mma review ratings
Aliveness: 6



Equipment: 4



Gym Size: 6



Atmosphere/Attitude: 10



Striking Instruction: 4



Grappling Instruction: 6



Weapons Instruction: 1



The websites www.ninjaturkey.com, bjjturkey.com, and BJJ Turkey on Facebook all refer the same cozy club in Izmir, Turkey. They are extremely welcoming, friendly, and hospitable. I never got the official name of the club, but its website says "Izmir Fight Club" and "MMA Center" and "Izmir BJJ". It is run by Erdoğan Şenol, a 7th degree ninjitsu black belt with extensive experience in Tae Kwon Do, though he doesn't teach the BJJ classes. He is, in his own words, uninterested in boxing, and he dislikes MMA, which he perceives to be too rough. They are affiliated with Edson Carvalho. Classes are on weekdays from roughly 17:30 to 19:30 (schedule).

The club operates out of the gym in the PirinÁ Center mall in Konak. To get there, go to the Konak stop on the Izmir Metro and walk north (with the water on your left) for about half a mile. When you see a pedestrian bridge over the Kordon highway, turn right onto the mostly-unmarked 860 Sokak. Walk about 100 meters and the PirinÁ center will be on your right. Go to the third floor and tell the fitness center attendant you're there for jiu-jitsu; usually they speak English or will understand anyway. You will be shown to a separate room behind the dumbbells. My understanding is that the agreement between the club and the fitness center does not allow members to use the gym unless they pay a full membership (though I could be wrong), so don't lift weights unless you get permission.

The times I went, between 3 and 5 people would show up for BJJ/judo. All were white/orange/blue belts in BJJ and unranked in judo (except for the sole judo brown belt, a Turkish national champion). Class is extremely informal, with a brief warm-up then drilling an assortment of techniques. It is not a strict class format, but rather a friendly, easygoing atmosphere for sharing BJJ, with techniques being shown by the highest ranked student (or students) present. At some point they transition to randori, with one or two pairs rolling at a time. Most of the class focuses on groundwork, but they were adding more throwing/judo to the mix when I went.

The mats sometimes slide apart during class. They're really too thin for tachiwaza randori but we did some anyway.

The boxing and MMA are strictly small-group cardio classes. The technique instruction for those students consisted of "left, right, kick", and "straddle the punching bag and go wild". They do not spar. I believe these students also study the manager's ninjutsu, since I saw them working standing wristlocks at one time.

I must note that the etiquette of tapping is slightly different than the American/Brazilian approach I am familiar with. It might be this way everywhere in Turkey, or just in Izmir, or just in the two (related) clubs I went to. I don't know. What I experienced was that students or instructors on the sidelines will frequently "tap" for people who are rolling! For instance, if someone catches an armlock, the instructor may call a stop before it's fully sunk, or if someone has been holding top position for more than ten seconds a fellow student on the sidelines will tell the top player to reset the round from a neutral position. This happened to me, my partners, and other pairs. It was not due to positional sparring or people spazzing out. Once or twice this was accompanied by an explanation like "he is tired" but usually it's merely "that was tight enough". One explanation I have heard is that Turks are less focused on sports, and so they get less experience losing as children, and thus they use this safety measure so they don't rely on someone's willingness to tap to avoid injury. I do not know.

On the whole, this club is a nice group of people who are fun to roll around with and trade BJJ tricks.

(Alper Şenol, son of the manager Erdoğan, is a brown belt in judo and BJJ. He runs an unnamed, quasi-related BJJ club further south, close to the airport. The mats are great for BJJ but a little unforgiving for throws. To get there, take the Izban train to SirinÁ station, cross the street to go through the parking lot of the car wash, turn right to go into the supermarket (I believe it's a Kipa), go to the sports center on the third floor, and tell them you're there for jiu-jitsu. This club was just starting operations when I visited, so only a few students were there. I don't know the schedule but I went on Wednesday and class was from 19:00 to 20:00.)