Updated review of Goldsmith Kung Fu
I’ll post an update on this school based on 6 months training here. Background is primarily in TKD, so some of this needs to be taken with a grain of salt. However, most of it is based on the descriptions provided in the sticky, so I'm not afraid to put down my opinion based upon that.
One quick note – we’re moving in the next 2 months to a ~4,000 sq ft facility with a half cage, full weight set, MT bags, equipment shop, and lots of other goodies, so I will update once we get there. Also, updated fighter page (updated with SifuJason's link). For now:
Aliveness: 7.5: We vary between 4 and 8 here. At the end of every class, we devote 20-30 minutes to sparring between 4 and 6, depending on our comfort level. Every other Sunday, we go 1 hour of hard contact, while supervised by our pro fighter coach, with 16 oz gloves, mouth guard, groin guard, and shin pads, under modified amateur MMA rules (no elbows, knees to body only, kicks to head need to be pulled). 90% of the time is catering towards low-contact instruction sparring, with 10% for the fighters that want to stress test what they learned.
Equipment: 7: We’ve got a large set of well-maintained but used training gear (kicking shields, hitting Bobs and water-weight punching bags, kicking pads, punching mitts, Muay Thai pads) as well as a community set of used sparring equipment (16/8 oz gloves, shin pads). We expect beginners to pick up basic equipment after about a month. Note: In our new facility, we’re going to have a whole new set of training equipment and a half-sized cage – at that point, the nearest equivalent to our new setup would be in Charlotte.
Gym Size: 6: This is probably a weak point until we move – afterwards, I’m anticipating an 8. For now, during big classes we can’t all roll/spar at the same time. I’d say bout 50-70% of the time there is plenty of space, however.
Instructor/Student Ratio: 7.5: 10-25 students for 1 overseeing instructor, with a median at about 15. There’s always either several senior students or non-teaching instructors helping class out.
Atmosphere/Attitude: 9: Awesome. Can’t go over how awesome, friendly, mature, quirky, fun, and great my training partners are. For instance, a relatively nonthreatening Jewish MD PhD candidate will chat with me before class about end-game raiding on a MMO, then shortly after submit/beat me down (somewhat gently) in class, then go off to lab to finish off his dissertation. These guys are really cool and generally extremely supportive, pushing each other not to puff up egos but to further our understanding of martial arts and improve our physical conditioning. Did I mention we’re probably the least sexist and most family-friendly MMA gym in about a 100 mile radius? I’m a bit biased here because I love fellow fighters with geeky roots, but I think we rule in this aspect.
Striking Instruction: 8.5: It’s a Kajukenbo school headed by instructors that have had to use their training in serious self-defense situations. I can’t say their nationally known for their art (maybe, I just don’t know), but I can say that at one point in the last 3 months the head instructor destroyed a reigning heavyweight MMA champion of a nearby country with 20+ wins under his title belt in a very hard contact, minimally protected sparring match. The instruction is starting to show in our Fight Team, and some are using the striking at this school as a platform to go pro.
Grappling Instruction: 6.5: We do very well at local competitions with help from a great BJJ coach. We train a little over 1/3 of our total time on our ground game. I think, however, that it would be unfair and incorrect to say that we’ve got the grappling skills of a BJJ-focused school. Perhaps if we count ground and pound MMA style I would say this should move to a 7, but from a purely BJJ perspective, we are not as strong here as in our striking.
Weapons: 6: We focus primarily on stick and knife fighting. To spar, we use Action Flexes with our typical standup striking sparring setup. There’s definitely been some blood, as the harder Action Flexes can most certainly break skin, but I wouldn’t say that blood is a regular occurrence. We’re not sparring with live blades at any point, based on my experience. Overall, our setup here is not compete (yet) but to set up elementary defenses against armed attackers. Our instructor probably should be competing in this, but I would say the rest of the group’s skill level has not gotten to that point.
Best target martial artists: I think we're best with 3 groups of martial artists. If you're a hobbyist that wants to get a relatively full-spectrum self-defense martial arts experience without getting beaten up, we're great. If you want your family to train in an environment that is friendly but varied enough to challenge each member appropriately, we do that well. Finally, if you want to someday get in the cage, as an amateur (my camp in the coming months) or eventually to go pro, we're a great launch point.
I'm a noob here (obviously) - if my description doesn't match the rating, please feel free to message me/post and let me know.