Renzo Gracie Academy, Jiu-Jitsu New York,
Okay, first of all, I try to be as honest as possible but I might be biased since I trained at Renzos for 3 months 5 times a week, 3 times a day (some days more, a few days less). And I love this place!
First of all, the school is conveniently located, next to Pennstation/Madison square garden. You can take the 1,2,3 train or the Q,N,R,W if you don't mind a two block walk. And even if you come in with the green or blue line, commute is easy and fast.
Finding the school is a little bit different since it is located in the basement of an office building and there are no signs what so ever on the outside or in the building. So just talk to the nice guy at the entrance, he will point you the way past the elevators, down stairs.
Once you are there you will be in the entrance area. You have a view into the office, you have the "bar" and shop(mainly BJJ gear/appeal) and space to sit/hang out/relax/talk/wait for the next class.
To your right you have two "small" (in comparison to the main space, they are still big in general) mat spaces and a work out area (which is small yet fully equipped with everything up to stability balls and Kettlebells etc.). The mats and walls are completely patted. Such is the main space. Which is about 25x15 meter (how ever this translate into square feet) and tree/four times as big as the small spaces.
The locker rooms is also very big with 6 showers (separated), I don't know how big the ladies locker room is since I never went there ;)
The atmosphere on and off the mats is great, warm and welcoming. Aside from the meathead that comes in for the first or second time, I have never seen some ego on the mat and the trainers point out to the guys what is good and what not. Though don't think there is no good competiveness in the school, far from it.
Available programms/classes are: BJJ (Bluebelt,Purplebelt,Bleckbelt,No-Gi,Kids),SubmissionGrappling, MT(Beginner,Advance,Sparing),MMA(Sparring), Capoaira(Beginner,Advance), Privates in every of the aforementioned style at almost every time of the day/night.
For my ratings:
Aliveness - 10) You roll everyclass, and the MT/MMA people spar every day. The trainers and most of the students compete on a regular basis at every level (up to PanAms, UFC etc.).
Equipment - 8) Because if have never see them hang the heavybags (though they have them) and the school has no cage or ring. Other than that there is everything you can think of and the quality of the equipment is top of the line.
One thing I have to mention that realy stroke me the bad way, sometimes there is no hot water in the shower after 8pm, not everyday but frequent. I expect better from such a school.
Gymsize - 9) Only 9 for a simple reason, though the gym itself is huge, the amount of people training is even bigger. It can happen that you are asked to wait for the next class/not allowed to take a second class because the school is so packed. Same for the lockerrooms, they are huge but still it can get a little crowded and you have to wait for the showers.
Instructor/Student ratio - 9) Simply because when the classes are packed even three instructors per class are bussy. But usually you have one instructor overseeing three pairs of students and pointing out mistakes or just being available for questions through out the complete class and afterwards.
Atmosphere/Attitude - 10) You get greated by the teachers when you come into the accademy, you get a handshake and a few nice words when you step on the mat/before training and also afterwards. The people training with you are willing to help you where ever they can and roll with you/go over techniques before and after classes. The school offers activities out side of MA such as playing paintball against/with the instructors etc. The only time you will ever hear a harsh word from the instuctors is when it is called for (aka. doing something stupid/dangerous to yourself or your trainingpartner).
Striking Instruction - 8) This is more towards a 9 but in all honesty I have to say that if you are mainly looking for stand up/striking !only!, there are better schools around in NYC. The level of technique is solid/good but NOT top notch. Though they have good fighters and spar hard a lot, I say the stand up could be better. I have to admit that I did not train with them but observed the classes/sparing and compared it to other schools I have been/trained at and I think that 10 years of stand up give me some perspective on the topic. So take it for what it is, if you think different then I suggest you train at other gyms in NYC and will see my point being true.
Grappling Instruction - 10) The school took the teamtrophe at this years no-gi PanAms and in the process several golds/silvers/bronze. They took a medal in almost every class they started. You have trainers such as Renzo/John Danher and other highlevel competitiors/BJJ blackbelts (I am not going to name all of them, check the website). Pro fighters from all over the world come to the school to polish their groundgame (I am dead serious about this one, I am not getting into name dropping but in the three months I have been there I have seen a lot of fighters from the UFC/TUF etc.)
Weapons Instruction - 2) Because if have only seen Raphael teaching some knife defence (looked like trad. JJJ stuff to me, I knew the technique from JJJ) twice in a private, other than that I haven't seen any weapon instruction.
For prices, they differe on how long you pay, how you pay, what classes you take. Also privates differe on who you want to have a private with.
Since I want to give an honest report/rating, I have to mention a few things about the school. You pay for what you get, yes the school might be more expensive than the other schools but you get top of the line instruction and can train almost the entire day. If you are only going to train once or twice a week, this school might not be your best choice!
The main issue (I had), you are not getting stripes/belts when you don't have a 6 month or more contract. While this usually is not an issue, for me it was. Why? Well first of all, I still have not one stripe after over 150 hours of training, which wouldn't be such a bad thing, if you are only allowed to the no-gi classes and the purplebelt classes with 3 stripes and above. Hence I had to go extreme lengths to train no-gi !TWO! times total. And when you go no gi, you have to wear the school uniform/shirts/rashguard with your belt indication, so you have to buy their stuff. (Which is good quality for an okay price, but still I don't like the idea). Also the hot water issue was not so much fun and though they have a laundry service at the academy currently you can only get on the waiting list, hoping somebody will drop out of the service(It is closed so they can maintain the quality of the service, which is a good thing in general but for me it sucked).
My overall for this school? If you are serious about your training, you like to train often and hard and looking to compete, this school is for you. The instructors and training partners are top class and you literally get what you pay for.
If you are just looking for some fun, once or twice a week, go train somewhere else and save a few bucks in the process.
If you have any questions or think there is something I haven't talked about etc. just ask.