Atlanta, GA - GT Shaolin-Do Kung Fu & Tai Chi Club
I participated in this club for two years in the kung-fu/external class, one in the tai-chi/internal, including summer sessions.
Style: It's Shaolin-Do, which means a deluge of material, most of which is inapplicable, none of which is taught consistently by every instructor, and all of which is more flash than function. That said, alot of it's quite fun, in a choregraphed way. Higher-level forms in particular are very acrobatic and physically demanding, especially the weapons (e.g. chain whip).
Location: It's taught in a hardwood studio, which means no throws with resistance, overly cautious sparring, and sore feet. The only advantage is you'll build some confidence in your balance after having to do acrobatic kicks off of a sweaty, slick floor.
Instructors: There aren't enough. Sifu Tremayne Brown, a fifth-degree black belt (last time I checked) leads the class, but there are usually only two assisting first- and second-degrees, none of whom ever seemed competent. Sifu Brown himself is one of the few highlights of my club experience - unlike the ego-heavy Atlanta "Senior Master" Gary Grooms, Brown's humble, aware of the problems of Shaolin-Do and respectful of other arts (he frequently invites other clubs to give demonstrations and encourages his students to give them a try), and very skilled at MA. If you hound him enough about a technique being useless, he's demonstrate it on you effectively with resistance, but this seems more a case of individual > style. Because of the ridiculous number of students for so few instructors, brown belts supervise and lead grounds of 3-6 students while the blackbelts circulate teaching new material. Getting to teach at brown was actually some of the most fun I had, especially since it allowed me to fix alot of what was lacking in my lowerbelt training.
Students: Too many, too out-of-shape and too overconfident. It's no surprise that drawing from Tech's nerdpool you'll end up with a bunch of ponytailed "I learned the secret of bushido from an anime" types, but you also end up with students who never participate in conditioning or lft their feet off the ground during kicks, students who ignore the safety considerations of the studio and enjoy beating the crap out of lowerbelts during sparring as though it makes them superior, and students who'll tell you you're doing everything wrong and they know the correct way regardless of what belt they're wearing.
Format: First, Tai Chi class goes through about ten minutes of yoga-esque posture conditioning, which was actually quite challenging though no one except for the instructors and already-fit students seemed able to do most of the poses. Then, the class divides into lowersash (Yang) and uppersash for the remainder of the period. Tremayne was great about teaching the subtle details of form in my experience, but this would get frustrating when the next week another instructor would contradict his instruction with something alot less sensible.
Kung-fu class begins with fifteen minutes of pushups, situps, squats, stances, etc. to warm-up. Occaisionally things would be switched up - maybe the entire class period would be conditioning, maybe Tremayne would do a static-workout. Then things divide into belts, where you'll spend most of your time waiting for an instructor to come around and answer questions, and then usually still be confused after receiving an answer.
Sparring was rare. Twice, maybe three times a semester.
After Kung-fu class, lowerbelts leave or practice and brown-belt class begins. Brown-belt class was considerably better than the rest of the program: each class begins with a long, intense workout - some of the toughest cardio I've done in my life. This was one of the few ways in which my experience of SD strayed from the McDojo pitfalls. Sifu Brown was obsessed with conditioning and endurance, especially static strength, which really paid off when I transitioned into MMA. Forms at this level also became notable more demanding, which much more acrobatic and complex movements, though also increasingly impractical. The advantage of learning these styles after such an intense workout is that they're encoded and become second-nature much quicker. In intense MMA sparring I still find myself reflexively pulling out some of these moves, and pulling them off successfully.
Overall, it's a good value given the low semester price you can get both classes at (if you're going to do it, do the tai-chi program too, since it'll do wonders for your form), but training at the Marietta center would give you a much better student-to-teacher experience. And, of course, only do Shaolin-Do if you want to dance and not fight.