Pinnacle BJJ - Redlands, CA
This place is awesome.
Look, I'm a bit of a hipster and a bit of a geek - I sure as hell am pretentious enough to not usually want to walk into a place where I can people have metal cranked and half the guys there are built and sporting SoCal style tattoos... that's not really my scene. But in the two months I've been working out with these guys I've really come to love the place.
Pinnacle is run by Jake Behney -- Jake is "only a BJJ purple belt," as I'm sure people here will require me to stipulate, and something a lot of you will care about, but he is a damned good coach, a fair businessman, an awesome strategist, and someone who is intelligent and humble enough to enlist people who help teach classes on subjects he doesn't know well enough to teach himself.
There are several MMA guys, some pro and some amateur trying to turn pro, with pretty strong records who fight out of this club. I've watched Jake coach them and he does so very wel (in my opinion, I'm not a pro). Here's an example: when one of our fighters had a fight coming up against a wrestler, Jake called in every wrestler in the area to the gym and also took him out to several places with reputable wrestlers and had him go against them non-stop for long time periods.
Jake also has an affiliation with Coachella Judo and people at Pinnacle can drive down there and take classes for free and vice versa -- it's a bit of a drive (45 minutes or so I think - I haven't made it myself) but sometimes a few of the guys will carpool, or Jake will drive a few out there.
The place has a mixed curriculum - right now there's boxing, judo, wrestling, and muay thai once a week, and several gi and no-gi jiu-jitsu classes throughout the week. This will probably vary over the lifespan of the school -- when Jake finds someone in the area with a real talent for something, he enlists them to teach it at least once a week at his school if he can.
Let me explain individual ratings now:
Aliveness 10: People are always rolling/sparring/ doing randori - it's a huge component of the class. Plus, Jake watches everyone, and takes turn coaching people during parts of the rolling, and will stop it to demonstrate techniques, etc -- so you're not just getting smashed constantly wondering what you're doing wrong. There are open mat periods where you can get more in if you want. This place lives and breathes on aliveness, and Jake is always promoting tournaments and getting people to commit to going as a team to try for team titles, etc.
Equipment 8: They have several heavy bags, speed bags, a lot of mat space, a cage, and a small store where they sell equipment and t-shirts. Unfortunately, there's only one small bathroom and no locker rooms, and it doesn't have a full service gym with free weights, etc. combined. These things aren't a necessity, but they are the difference between its present rating and a 9 or a 10.
Gym Size 7: I'm hoping they grow in the future. There's a good amount of mat space, but the school has grown a lot just in the two months I've been there, and on crowded days it can be really hard to roll without bumping into people constantly. People usually exercise ok mat awareness and Jake tries to watch out for this, but if the school keeps growing at the rate it is, it's going to have to expand before too long.
Instructor/student ratio 7: Unfortunately this isn't a place where there are tons of blacks and purples. Jake is the lone purple, there are several blue belts and white belts with 3-4 stripes who have a good amount of experience. For each of the other arts (judo, boxing, muay thai) there's one instructor once a week. I'm sure in a few years as more people advance this will be taken care of, but for the time being it is probably the school's biggest weakness. I still give it a 7 though because Jake does his damndest to be a good coach to everyone on the mat, even when 25 guys show up, and he is really good about moving around and helping everyone, and you can usually get his attention to get help with something.
Atmosphere/attitude 10: People here are willing to do the work - a few guys are pro mma fighters, everyone is super friendly and supportive to people starting out there and learning the moves and beginners get cheered along with they learn new moves and show a lot of heart. Anyone with the right attitude will prosper in this environment, it's great. The competitiveness is friendly, and there's a strong team bond among the people here.
Striking instruction 7: It's only twice a week, and the coaches are good, but it just won't compare to having a full-on Muay Thai gym and whatnot. The classes end up being more heavy duty conditioning classes with basic techniques for the time being, but the guys who participate in them are good and people will grow in this environment with its aliveness. I know Jake is trying to boost this aspect of the club up and possibly enlist another striking coach or two, but at the end of the day the club's fundamentals are grappling.
Grappling instruction 8: Some people will probably freak out if I give it anything higher with a purple belt teaching, though I have an inclination to. The quality of the instruction, in the way that's universal to teaching people physical skills, is way up there, and when Jake hits the brown and black levels, which I'm sure he will, this will only improve. Still, there's Judo, BJJ, and wrestling. He'd just have to add Sambo to hit the Bullshido all time favorite list.
In the interest of fairness - I'm a relative noob (Judo yellow belt, 8-9 months or so of MA after 4 years of saber fencing, I've only done BJJ for three months, if you count the 6 classes or so I had in Buffalo before coming out here as a month), but the club seems to have a good competition record. If people are concerned with any ratings being too high, the place isn't too far from most locations in SoCal - I recommend you come check it out.
I think the aliveness and the attitude here are phenomenal, and more than make up for any of the shortcomings the place may have in experience of the instructor or guys at the gym.