Martin Ashtons Martial Arts Academy, Middlesbrough, UK
Martin Ashtion's Martial Arts was set up by Martin Ashton 5th Dan Wado Ryu, a former kick boxer and point fighter. Ashton saw fit to turn a pass time into a living. Classes consist of a mixed stand up style using techniques from, Karate, kickboxing, muay thai and various other striking arts. Large emphsis on childrens classes provide most of the profit for the club. There is a veritable rainbow of grades through which to ascend to black belt. Curriculum is "rolling" so that everyone learns the same "range of techniques" every month with a grading at the end of each month which awards the passer with a stripe of electrical tape. After acheveing 3 stripes a new belt is given. This means many students aquire a new belt ever 3 months, keeping the students happy.
There is no sparring, besides a point fighting session once a week. Martin ashton keeps the type of training "evolving" meaning if something proves unpopular its pulled from the lesson. Sparring proved unpopular was removed the majority of training sessions.
There are pads for executing various hand and foot strikes. Medicine balls and weapons used in kids classes.
The gym is on top of second floor factory building quite long yet narrow main hall. Matts are thin and provide no cushioning for takedowns or throws.
There is one instructor and typically 20 or more students which means one to one instruction proves difficult.
The atmosphere is always very friendly and members are always willing to help each other out. Chidlrens classes can tend to get out of control, especially beginners classes which are used as a daycare center for parents who want an hour alone
Techniques consist of hand strkes, kicks, knees, elbows, and headbutts. The range of techniques covered is fairly comprehensive. Emphasis is placed on repition and form, although most techniques are practiced as combinantions. Combinantion are thrown at pads in a dead fashion. There is little timing movement or resistance, the combinantion which there are alot of in the syllabus have become akin to kata.
Grappling has been taught sporadically with outside BJJ instructors being brought in. While the instruction is good these classes are unpopular and are removed after a few weeks.
Childrens classes take up the bulk of the time table, being divided into 3 different skill/age groups 4-7 Beginners 7-10 Black belt club 10-14 Master club. Uniforms are expensive and most be purchased with sparring gear costing upward of £70. Martin Ashton has introduced XMA into the curriculum with forms and weapon work, costing more for parents. Sparring is point based, as with adult classes self defence routines are unrealistic and lack any sort of alive training. Children are never failed as Ashton found this caused trouble with parents.