Fukuoka, Japan - Paraestra Hakata
Paraestra Hakata is a small Shooto and BJJ dojo under Yuki Nakai's Paraestra organisation.
The dojo is small and minimally equipped, however a better atmosphere and more dedicated group is difficult to find.
Located in the Hakata area of Fukuoka, Japan, classes are offered all day and night, every day and night. What is even more amazing is that there are only two instructors, and they both teach all day every day.
Classes are split into BJJ or Shooto. As the dojo is just one large matted room, there is an invisible line separating the two training areas.
The BJJ teacher is Kenshi Tomari, certified as a black belt under Yuki Nakai, and who now regularly travels to Brazil to train with Leo Vieira and the Brasa team. Tomari-sensei has competed in the Worlds, although with no medal success just yet, but he competes every year. He is enthusiastic, friendly, and skilled. What's more, he is more than willing to practice his smattering of English (and Portuguese) to help us foreigners understand what he is teaching.
Tomari-sensei's style is to begin the classes with the usual BJJ warm up drills, then move onto technique, then drills, then sparring. Often, classes are simply warm-up and then sparring, depending on the students attending. Classes continue late into the night, with the last starting at around 10pm.
Competitions are regular and encouraged. Before competition times, "special" training occurs late at night, involving a much harder level of contact, circuit training, and drills.
Ueno-sensei is the Shooto instructor. He has had some success at professional Shooto (MMA) in Japan. Classes are flexible, depending who is attending, but cover striking, no-gi grappling, and a combination of the two (MMA). Classes consist of a warm up specific to the class - for striking lessons, shadowboxing. For grappling lessons, a selection of wrestling warm ups. For striking, the class progresses to some limited sparring (punches only, or kicks only, or certain combinations only) then moving on to full sparring (with pads.)For grappling, wrestling takedowns are practiced (single / double legs, ankle picks, etc.), then some drills, and then sparring. MMA classes depend on who is attending... The higher the skill level, the more likely the lesson will be just sparring.
On Sundays there is a beginner's BJJ class, combined with a kids class. Both BJJ and Shooto accept beginners any time of the year.
There is a small contingent of foreigners who train at the academy. Despite us all being lanky, smelly bastards, we generally get treated pretty well. What's more, if you start competing, you'll bump into foreigners from other schools and gradually build up quite a good network of contacts.
The atmosphere is very friendly and hard-working (as you would imagine from a Japanese school.)
There are at least 2 professional Shooto fighters who make occasional appearances there for training.
A member of the gym recently took second place in an amateur shooto competition (and has performed very well in the past) and thus got upgraded to a professional Shooto license. This opportunity is open to anyone who trains hard enough to achieve it.
In summary, Paraestra is a bare bones academy that offers a friendly and close-knit, family-like atmosphere combined with the crazy Japanese work-ethic that means hard training, every single day.
On a personal note, once you get accepted intto the "gang", they really know how to throw a party... Last weekend I went, as the only foreigner, to a big party. Ended up in a hostess bar with the sensei and some other students, man what a night! Poor guy had to get up and teach BJJ early the next morning though, hahaha.
Bullshido members can PM me if they are passing through the area for directions and an introduction.