Edmonton, Alberta -- Arashi-Do Martial Arts
If you're not interested in combat sport, then definitely stay away from this school. For those who are interested in combat sport, and maybe want to compete, this is certainly one of the better schools to choose from.
Mike Yackulic runs the north side dojo (which is the address I supplied in this review). He's an active competitor, having competed in events such as Maximum Fighting Championship and KOTC, so he's quite knowledgeable about fighting in the ring and the cage. He's also a member and coach of Sniper Competition Team, the competition team of Arashi-Do. He holds a black belt in Shotokan karate as well as a purple belt from Franco-Behring BJJ.
Depending on the time and day, you'll either be trained by Mike or Chris (who regularly runs the south side dojo -- check their website for this address). Mike runs the MMA/Shoot wrestling/BJJ class every Monday to Thursday from 1:30 pm to 3 pm. These classes are a bit smaller than the evening classes, so you'll be sure to get a lot of individualized coaching. On Mondays and Wednesdays, Mike's at the north side dojo teaching children's karate and children's BJJ from 5:30 pm to about 7:30 pm. From 7:30 pm until 9:30 pm, it is the adult shoot wrestling/BJJ class. During the evenings on these days at the south side dojo, Chris is there to teach the karate class (combined kid/adult) followed by the Muay Thai classes. According to their schedule, there seems to be more emphasis on Muay Thai instructions than karate instructions.
On the evenings of Tuesdays and Thursdays, Mike and Chris switch places. Mike provides BJJ/Shoot wrestling instructions to the south side students while Chris provides karate/Muay Thai instructions to the north side students. They also have weekend open mat sessions. The open mat is on Saturday from 12 pm - 2 pm at the north dojo and on Sunday from 2 pm - 4 pm at the south dojo. I would say that their website is not always up-to-date, so don't quote me on the exact times when certain classes are suppose to take place. It would be wise to call up the dojo and ask for their times and classes (as I've found out when I dropped by, after not attending for a month, that they've changed their afternoon training times at the north location).
The focus of the instruction will differ depending on which location you choose to train at. The students at the north dojo seem more interested in learning to fight. So if you want to improve on your game for competition, I would recommend hanging out at the north dojo more often (and also take advantage of their early afternoon classes). The students at the south dojo seem more interested in learning self-defense. So if you want to "train for the streets," I guess the south side is where you should hang out. Nonetheless, the quality of instruction and training method is no different just because of what the students want to do with their training.
Both dojos are well equipped for the job, although the north dojo has better mats than the south dojo. The south dojo is lined with jigsaw mats, whereas the north dojo has judo mats. There's probably a reason why the north dojo is more competition oriented than the south dojo. The south dojo does have a small weight room (with a few cardio machines). The south location is more spacious than the north location though. Often times, a ring (or a cage) can be set up at the south location without sacrificing much training space, whereas this isn't the case with the north location. Both locations have a wall climbing facility as well as a supply store.
Although they don't advertise themselves as a martial arts supply store (either in the phone book or openly), they do carry quite a number of martial arts training gear for sale. They seem to always sell their gears cheaper than the local martial arts supply retailers. They don't carry top brand-name gears (such as Sprawl or TapOut), but they do carry a lot of smaller brands that does the job just as well as the pricier brand names (but I'll save that for the product review). I got the majority of my training gears from Arashi-Do and will most likely seek them out for any future purchases of gears.
For $70/month (at least according to some of the students), you can train at both dojos and come to any class (and stay as long as the dojo is open). Arashi-Do also has drop-in pricing, especially for those, like me, who can't make it in on a regular basis. The price of drop-in is $10, which is actually good for the entire day and for both locations (if you just happen to have an entire day off and want to train for the whole day). The catch is that you have to pay $100 for a 10-stamp punch card. It's still a good investment though, considering that there is no expiry date on the punch cards, so you don't have to feel rushed in using up all your sessions in a certain period of time.
The perks of being a regular student there is that you get discounts on seminars hosted by Arashi-Do. Also, you have the privilege of trying out for the Sniper Competition Team. In fact, if you want to compete for Arashi-Do, you have to pass their try-outs (whether you are competing pro or amateur; in MMA, submission wrestling, BJJ, or kickboxing/Muay Thai). Also, if you become a member of their BJJ class, you will have to pay a fee ($40/year) to be part of the Franco-Behring association; however, this gives you privilege to train at any other Franco-Behring schools in Canada. Another privilege is the discount on Franco-Behring seminars. Lastly you'll get to sport the Franco-Behring patch on your gi. :)
If it weren't for my ever changing work schedule, I would definitely pay the monthly fee and train there every chance I get. It doesn't matter which dojo you go to for you'll see and train with a lot of familiar faces (a lot of students trains at both dojos, despite the differences in instructional focus). The students seems to want to help you out whether you are a regular or an absolute beginner. No matter how busy it could get (albeit a rare occassion), the instructor seems to find a way to get around to everyone and help out every student. Don't expect the instructor to glance at you once and be ignored the rest of the class; that's just not going to happen.