Madison, New Jersey- South Mountain Martial Arts
When I first saw this club, I was a little suspicious. It offers instruction in Judo, Sambo, Fencing, Kempo, and Boxing, so I wasn't sure if there would be quality instruction in a particular area. My meeting with the head instructor went well, and after watching a judo practice I decided to try a free class. I looked up the head instructor's credentials and found that he was a former international competitor in Sambo and 6th Dan Judoka. He also had impressive credentials in fencing, but I was only concerned with grappling. My first judo class was very humbling. Not only was most of the class made up of older black belts and a brown belts, but the members were physically imposing as well. The instructor was a bit more informal than my past judo instructors, but when we began warmups he was down to business. After a rigorous warm up, we did newaza randori for about 30 minutes. The older members were very helpful, and seemed less concerned about steam rolling me and more concerned about bringing me up to speed. After rolling, we went over some chokes and sweeps. We ran through the techniques with partners for 15 minutes before going into stand-up. We did uchi-komis for various techniques, and then Sensei demonstrated a throw that members asked for instruction in. Not only did he show the traditional execution, but went into depth about several variations of the throws and explained what body types might work with certain variations. He then had us run a drill with the throw until we were executing it with some success. We then went into randori. I got destroyed, but Sensei and the other members were very helpful in their advice and pointed out some mistakes I was making. After most of the members had fought to exhaustion, we watched sensei and 3 black belts pair off and continue for 2 more five minute sessions. I continued to practice at the club for the duration of the summer, and was very pleased. 115$/month gave me unlimited classes in any art, so I practiced in Judo, Sambo, and Boxing. The head instructor and his brother both have roughly 20 years of BJJ as well as their Judo background, so grappling courses were much more newaza-intense than my previous experience in judo. In judo practice, we went over leg locks, knee bars, and even neck cranks, and then had newaza randori using those techniques. We also did some no-gi rolling as one of the members was preparing for an MMA match. The club had a very friendly atmosphere, great instruction, and very skilled members. While there were other lower ranks for me to spar with, most classes had at least 40% black belts. Although I got thrown all over the place and submitted more ways than I thought possible, I learned a lot and had a blast. I would highly suggest the Judo and Sambo classes, and although I never tried fencing the instructor's students have very much success in competition. As far as boxing, the instruction was good but not on par with the grappling. The sparring was also not as intense, as the level of skill of the club members in striking was a bit lower (they were also quite a bit younger). But, if you want to practice Judo and Sambo with a heavy newaza-flavor, the price and level of instruction are both very good.