1. #1
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    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    Greetings from Western Mass

    Hello to everyone. I've enjoyed this site for quite some time and genuinely appreciate the valuable service that it provides. Although I have a very modest and limited background in combat sports from years past, I am still very much a novice and do not consider myself qualified to thoroughly scrutinize and assess martial arts gyms/dojos (aside from spotting the most glaring "red flags" that signify shady business practices or blatantly poor training methods). Bullshido has been a great source of information and has allowed me to become a little more educated and savvy when it comes to these types of matters. So to all the folks whose insights and advice I've benefitted from - thank you!

    I know that a lot of the people who frequent this site have a lot of knowledge and experience, so I'd appreciate any thoughts that folks would care to share on my situation. I've been wanting to get back into some type of martial arts/combat sports/combatives training for some time, and I see no reason to put it off any longer. I do, however, get a little hung up on what route to take. I'm in my mid-thirties and harbor no illusions about competing in high level MMA or anything like that, but I do appreciate the type of training that is done in the gyms that cater to those kinds of fighters. (Ineffective methods don't seem to last long in places where people hit each other and train against heavy resistance) At the same time, I also like some of the more traditional disciplines that have resisted “watering down” and proven themselves to have value for both physical conditioning and self defense purposes.

    I live out the western Mass/Springfield area and would love to get some recommendations from people familiar with this neck of the woods on good places to train. I have a pretty open mind and am not dead set on any given style or discipline. Traditional, hybrid, combat sport-oriented - it really doesn't matter much to me as long as a) the training environment is a good one b) the instructors are honest about their credentials and capable teachers and c) the discipline being taught translates well into real world self defense applications. I also don't mind taking a bit of a drive, although I'd like to keep it within 40 minutes of Springfield if possible. (I'd love to say that I am willing to drive two hours one way for quality instruction, but at some point one has to be realistic about how an extended commute can adversely affect consistent training).

    Trying to be good noob, I utilized the “search function” prior to posting and turned up some interesting stuff (New England Submission Fighting in Amherst is one gym that kept coming up in a positive light). However, I also noticed that a lot of the western Mass oriented posts were older and I think that the training scene out here has changed a lot in recent years (i.e old places out of business/new places popping up). Hope that nobody minds my looking for an updated perspective.

    Thanks very much for your help - I look forward to any thoughts and feedback that you care to share.

  2. #2
    Soldiermedic's Avatar
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    Depending on where you are, there are a couple of decent schools in the area. If you're in or near Amherst, then I'd without a doubt go with NESF, they've been open since 1993 and Kirik has got to be one of the nicest guys I have ever met. If you're closer to Springfield then there is
    http://www.fightingartsacademy.com/ or you can go to train in kajukenbo & Judo at http://www.griffinskarate.com/. Also Marco Alvan has a number of bjj/mma schools in the area http://www.linkbjj.com/locations.cfm

    Like I said, I would highly recommend NESF if its convenient, the instruction is excellent and the atmosphere is top notch. Of the ones in and around Springfield, it really just depends on what your finances are and what skills you'd want to focus on.

    Good luck and welcome to Bullshido

  3. #3
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    I appreciate the warm welcome and the good suggestions. I have yet to hear anything but positive stuff about Kirik or NESF; it definitely sounds like a great place to look into. From the looks of their website, it appears that the gym has a lot to offer in the way of both striking and grappling. The other places that you mentioned look very legit, as well. Thanks for the info!

  4. #4

    Join Date
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    Welcome to Bullshido. Guessing by your moniker you're either ex or current military. There's a tags thread around here somewhere, use it to get the tags appropriate to your situation.

  5. #5
    W. Rabbit's Avatar
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    I did judo at UMASS Amherst, just north of you. My family has a lot of history in the Pioneer Valley. My grandfather was buried on Mount Holyoke.

    I miss Springfield's night life. Lots of great bars.

  6. #6
    Soldiermedic's Avatar
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    One thing about the Team Link schools, some of their satellite locations are taught by blue belts, so if you do call to inquire, make sure you ask who is teaching the classes. The main schools in Worcester and Ludlow have the majority of the high level instructors

  7. #7
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    Hey guys, thanks for the welcome. You are correct Wetare - ex mil. W. Rabbit - always nice to meet someone else who spent time in the valley. Sadly, escalating crime levels have taken their toll on the Springfield night life in more recent years. The entertainment district has been the setting for a lot of the high profile violence and I suspect that this has encouraged many to seek alternate options when it comes to going out for a night on the town.

    Soldiermedic, thanks for the tip on Team Link. I'm not too familiar with any of the satellites, but I live pretty close to their Ludlow gym. A lot of the guys who train there seem to enjoy a great deal of success in the regional scene (and beyond, in some cases).

    One other quick question while I'm logged on, if I may. Do any of you guys know of any good Kyokushin or knockdown karate schools in the area? That is another discipline that I would be curious to learn a little more about...

  8. #8
    Soldiermedic's Avatar
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    Knockdown karate is kinda hard to find in Mass, there is a kyokushin school in Ashland, but thats pretty far away from western MA. The kajukenbo school would probably be the closest you can get to it within a reasonable distance.

  9. #9
    W. Rabbit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck11b View Post
    Hey guys, thanks for the welcome. You are correct Wetare - ex mil. W. Rabbit - always nice to meet someone else who spent time in the valley. Sadly, escalating crime levels have taken their toll on the Springfield night life in more recent years. The entertainment district has been the setting for a lot of the high profile violence and I suspect that this has encouraged many to seek alternate options when it comes to going out for a night on the town.
    Yep, sounds like the Springfield I remember. As far as violence...the town surrounds an Armory, after all. It hasn't been a peaceful place since 1777 :)

  10. #10
    Soldiermedic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by W. Rabbit View Post
    Yep, sounds like the Springfield I remember. As far as violence...the town surrounds an Armory, after all. It hasn't been a peaceful place since 1777 :)
    Started with Shay's Rebellion, hasn't quieted down since.

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