavy bag, uppercut bag, and sparring. after that he has everyone lineup to learn some basic defense and attack.
I only saw Jason O'Neil, our wrestling coach, once a week in the summer when I attended. His classes taught takedowns and getting a dominant position. While other students had scrums and tried more advanced techniques, myself and another beginner level student drilled takedowns, and we had some drills with each other. I didn't attend his class often enough to write a detailed review of his coaching but he is nice and soft spoken guy with very technical instruction.
Assistant coach Jeremy Garrod had a morning mma class that I attended where he taught usually 3-5 people. It was good as he would help with specifics such as if there was a technique that I had a hard time getting.
While going to this school I know I improved my grappling because I went from being totally dominated to using techniques I learned in class to advance my position and sometimes get submissions. Most of the regulars there are quite skilled, but there are no divisions based on skill, aside from fighter only classes. Everyone trains together and improves together learning the same techniques. I have been to schools that were good at teaching fundamentals but not intermediate, and where there are gaps in teaching that make it hard to go from beginner to intermediate to advanced. If you want to get any level of sports combat training you can get it at Central. Plus, their rates are very reasonable, and they can work out a package that is right for you.
Aliveness: 8 - sparring standup with gloves, headgear, cup, shin/instep guards (kickboxing). Rolling on matts with cup. Wrestling on matts. If you tell Cedric you have some experience boxing or kickboxing, he will have you spar the first day!
Equipment: 7 - mostly new bags, clean mats (washed every day, I asked), skipping ropes, 2 lb weights, focus mitts, thai pads, bring your own gloves and personal protective equipment for hygiene reasons, but there are some gloves for those who haven't bought them yet. All basic boxing equipment including speed-bag, double end bag, and slip bag. There is, however, no ring.
Gym Size: 6 - Upstairs dedicated space in a gym. Membership is separate from gym membership. About 500 to 600 square feet.
Instructor Student Ratio: 8.5 - Our gym size matches our attendance. Usually evening classes are about 20 - 30 people, with one instructor and one assistant present. Every class I asked a question or got feedback from the coaches.
Atmosphere/Attitude: 9 - No drama, no egos, other students were friendly, and more advanced students were willing to grapple/spar, and share their knowledge.
Striking Instruction: 8 - Some students enter competitions. I am not sure the level of competition. All ranges were covered from outside to clinch, and often was assuming striking under an MMA rule-set.
Grappling Instruction: 10 - I am not 100% sure about this rating but I am reasonably sure that our top grapplers compete at about the highest levels. http://www.centralmma.com/?p=350
Weapons: N/A. We have foam swords for some sort of game that the children's classes had, I think. This is a sport focused gym, and fencing/ kendo are not included.
Here is a link to my school's main website: http://www.centralmma.com/