Hyland Hills Judo Club, Westminster, CO
Official site: http://www.hylandhillsjudo.org/
I first was brought to the attention of Hyland Hills while looking for schools in my area and using the Dojo Locator on the Judo FAQ/Primer. Seeing the price ($65/month) and the relatively close location to my apartment, I decided to visit the school.
To be succinct, I was duly impressed with what I watched, and am even more so now that I've begun attending. This is an excellent school in terms of grappling and aliveness, which a large set of equipment and a fairly large mat space.
Note: The dojo itself apparently teaches Tomiko Aikido and a form of Jujitsu. As I have neither attended these classes, nor seen them or their instructors (Coach Kari only teaches Judo, the primary focus of the school), these ratings only reflect the Judo classes.
Competition Judo with a very heavy emphasis on competition. Randori every class, usually distinguished by focusing on tachiwaza, newaza, or both; randori rotates between students, to give you practice with a large variety of people.
School comes with a large set of (unbleached) judogis for new students to use; excellent condition, though somewhat worn and used; workout room is somewhat small but with a very large amount of free weights and machines.
Mat is two full competition sized rings, with two horizontal rows of tatami separating them; I think I counted it to be about the length of 10 by 4 tatami; workout room is functional, though a bit small (some machines are outside the workout room in the main lobby); seating area for guests outside the main mat, with four rows of 8 seats.
Instructor/Student Ratio: 8
One coach (Kari Gabrielle, 4th dan), but a small amount of students (on average, my classes have about 6-7 participants including myself; the children classes are slightly larger); coach is attentive to all students.
The atmosphere is excellent; all of the students are very willing to work with new students, while still allowing them to pressure-test their technique on a non-compliant partner; so far, it is a rather ego-free environment as well.
Grappling Instruction: 9
Coach Kari is an excellent instructor with outstanding technique and good teaching methods; the school actively participates and does respectably well in both local (Colorado) and national (most recently the Pan Am Championships and South American International Championships in Late November/Early December) Judo competitions.
Other: This is heavily competition oriented judo, with the students actively participating in a variety of judo competitions. Because of this, classes tend to focus on the correct application of a few techniques, and seem to equally focused on newaza and tachiwaza. Every classes includes randorifor 30-45 minutes. The students are also allowed to continue doing randori after the class ends, should their schedule allow it. For these reasons (among others listed in the specific ratings sections), I find this to be an excellent school. However, I would NOT suggest this school for any student wishing to learn judo in a more traditional sense; the judo classes do NOT include kata, and the focus is on performance of individual techniques and tactics, not on learning all of the techniques within the judo curriculum (all of this is very much in line with what I read on the Judo FAQ/Primer located here on Bullshido). I WOULD suggest this school for someone wishing to learn competitive Judo in the Broomfield/Westminster/Arvada (and even Boulder) area, as well as those looking for well-priced martial arts school in the area.