London, England - Elite Fighting Systems
Pros: Sparring, fitness, experienced instructors, regular participants in competition, senior members of class helpful to noobs, well-equipped despite appearances. Cons: Somewhat prone to machismo is about the only one I can think of; in other words, not much.
(NB: I last visited the club 2 years ago, so things may have changed since the following reviews.)
Last Thursday I went along to Elite in Elephant & Castle, a place I'd read about and seen on TV, so was quite intrigued as to what it would be like. Took my colleague from work and I a while to find the place, but eventually made it to the deceptively run-down building where the class is held. Despite first impressions, the gym is pretty well-equipped, with a few punching bags, plenty of mats, and loads of pads (MMA gloves, focus mitts, shin pads etc).
Dave came over to greet us, and then set us to work skipping. Soon realising we couldn’t skip for ****, he started the first drill, which was basically an opportunity for him to gauge our ability at falling down then getting up again. Dave showed us a basic breakfall, then how to get up again whilst keeping aware of the opponent (which resulted in us scuttling round until there was an opportunity to get up). We then went off to practice that amongst ourselves.
This moved on to attempts at passing the guard. Eventually one of the other members of the class pitched in to help, showing us more advanced technique. After playing around with that for awhile, yet another member of the class showed us a basic move, the armbar from mount.
Then it was time to try out passing the guard on more senior members of class; I didn’t manage it on anyone except the bloke who also happened to be a beginner (having been to one class before). Again, I found the senior members very helpful with this, as one guy carefully explained how I should keep low, and stay low, when trying to pass, going into fine detail on the methodology.
Once we’d done that, it was time for a bit more exercise. Everyone ran round the room, then when Dave called stop, we had to grab the nearest person and roll. This meant I got teamed up with some much larger and more experienced grapplers, a productive if painful learning experience!
Completing that, we then moved on to sprawls, different people calling at various points, shadow boxing continuously.
Dave then demonstrated various other techniques, such as chokes, and finished with my least favourite part of the class, some self-defence, which consisted of a short play with grab escapes (and a show of disgust at the newbies' – such as my myself - lack of muscle in the neck area). At the very end, we did some conditioning, which involved two people smacking each others forearms together.
Started off with stand-up this time round, doing some light sparring with various partners - as usual, the seniors gave me a lot of tips on improving my punching. We then moved on to shooting in from that stand-up position, though not straight through to takedown.
The session then moved on to the usual grappling. First section was taking it in turns to go into side mount, and the guy on the bottom would try to pull guard while the guy on top would try and stop him. Proved to be very knackering!
After that, it was onto more specific techniques. At first, Dave showed us something called a crucifix, but decided that for the beginners, that was a bit tough. So instead, we tried out some neck cranks, and from the same position, an arm bar (to be used if the bloke tried to get his arm through).
The class finished up with more rolling, although this time we started from our knees. The big Indian guy who joined at the same time I dominated our little trio of beginners, beating one guy twice and me once (only sparred me once, though). Fortunately I slightly redeemed myself by getting an arm bar on the other guy, although we did have one of the seniors, Tom, commentating and showing us positions all the way through! So I don't think I can quite count that as a grappling success on my part, but still good to get the sub.
Lots more people this session, including the Elite 'demo team', which explained why there was a guy doing backflips as I got in, which was pretty cool. Apparently he's a stuntman. The demo team performance seemed to effectively be some nicely choreographed stage fighting, with various senior members of the class acting out a street scene with various techniques applied during the confrontation.
There was more of a warm this session, shadow boxing on the spot as various combinations were called out for knees and elbows. This later moved on to other such exercises, such as picking up the guy next to and lifting him a few times - fortunately it was a guy of the same size in my case, though presumably they wouldn't have expected me to lift some of the huge powerful people that train down there!
This moved on to 'body hardening', with such exercises as running across people's stomachs, and more intensive work jumping across them digging in knees, slamming down your body weight etc. There was also the old forearm clash from the first lesson, but thankfully the guy I was with didn't seem interested in going particularly hard.
Dave also showed us various ways of breaking someone's hold if you were trying to put an armlock on them, and countering someone trying to put an armlock on you, by moving through their legs into guard.
One of the more senior students went through various techniques with us beginners, mainly focusing on figure-of-four variations, and its counter, which was simply lying on your own arm, though the guy said he preferred to grab his shorts to stop the arm getting locked up.
There was also plenty of rolling, sometimes with specific goals in mind and starting positions, like from guard, sidemount etc, and the aim was often to simply escape, turn over, or apply a specific submission. We also had the usual free roll as well, though less than normal.
Elite has produced various fighters, such as Brad Pickett (6-1-0), with a total of thirteen competitors currently on the Sherdog database.
Last edited by slideyfoot; 12/05/2006 4:32pm at .
Lots of conditioning and MMA grappling is mentioned - what about stand-up striking skills?
Weird, howd' this get posted under my name? I've never been to England.
Hah, look at the username as well.
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