Gracie Barra Scotland (Glasgow City Centre)
Hi, thought I'd use my Christmas Day off to post a review of the dojo I've been attending for just over a month. It may be quite early as I'm still a newbie there but I've been to several places over the years and this is the first place I feel the urge to recommend to others!
(No disrespect to my previous Sifu's intended, even the Chunner who belt fed me bull or exagerated war stories of bar fights and dressed it up as deadly WC SD and failed after I "sparred wrong" in my 2nd class).
The place is a Gracie Barra Dojo (Gracie Barra Scotland- http://www.graciebarrascotland.com/ ) and it is located in Battlefield Gym in Glasgow City Centre.
This is my first exposure to BJJ except for the drills contained in Tan Belt MCMAP syllabus, and to be honest as an armchair MMA fan I always thought BJJ was overated, until my first week of training, and I have become hooked, bought the curriculum DVD to study each day I am not at class, stole a Judo dummy from my work and even started rolling with bigger blokes in my Platoon who have been doing MMA for years, and even after just 1 month my small handful of BJJ techniques seem to work better for me than theirs does. So Aye I'm sold.
The Instructors name is Ricky Gillon, he is well known in Scotland in MMA circles as a coach and he is currently a Purple Belt. This is the first martial art I have studied where the class is taken by someone who is not a black belt, but he certainly knows the Fundamentals inside out, and is extremely approachable to a dumb ass cannon fodder like myself. He also sticks to the book when it comes to Self Defence applications to a technique, and doesn't dress it up with any stories or fantasies which is extremely refreshing these days. He is really encouraging and gives a lot of praise (if you are the type of person who needs constant reasurance) and to be honest 9/10 times I need a beating over the face instead of a well done as I am a slow learner.
To the review:
Aliveness: 4 Each class ends with 15-20 minutes rolling, some nights this is done with a partner who is on the same level as you, some nights you could be rolling with a blue belt despite having done only 4 classes! I surprised myself after my second time playing a game where the first one to gain the mount wins and stays on the mat, and through sheer determination and some ninja inspired rolls, lasted 3 rounds.
Equipment: 6 There isn't much required but the training area is matted throughout, and there are spare Gi's and belts for visitors/first timers to save them buying their own until they are commited to train which I think is a good thing as it makes the class more approachable to first timers. There are plenty of heavy bags, uppercut bags, a very decent weights room, and a studio to roll in after class is finished if the main arena is being used. The gear for the MT class is also available to use anytime you fancy sparring. There are several showers, a changing room, female facilities etc. There are also several heavy plant tyres to play with which was a welcome sight to a soldier! Students are also welcome to use all the facilites outside class whenever they feel as the dojo is open until late.
Gym Size: 7 The dojo is located underneath a railway arch and the matted arena is large enough for a full class to Roll without it turning into a gangbang. There is also a medium sized studio in the back to use if you wish (Krav Maga takes place there) or you could probably just go in there and do some dancing or somethin. As mentioned the weights room is decent with plenty of Kettlebells(there are lessons for that if you want), and is much better than the local council gym I use.
Instructor/Student Ratio: 7 Ricky has taken almost every class I have been on with the exception of 1 which was a revision of that weeks work and was taken by a senior Blue belt, who also did a great job. Blue belts sometimes take the warm up which is perfect acceptable and is no different to any other MA I have done. To be honest in a way, every student is an instructor in this place. There are always people to ask for guidance and if someone see's you drill something wrong, or can suggest something, they will stop their own drill to come over and correct you. This is not just done by seniors but I've even been encouraged to help out newer blokes, under the supervision of a senior. This creates an atmosphere I have only ever found in the Military where everyone is genuinely there to help each other grow. Which brings me onto the next score.
Atmosphere/Attitude: 8 Very open from the first moment I entered the door and was met by a huge Polish dude who was being put in a headlock by the receptionist. There are no airs or graces, every student is on first name terms with the instructor, but respect is still strong. As soon as you enter the Dojo area you are met by the positive atmosphere, lads rolling together with a circle of spectators who will give tips to someone if they are struggling, or just molest them if they are being wet. Everyone looks forward to next class, knows each others skillset inside out, looks out for each other and many socialise outside of class and welcome you to do the same.
Striking instruction: 3 Not really on the Fundementals programme but the instructor could recognise I came to BJJ from a striking background and he immediately demonstrated to me how I could bring in several striking techniques to the drill I was working on (this was on my introductory lesson). He also goes on about taking your BJJ further in the future to include other styles. A bit like telling you to find your own way once you have the tools he is giving you, as a JKD kid this got me quite hard.
Grappling Instruction: 9 I'm no expert in the range hence why I went to BJJ in the first place. But several students have won Gold and silver in competition and you even get to roll with the Instructor. I've also tried the first takedown I learned with a bloke wearing full PLCE and Osprey body armour, and it still worked, and I weigh 10 stone so I'm inclined to say it is applicable in a LE/Military context if you drill it correctly.
Weapons: Not Applicable to what I'm learning. I must say I'm naturally sceptable about any disarming/weapons stuff unless it is sparred in full PPE and at full speed and force, and I've not found anywhere in Glasgow which does this yet, if anyone local on here knows of such a place, please drop me a PM as I'm interested to try it, Ninjas need not apply.
Thats about it, if I've missed anything, or screwed this up, feel free to demonise me as I've had a few Bourbons today.
Merry Christmas troops.