Enshin Karate Texas Branch
Enshin of Austin
Howdy, I'm a Noob, if you can't tell by my info, and I didn't see a review for the school I attend so… read it. lol
Enshin Karate Texas Branch(Austin, TX)
A quick background before I go into ratings. The head instructor is Sensei Andrew Budd. Sensei Budd trained under Kancho Ninomiya before fighting in the '99 World Sabaki Challenge where he won the Sabaki Spirit Award for his efforts. Enshin Karate is a knock-down style karate that focuses on using Sabaki(blind spot techniques) to defeat your opponent. It allows grabs and throws on top of the bare knuckle karate but they must be completed quickly and cleanly within a 3 second window. Holding for any longer is penalized in order to help make the action non stop.
Aliveness: 7-8 Eight is probably pushing it a little but here's the rationale. Its a full contact, bare knuckle style. I go 5 times a week when I am able. Two days of heavy bag training and 3 days of traditional. We tend to spar on all three traditional days and most often do body conditioning(getting hit and kicked, not doing crunches) on the other two. Gear involves a groin protector, mouth piece and shin pads. Depending on your partner's level the sparring could be anywhere from %50 power to %90 if he's rarin' to go(or simply that much better than you). It's always good technique and there are no macho dweebs to deal with. You get a great sweat and if you push it, you go home bruised and happy.
Equipment: 2 Bring your own. Buy a cup, buy a mouth piece and the instructor will sell you a shiny new gi and shin pads. That's it. No helmets or gloves here.
Gym Size: 6-7 The classes are held at a rec center. The room is around 1000+(I'm guessing) The kids classes are always packed. I couldn't tell you if they were tripping over people or not since little kids just tend to fall over for no reason. But the Adult class is a lot easier to deal with. A crowded class will have around 16-20 people. Expect it to be more personal.
Instructor/Student Ratio: 9-10 I added 9 in there because a few black belts may end up helping if Sensei is busy helping someone else. Otherwise, you get the head instructor all the time.
Striking Instruction: 8-9 When I win the Sabaki Challenge twice I'll re-rate this to 10. Until then its all the instructor with a good crop of students and one competitor who has competed in the World Sabaki Championships three times getting 2nd in 2010.
Grappling Instruction: 4 The school instruction is more of a hobby. Its not for ranking and we don't compete with it. Its just a supplement on Saturdays for an hour after class. The style is Judo Newaza(grappling. No throws)
Weapons: One of the students is a military sniper. He leaves his weapons at home. That's as close to weapons as we get. lol
Simply put, if you like bare knuckle karate but you don't want to just stand in front of someone if they are bigger and meaner than you and you like the secondary option of throwing them on their butt so you can stomp them or sub them then this is probably a good place for you. The school is small and intimate with excellent instruction and a few bad asses to test yourself against if you want it and if you don't that's cool too.
Ah, that reminds me. Its $75 every six weeks. Its a steal. There isn't anything as competent in the price range, much less for $150 more a month. I brave rush hour 4 times a week for this place. 'Nuff said.
OSU from another Enshin karateka!
Sounds like a great dojo; I must confess to being jealous. Of course, I imagine a rec center is a bit more lenient on class length, frequency, and level of contact than a major YMCA branch, which just makes me even more jealous.
They pretty much leave us alone because of all the kids. We were concerned at first because the rec center had to absorb the hardcore school when the lease ended(the owner wanted to sell I believe and we couldn't buy) so all of us sweaty barbarians had to join the civil class. lol Its been fine so far. My only complaint is the hour long class time. I miss the 1 1/2 long classes. That's probably why we spar more.
Your Sensei is one of the few I haven't had the Privilege of meeting. Oh well, there are plenty of Sabaki Challenges in the future. Any chance of meeting you there? (or have I already?) Meeting other Enshin practitioners is always cool.
Your dojo sounds like a truly great place to train and that is excellent that you have access to a number of guys who have competed and enjoyed success on a world class level. I've always admired bare knuckle knockdown karate a great deal and think it's a shame that Kyokushin, Enshin, and Ashihara dojos are so hard to come by in many parts of the country. I live out in western Massachusetts where there is a suprisingly diverse array of different facilities and training options, but still no knockdown karate dojos that I'm aware of. If anyone knows of a good one, please chime in ...
Since it's not every day that I have access to someone who trains in a bare knuckle/knockdown discipline, I'd love the chance to get your personal opinion/two cents on one of the big criticisms that certain karate styles always seem to draw. Since hand techniques to the head/face are prohibited in virtually all knockdown styles, do you ever worry about or experience negative "training effects" or habits stemming from lots of sparring with head punches out of play? If so, do you do any type of cross training or supplementary work to fill in perceived gaps? From reading other posts related to that subject, it seems like there is a significant degree of discord, even among knockdown stylists themselves. I truly don't know enough to have an informed opinion on that controversial topic, so I'd love to get an insider's view.
You people from the former Tao of Texas?
Chuck: I am a terrible person to ask. I have a kickboxing background and I actually have to routinely stop myself from punching people in the head. lol I would think so though. I have found when I accidentally throw hands my opponents don't flinch because they don't see it coming. When you train only to block kicks to the head you tend to lose a lot of head movement etc. I try to make sure people are aware of it when we spar but because of the way we fight and compete there isn't a lot of focus on hands to the head except when working pads. I haven't seen any problem yet with us cross training though, in fact there is an Enshin practitioner from Virginia that not too long ago became the IFK 2009 Muay Thai Champ(Najim Wali. Check him out, he had some fun fights for sure). He's going to be getting into MMA here pretty quick and if Texas still had regular kickboxing bouts or muay thai bouts, I would still be doing those as well. So, like I said, I'm a terrible person to ask for that.
Hungry Joe: Yes. We were one of the schools that rented space from Cathy. I believe ya'll came down for a grappling day? I missed ya'll. Sounds like you met Mike and Sensei Budd if you went though.
Thanks for sharing your insights and experiences regarding the headshot question. I also checked out some youtube footage of the fighter you mentioned (Najim). He looks pretty comfortable and accomplished with punches to the melon, both outgoing and incoming! Maybe Thai boxing is the perfect training compliment for bare knuckle karate.
Just wanted to say a good word about Budd-sensei. He was my judo instructor, and I can personally attest his ability to strike and grapple. Those in Austin looking for karate and judo instruction cannot ask for better.
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