Grogan's Academy of Martial Arts: Edwardsville, IL
I was formerly a student here, and went here in a break between kenpo, and krav maga, boxing and BJJ.
The school teaches Soo Bahk Do, and the head instructor is Rich Grogan, a 5th degree black belt.
The website is: http://www.grogansmartialarts.com/
Grogan's would often work on compliant partner drills, be it one step sparring or the self defense techniques within the Soo Bahk Do curriculum. Point sparring was offered once every two weeks for kids, and only prior to competitions for adults. Children would wear the full foam-dipped gear of the century variety, while adults would utilize soft cloth knuckle covers and a mouthpiece. The goal was light to non contact.
Board breaking, while a requirement for belt testing, is rare.
A difficult category to rate. While Grogan's did not offer a cage or much equipment for sparring, the gear they did have was in new condition and was well suited towards the Soo Bahk Do curriculum.
Gym Size: 6
Grogan had moved into his third space, and had put in quality mats. The space was large enough for at least three adult sized sparring matches to take place simultaneously.
Instructor/Student Ratio: 4
With some exceptions Grogan was always on site (the notable exception being an open mat night). In many cases hands-on instruction was handled by a more senior belt, or two teenagers who were licensed instructors.
Grogan did well at cultivating a family atmosphere within the dojang. Many of the parents and adults seems to get on well.
Striking Instruction: 4
Good instruction, but suffers the limitations of the Soo Bahk Do curriculum: Point Sparring, no open competitions, no clinch work, no leg kicks, etc...
Grappling Instruction: 1
When I mentioned that I had trained in BJJ, I got a puzzled look. Grappling was not taken into account during training.
Basic one step sparring/compliant self defense against weapons. Once the defender had obtained control of the weapon, no instruction on how to employ said weapon in a defensive manner.
Overall, Grogan's school is targeted at families and adults who want a bit of a workout, some discipline, and a feeling of community. It certainly has some McDojoish practices (birthday parties, Tiny Tigers, you'll need to buy books or DVDs, you'll need to buy new uniforms for each new belt, etc...) but these should be expected from this sort of school. I find none of these practices particularly egregious. During my tenure, they seemed to avoid the Black Belt club, and other deceptive pricing maneuvers.
Overall, stay away if:
You want to learn self defense, and have some security that you can apply it.
You want to spar, and really be pressure tested.
You want to compete in open tournaments.
You have no desire to clean up the dojang. IMHO, people who clean while wearing uniforms are called janitors, not students, and they normally don't have to pay for that privilege.
If you're looking for better than average strip mall korean krotty, where they are honest with their pricing, and the instruction (given the style's limitations) is decent, I might recommend this place.
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