Odawa Judo Club (Ottawa, Canada)
Hey folks! I based my ratings on the guidelines posted here:
RATING AND YOU - READ THIS BEFORE POSTING YOUR REVIEW - No BS MMA and Martial Arts
I've been attending Odawa Judo for a few months now. I'm not a Judo expert (I'm just a yellow belt) but I've done a bit of JJJ and BJJ in the past and I've also attended a variety of other MMA and Muay Thai schools so all of this is influencing my ratings. Right off the bat you should know that this is an officially registered non-profit community club affiliated with Judo Ontario and Judo Canada; the dojo space (a very large church basement) and all the equipment is donated. The head instructor is a black belt with 40 years of competitive Judo experience and he's also a nationally certified level 2 Judo coach. Because it's a non-profit club, it only costs 25$/month! There's no commitment and no contracts; everyone pays by cash or cheque month to month. The only other cost involved is a Judo Ontario membership for insurance purposes.
I give it a 10 because, for those who are interested, we do full contact ne waza randori (ground fighting sparring) and/or full contact tachi waza randori in shiai style (sparring from the standup position with tournament-style rules) at every training session. The only safety equipment involved are the mats.
I give it a 7. The only equipment we use are mats; they aren't brand new but they are of good quality, they are all clean and none of them have any rips or tears or anything else that would make them risky. They were a donation from the Trillium Foundation and are the same mats you would find at any Judo shiai (tournament). Other than the mats, the club will happily lend clean used gis (uniforms) to any new students who don't have their own. The only catch is that students have to clean them after their training and bring them back to the next class. (Seems pretty reasonable!) The gis are donated by current and former club members as well as judokas from commercial schools around town. If a student wants their own permanent gi but they can't afford to buy a new one, the club can sell them one of the used gis for 25$. (Most of them are good quality double weave gis.)
I give it a 8. The club runs out of donated space; training happens in the VERY LARGE basement of the Knox Presbyterian Church on Elgin street. Not only is it very large but it's also brightly lit and very clean. There are separate changing rooms for men and women, complete with toilets, urinals, sinks and showers. The buiding itself is old so the change rooms aren't modern but they're definitely clean and have everything you need. The club has enough space and enough mats to accomodate very large groups. No one ever bumps into anyone else while rolling around and it would be pretty easy to have to full shiai (tournament) areas set up in that one basement.
I give it a 10. Every class is led by the head instructor who is a black belt with 40 years of competitive Judo experience and who is also a nationally certified level 2 Judo coach. He has been a Judo Ontario board/committee member for over 10 years and he's also a certified Judo referee. During every class, every student gets personalized attention from the instructor. The head instructor also brings in guest instructors or guest sempais (assistant instructors / head students) from other clubs from time to time; these are usually very experienced black belt instructors or brown belt and black belt competitors. Class sizes are very small so every student gest personal attention at every class.
I give it a 10. There's a very welcoming, family-like atmosphere at this club. There's a wide range of ages but everyone gets along. There are no meat head douchebags. I'd say that everyone is easy-going while still taking it seriously and that most people can quickly get into competitive mode to prepare for tournaments but they do so in a supportive way. Parents of the younger students and significant others of the older students generally watch classes while chatting and snacking together. Everyone helps to put away the mats after every class. People carpool to tournaments together. It's very welcoming and, especially because it's a non-profit club intended to serve the community, it's open to everyone.
I'm giving it a 1 because Bullshido doesn't have a "not applicable" option. Judo does not include striking so there is not striking training in these courses.
I'm giving it a 9 because attending tournaments and getting pretty decent results is fairly common for this club. (We recently sent 5 members to a tournament and came back with 5 medals; 4 silver and 1 gold.) Members of the club attend tournaments everywhere between Toronto and Montreal and even in the northern parts of the US. I didn't give it a 10 because I'm too new to know how the club does at the national level and I don't believe anyone from the club has made it to the Olympics. That being said, I know that at least one member was part of the junior national team when he was younger. (FYI: Competing and attending tournament is encouraged but certainly not mandatory.)
Again, I'm giving it a 1 because Bullshido doesn't have a "not applicable" option. Judo does not train with weapons.
Getting in touch with Odawa Judo Club:
(The Facebook page is more up to date than the website.)
A few other thoughts . . .
I can't emphasize this enough: It's only 25$/month!
Right now, the membership base is very small because the club doesn't advertise at all. On the one hand, this is a good thing because class sizes are small and we all get very personalized attention. On the other hand, if a few people skip class one evening, that means that there might only be a few kids with a bunch of adults or a few adults with a bunch of kids. In my opinion, that's a chicken/egg type of problem that will easily disappear as the club acquires more members so, in the meantime, if you know anyone that would like to try martial arts at a very affordable price, please let them know about this place because, since the club doesn't advertise, it's very unlikely that they'll find out about it on their own.
Like I mentioned before, this is a registered non-profit club that serves the community. If you have any equipment you'd like to donate to the club, the club can give you a receipt for tax purposes. Ditto if you wanted to sponsor the club; donated money would probably be spent on renting a van and paying for gas in order for students to attend an out-of-town tournament together, or it would be spent on upgrading the mats if/when the time comes.