Des Moines Jiu-Jitsu - Des Moines, Iowa
I am out of town visiting family in Des Moines, and they were kind enough to let me do a drop in. I contacted them ahead of time on FB and they said that they welcome visitors. I showed up a bit early, signed the waiver and paid the mat fee ($20) and got ready for class.
In both my numbers above and my discussion below, please keep in mind that this was a Fundamentals Class, not an advanced class, competition class, etc. The class was made up of predominantly white belts, many of whom were pretty new, along with a few blue belts and some purple belts helping out and working drills with everyone else. Also, I marked what I did for striking because I saw thai pads and their website says they have it, so I presume they do, but I was there for a Jiu-jitsu class and did not witness the Thai Boxing class. I marked what I did for weapons because it was a BJJ class. I marked what did for aliveness because it was a fundamentals class, so it wasn't free sparring. I have no doubt that there is a good deal of full on sparring to be had as well.
Class started off with a good warm up: some jogging followed by shrimping, bear crawl to different positions, front and back rolls, and falls.
The class was focused on a series of movements to pass guard and the stack up your opponent. The head instructor broke things down in three parts, and then had us drill each phase with multiple partners before moving onto the next. This class lasted for an hour, and for the half hour afterwards, the instructor had us move to positional sparring in a drill he called "king of the hill". There were around 22 students, and he started with 9 pairs in the middle. The pairs started out with one person in guard. The person in guard was supposed to try to pass, the person on the bottom was supposed to maintain guard. Students at higher ranks were free to work submissions. If you "won" you stayed in. If you "lost" you went to wall and a fresh person came to spar the guy who had just won. The person who "lost" then waited until another spot opened and then jumped back in. This last bit lasted for 30 minutes, and it was a butt-kicker. They were having an open mat after that, but I was done in, so I took off. I probably got a chance to roll a bit with about 7 or 8 different people in that 30 minutes, which was pretty cool.
All in all, this was a great place to train. Everyone was welcoming and super cool, and there was a bit of the usual good-natured ball busting between people who had been there a while. The purple belts went out of their way to help me when I drilled with them, and they tapped me with supreme ease when we sparred at the end. If you find yourself in or around Des Moines, IA, I definitely recommend it.