Academy of World Martial Arts (Vista, CA)
The instructor, Sifu James Stacy, teaches Jeet Kune Do, Muay Thai, Eskrima, and Silat primarily, though every once in a while he will throw in something he learned from other styles such as Krabi Krabong or Shooto Wrestling. People he is certified under for these include Dan Inosanto, Terry Gibson, and Ajarn Chai Sirisute. He is also certified under the Dog Brothers as an Instructor.
The Academy of World Martial Arts (AWMA from here on in) is a very small scale place, with about 4 consistent students and a hand full of others who show up every once in a while. A little bit about each art: the Jeet Kune Do has a lot of Wing Chun and Boxing principles in at, as Sifu James has trained directly under Dan Inosanto. The Muay Thai is mixed in with a boxing element so we can have better footwork and punches than the average Muay Thai fighter. The Eskrima work we do is mostly short stick (both one-stick and two-stick exercises) and knife related, though we've done more. The Silat is the less-flashy, more martial aspect, as opposed to the dance (not saying dance as an insult, Silat actually has a dance component) that some places teach.
With that said, here is a brief description of each criteria:
Aliveness: Though we don't start with in much sparring, our drills are about as alive as you can get while still being drills. Once we learn a technique, we start slow to learn it properly, then get faster until it becomes realistic (if we don't block/parry a punch we get hit full force in the face/if we don't disarm a fake knife in time we get poked really hard in the ribs/etc) and in grappling and weapon exercise we are taught not to be compliant so we know if we are doing the technique right. After learning how to properly hit the Thai pads and focus mitts, as well as bobbing, blocking, and counter exercises with them, they are fed to you at random so as not to encourage any set patterns. After you have been here for a few months, however, you start engaging in regular sparring.
Equipment: The equipment is definitely sufficient. From fake weapons for drills (from knives to sticks to swords to staves) to boxing and Muay Thai equipment we always have what we need. The mats are a bit worn but Sifu always cleans them after use. There are a few punching and kicking bags inside, but a lot more are outside, which is where we usually train for Muay Thai drills.
Gym Size: Sifu James rents out a building with a front office, main studio, a couple bathrooms, a couple closets, something that looks like a kitchen area, and a decent sized back lot. I am terrible at estimations with building size so I won't even try to guess the dimensions of the room.
Instructor/Student Ratio: Excellent. Because of the small class sizes (2-4 on an average night, depending what day of the week it is), there is a lot of attention spent on each student. Attention to technique and effort is superb.
Atmosphere/Attitude: The classes are composed mostly of people training in self-defense and people who have a general interest in martial arts, most of them being laid-back and friendly. Because of this there isn't really any drama or egotism that comes up.
Striking/Grappling/Weapon Instruction: These were hard to rank because we don't have a strict curriculum. While there is a schedule on the site, we pretty much do whatever we or our instructor want us to do. Because of this, our curriculum isn't constant. My ratings were given as an average of everything we have done since I started going there. A couple constants have been some basic JKD, Muay Thai, and boxing drills. Recently, we have been doing a lot of Muay Thai combinations, Kali knife disarm, and Silat take downs and sweeps, which is a curriculum I personally quite like. Its never constant though.
One thing I must point out about this place is it is very informal; there are no belts, there is no set curriculum (as mentioned before), and the level of intensity depends on who is present (so if it is a class of only regulars, for example, we might work on more advanced techniques and spar more often rather than a class that has a regular or two and a couple people who only come occasionally). Also, because most of the people who train here aren't training to become professional fighters and don't have the time to dedicate to intense constant training (most of us go to school full time, work full time, or both), we go at a casual pace. If you're looking for rapid growth to be able to turn yourself into a badass MMA fighter in a couple months you will be disappointed, though I imagine if you go everyday and ask for more intense training oriented towards what you want Sifu can work with you and help you out.
Overall a great place to casually train yourself. The teacher knows his stuff, evident by how naturally even the most complex moves come to him when he works with us. I have been going for about six months and have no plans to quit until I transfer from the community college I go to to a university.
Last edited by karma2343; 5/23/2010 2:20pm at .
I see you listed the cost at $100, is that a month? Also, I've checked out the website, does he follow the class schedule, or does he teach the class more based upon who happens to be there? I've really been considering the 40+ mile drive to the school because i can't seem to find any Silat practitioners anywhere in San Diego.
I grew up in Vista, and I pretty much know all the instructors in the area.
My ex and I used to take Capoeira classes with Pablo, a guy who rented space with James.
His studio is well outfitted, with a lot of space and decent equipment. He also has all his accreditation prominently displayed, with lots of "back in the day" training photos of him with various instructors. I've spoken with him in-depth about his experience, and I don't doubt his "pedigree" when it comes to the styles he teaches.
Back when I was around, they sparred a LOT...but this was mostly among the advanced students. They primarily used 16 oz gloves with MT shin pads, and I can't remember any grappling ever occurring...but they sparred. I'm disappointed to hear that regular sparring has stopped.
Overall, James is a nice guy. Very laid back and informal. However, he is a total smartass, and enjoys screwing with people. He's extremely sarcastic, and it took some time for me to realize that he wasn't simply an asshole. I can easily see him offending some folks with his demeanor, and he can come off as unprofessional. However, he knows his stuff and once you get to know him, he's a good guy.
Originally Posted by Exodus
He teaches more on who happens to be there, the other night we did about 1 hour of Silat practice and then about half an hour of Muay Thai. He pretty much bases his lesson of the night on the level of the students there and what they want to learn.
Originally Posted by mr1780
Super Guido: Yes, I kinda had the same feelings the first couple times I went there, but I grew to realize he was a good guy. Also, I assume we will spar more if I get better soon.
Edit: For the last week we did sparring each class and he said we would be doing it more often. He said because I have finally gotten good at kicking and keeping my guard up we will start sparring more, so I guess I am no longer a complete beginner, just a moderate beginner.
Last edited by karma2343; 4/06/2009 12:16am at .