Princeton Judo Club
The Princeton Judo Club is run out of the local YWCA. It provides good instruction and training for adults and children of all ages, and is a great environment to learn judo. One semester of classes (11 weeks x 3 classes per week) costs $227, while the walk-on mat fee is $10 per class. A YWCA registration fee is also required, and is between $35-$50, depending on the age of the member and whether the member is a college student or not. Classes are Mondays and Wednesdays from 7:00-8:30 PM, and Saturdays from 8:30-9:45 AM.
Class usually begins with a quick bow-in and 15 minutes of warmup and exercise drills. This is followed by 30 minutes of technique instruction and drills. During technique work, members will help each other out in improving their technique, and instructors make an effort to spend time watching and helping each individual in turn. No kata, atemi, or weapon techniques are taught during the class. Often instructors will pair themselves with one student in order to correct and improve a student's technique and will only move on to the next student when they feel satisfied with that student. After technique work, newaza randori (rolling) is given 15-20 minutes. After that, the rest of the class is devoted to tachiwaza randori (standup freeplay). Class ends with announcements and bow-out. For those wanting to practice more after class, the mat is open until another YWCA class claims the mat or until all the instructors have to leave.
Beginners are generally set aside for personal instruction for the first few classes to learn the basics (i.e. breakfalls, a few throws and safety rules for randori). Once the instructor is confident in their ability to take part in randori safely, they are included in the normal class. Experienced newcomers are welcomed to take part in the normal class.
Since the club is offered as a course at the YWCA, there are many young children in addition to the adults in each class. However, the children are taught separately from the adults. Warmups are combined, then the class is separated into adults and children. The children's class generally mirrors the adults' class, with a few drills changed to be more interesting to the children. The instructors are great with kids. They are not lax and don't let the children goof off or be lazy, but they also don't treat them too harshly or raise their voices to them. Parents are welcome to stay and watch class or even participate. There are several parents in the classes whose children are also in the club, including several instructors.
Class size and number of instructors vary per class, although the instructor/student ratio is generally good, usually about 1/7 for adults and 1/12 for children. Most classes have at least two instructors present. Since there are generally at least two instructors per class, equal attention is paid to the adults and children.
At the time of this writing, there are five black-belt instructors (4 first-degree, 1 second-degree) and two adult brown-belt assistant instructors, although there are several other black belts and brown belts who train or come by occasionally but do not instruct on a regular basis. All of the instructors compete on a regular or semi-regular basis.
One small downside to the club is the actual gym in which classes are taught. Since the gym is somewhat small, standup randori is sometimes arranged so that the adult and youth classes are alternated, making for less randori time for both. Still, most of the time the adults and children can fit onto the mat.
Although the Judo Club itself offers little in terms of workout equipment aside from mat space and gis, registering for the club also provides membership for the YWCA, which has a small gym and a pool.
For me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the Princeton Judo Club is the family-friendly atmosphere. Every single person in the club is friendly to a fault, especially the instructors. Since the club is not-for-profit, the instructors teach out of their love of judo and students are never pressured to sign any contacts or buy anything. Members introduce themselves to all newcomers after class is finished, with the result that everybody knows everybody else's name; there are no unfamiliar faces after a few weeks at the club. Although training is focused, members get to know each other during breaks and before and after class. Egos and bad language are expected to be left at the door. The club generally feels very personal and open, which makes for a great training environment.
Overall, the level of instruction and amount of personal attention is very high, youth and adult classes are both very well run, and the environment is extremely friendly. I highly recommend this club for those interested in learning judo in the Princeton area.
Last edited by ViciousFlamingo; 5/24/2007 1:27pm at .