New York, NY - Kokushi Budo Institute -Judo
Kokushi Budo Institute is run by Sensei Nobuyoshi Higashi, who holds an 8th Dan in Judo from the Kodokan (and also holds a 10th Dan in Jujutsu, and 7th Dan in both Tomiki Aikido, and Kokushi Karate.) Normally I would be skeptical of someone with such high Dan ranks in so many arts, but Higashi Sensei is the real deal.
Classes are very traditional, but there is a great training atmosphere and everyone makes sure that new students feel welcome (hence the 10 rating.)
I gave the school top ratings for aliveness, as they had me doing randori and newaza on my first day (although i was partnered with senior students and they were very careful not to hurt me, and to offer resistance while rewarding good technique by allowing me to throw them when the set up was more or less correct.)
Equipment got a 9 because although the mats are very nice, and the space is immaculately clean, I didn't see a crash mat, or throwing dummy, or gym equipment (free weights, kettlebells, etc.)
Gym size got an 8 because the space isn't very large (although it was perfect for the class size.) With huge locations like ATT getting a 10, I need to rate this appropriately. Bigger is not better, necessarily, but I want to give an accurate review.
With a small class, each student gets a lot of attention, and there are a lot of high ranked judoka in the class, who are happy to help. Also, Sensei's son, Higashi Shintaro, is often assisting, and he is a top level international Judo competitor. With both Higashis in the same room teaching a class of less than 10 students, that's a fantastic teacher/student ratio and well deserving of a 10.
I cannot comment on the striking instruction, and weapons instruction so I won't rate those.
The grappling instruction gets a 9, only because there are some better places to work on pure ground grappling here in NYC (because they focus 100% on ground grappling, both gi and no-gi, etc.) If I was to rate the *Judo* grappling instruction, I would give it a 10, as they produce international level competitors.
All in all, I cannot recommend this dojo enough, and I may add to this review when I have been training there longer.