New York, NY - Shorei-kan Goju-Ryu/Sanchin-do Karate
The Shorei-kan group of New York City (the American headquarters of the style are an hour upstate in Peekskill) practices every Tuesday and Thursday at the Fighthouse in Chelsea, Manhattan. I have spent approximately nine months with the group (albeit with sporadic absences) and attained the rank of 8th kyu (white belt with 2 green stripes; there are a total of ten kyus and around eight dans IIRC).
The sensei is Charles Bentz, who has been teaching Goju for about 30 years. He's a good instructor with a sense of humor and seems to have a good handle on when to let students go at their own pace and when to push them to do better. He can be slightly gruff at times but is never mean or intimidating.
It is a small class, usually between four and ten students attending, with some attending nearly every class and others only showing up once in a while. There is a good mix of ranks among all the students I participated with, roughly equal for each major belt color (black, brown, green, white) although I was probably the youngest person there at 24, everyone else seemed to be mid/late 20s or (sometimes much) older. The other students all have great attitudes for the most part.
One gripe of sorts is the space - it's at the Fighthouse, which means practice takes place in a corner of a large room with at least a half dozen other such groups of varying styles practicing simultaneously right nearby. So space was sometimes an issue, and it was sometimes distracting to have all the other bodies around, although being able to see so many other styles practice prior to hitting the floor myself was cool.
Another admittedly minor gripe is the breadth of the instruction - while the core Goju techniques (baiscs, katas, kisos, kumite) are definitely focused upon, sensei makes a big deal about how Goju encompasses moves from everything else. While this is true, it boiled down to doing rolls about once every two or three practices, with weapons work or takedowns or sparring being even less common.
I appreciated the exposure to moves outside the traditional syllabus, but felt that it was almost wasted effort because there was no way to really learn any of the extra techniques due to the infrequency of their teaching. However, this is doubtless not unique to Goju or this particular group, so I don't fault sensei for it.
As listed the cost is $115/mo; there is a $45 yearly registration fee and a $20 testing fee, and you have to provide your own gi (~$20). Given New York's real estate and what I've seen of other schools in the area, this doesn't seem unreasonable to me.
I have recently decided to move on and seek other options, mostly due to a scheduling conflict that has come up lately, and a desire to try other styles. However, I have a lot of respect for the sensei and the other students, despite the relatively short time I've spent with them, and anyone looking for a very traditional Okinawan karate group to practice with would be well served by checking out NYC Shorei-kan.