Cortland Ohio Shotokan Karate Center
The sensei is Nick Verri, he has been training shotokan karate-do for around 30 years give or take (not 100% sure of the exact year he started). He is a retired (literally retired a few months ago) police officer who has had his fair share of real life encounters, what he trains us in is what he has used in real life situations and what he feels best reflects Funikoshi's original teachings. We are affiliated with Sensei Fumio Demura, anyone who studies shotokan should have at least an idea who he is and what he has done/does. Here's the break down as best i can figure it out:
Aliveness - 5: After more carefully reading the forum rules after suggestions from someone who posted on here, i have edited my aliveness rating to a 5 and deleted my "sparring rating" lol. Often we do free sparring, but it is not intense enough imo to merit a higher rating, nor is it frequent enough. it's one of the few downsides to this dojo. My sensei feels that time would be better spent on perfecting our techniques, which i agree with to a point, and honestly lets face it, 95% of us are never going to have to use this outside of a friendly competition, but i still feel it'd be in our best interests to spar a bit more and really apply what we spend years and years learning.
Equipment - 7: I would rate this higher but there just usually isn't everything we COULD be using. We have heavy bags, punching and kicking body sized pads, jab pads, sparring gear (though you're encouraged to purchase your own, but you're welcome to use what they have, having your own is moreso just for sanitary purposes, you never know if someone's sick lol), a small supply of weapons (we are supposed to have our own but again you're welcome to use what they have, but you're screwed if they run out for that class and you don't have your own), foam weapons that allow training with contact, and a few other things. The only real issue with this comes when we have a HUGE class on a given night, this means we either have to make abnormally long lines or someone might just have to wait longer to use something. Overall it's not an issue much though. On a plus note we do have several makiwara boards set up and we're generally welcome to use them anytime we wish other then during line drills or kata practice...which reminds me i need to start hitting those things more lol.
Gym Size - 8: It's a pretty good size, i'm not sure of the dimensions but it's big enough to where we can have around 25 or so adults and a few kids training at the time and not have too much of a room issue. Infact most of the issues of size come from when the STUDENTS aren't paying attention during line drills and sometimes they get whacked on accident. It's rare but from time to time it does happen, imo though it just means wake the hell up and pay attention to your surroundings lol.
Instructor/Student Ratio - 4: This suffers the most imo. Occasionally one of the black belts will assist in training, or he has the higher ranked lower belts break off with the newer people (like high purple/brown working with white/yellow belts) but overall we could definitely benefit from having at least 1 other person there who's there JUST for helping, he can't do it all on his own since the classes do get pretty big. On a plus note there's always someone there you CAN ask for help if you need it, this is one of the few downsides to this dojo aside from what i'll cover shortly.
Atmosphere/Attitude - 9: Just like aliveness, the overall attitude here is great. Everyone is confident but for the most part humble, only on rare occasion have we had some asshole walk in there thinking he's going to take over the class and thinking he knows everything and anything about shotokan. Generally those types can't keep up with the curriculum though and soon they leave or they get humbled VERY quickly when it's needed. My sensei is the nicest guy in the world but he does NOT put up with shinanigans, i'll put it that way. Overall i feel like it's a home away from home when i'm there, and you can't ask for more then that :D Everyone here (for the most part) feels like a family, and we always welcome new students into that family.
Striking Instruction - 8: Without a doubt, the highlight of this dojo is the perfection that we get our strikes down to. As is known, shotokan is a style that works more on turning a few strikes into weapons as opposed to 1080510851 different techniques that we "get the basics" down on. We do thousands and i mean THOUSANDS of repetitions of the moves that we do perform, and the ones who put the time in are able to deliver them with mind numbing speed and power. I've been in several dojos, both reputable and mcojo , and without a doubt, this one perfects these moves better then any i've been to or likely will ever go to. Definitely a 8 in this category.
Grappling Instruction - 5: Unfortunately when you work on perfecting one thing, often another suffers, and grappling is the one here. Not nearly enough time is spent on learning or perfecting it in the first place, and even less is spent on applying it. We do learn basic throws and joint locks/breaks though, and i have had a situation where i had to actually use this because the other person involved was NOT going down with punches, so i'm confident that it's applicable to real life, but i do wish we spent more time on it. I give it a 5 though since it is there, and i do study a bit of ground work and grappling on my own so i'm better able to apply the little that we do learn. This is the main area that needs improvement imo.
Weapons Instruction - 6: We study bo/sword/sai/tonfa at this dojo, the nice part is if you do NOT want to learn them you don't have to, there is some done during our normal classes and they have a seperate day just for weapons training if you're able to make it. I myself am not, but personally i like learning empty hand more since it's more applicable to a real situation. I might not always have a knife or a bo, but i always have my hands and feet. Overall it's a nice way to round out what else we do. Someone interested in competitive weapons or sparring with them should look elsewhere though.
Overall it's a great school, and i thank god every day that i have been going here instead of a mcdojo that i could have happened upon all those years ago when i started. I've had to use what i've learned on more then one occasion and each time i've come out on top, i feel personally i wouldn't be alive today had i not taken this art, the area i live in is less then...fantastic, and i wouldn't have been able to handle the confrontations that i've been in as well as i did without what i've learned. Check it out if you're ever in cortland ohio :D