New York, NY - New York Jiu Jitsu
New York Jiu Jitsu is a school founded and headed by Sensei Jason McCarthy, a third-degree black belt in American Jiu Jitsu, and also founder of the MIT branch of the American Jiu Jitsu school. American Jiu Jitsu was developed by O'Sensei Joe Puleio, whose credentials include seventh-degree black belts in two Japanese Jiu-Jitsu schools (further credentials on the website).
The Reviewer: My prior martial art experience was a year of McDojo TKD in Ohio, at a school run by a fat man who couldn't kick above his knee. In addition, he borrowed a large sum of money from my father and then vanished. I use this experience to gauge the bullshido content of the school.
The Negative: There are so many positive qualities to the dojo that I will begin with the negatives. The school puts a great deal of emphasis on Ippons (choreographed counterattacks, which are drilled many, many times), particularly at the lower levels. If students assume they are capable of defending themselves because they have a five-strike combo memorized if the assailant happens to grab their wrist, they may someday have a rude awakening.
As the belt testing is mostly based on successfully performing these choreographed routines, it can lead to people having higher ranks who would clearly get the snot knocked out of them in a real street situation. That being said, the higher ranks (purple, brown, black) have a far more rigorous testing system, and students will not attain those ranks unless their skills are at the correct level.
There are also many belt levels (I believe 16 to get to black), which is a bit irritating.
The student must supply the initiative (ie to ask for faster punches, more resistance), and take responsibility for pushing themselves. That is not necessarily a bad thing, although it isn't uncommon to see students "going through the motions".
The Positive: Balance - the school is ideal for people who are interested in a martial art for self-defense purposes, do not have the time or energy to devote to a more rigorous MMA school, and would like some degree of formality and ritual. Classes are generally fun and engaging, while capable of being challenging. For this reason it is an exciting prospect to train, and never feels like a burden.
Instruction - the instructors are very knowledgeble, realistic people. There is no "one style" bullshido, and instructors are all fans of MMA and sport fighting. As the instructors blend their knowledge into their teaching, a typical class may include some aspect of Muay Thai, BJJ, boxing, etc. They are also very supportive, but realistic. Anyone who lets their guard down while training will be corrected immediately.
The Style - American Jiu Jitsu is approximately 70% stand-up and 30% ground, with the ground being more prevalent in the higher ranks. There is also some stick-and-knife work at the higher levels as well (I'm not there yet). Practicality supercedes all in training, which is a major plus. Eye gouges, fishooks, bear claws, and all other manner of dirty tricks are taught and encouraged in life-or-death situations. While much of the training is based on choreographed routines, the instructors emphasize the reality that on the street such combinations are unlikely to work exactly as planned.
Although I haven't been in any fights since my training, one experience showed its effectiveness. While I was washing dishes, my girlfriend snuck up behind me and pressed behind my knee. My arm went instinctively out to prepare for an upper rear elbow, to be followed by a lower rear elbow from the other side (thankfully, I was able to stop myself before doing serious damage to both her and my love life). Although it wasn't a real "street" situation, I realized the Ippon training is effective in getting the student to react in combinations, rather than in single attacks.
Possibly my favorite aspect of the training is the concept of "defensive stance", a way to put yourself in a ready (but non-threatening) position while attempting to diffuse a situation through talking.
Classes - there are a number of classes available, including a cardio focused grappling class, striking and ground workouts with pads (which are no picnic, believe me!) and classes to teach the appropriate techniques for beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels. By selecting a combination of classes, most students can craft a training schedule that will challenge and improve them.
Money - The school is not terribly expensive, considering it is situated in the incredibly expensive SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan. This brings me to the best point of the dojo - Sensei Jason is a very successful trader (I believe bonds). The school is not run as a money-making enterprise, but rather more like a club of enthusiasts. Many of the instructors have lucrative day jobs, and are teaching not to support themselves (or bilk students, as in my prior experience). That should give an idea of the environment of the school.
Overall: While having some Bullshido elements (many belt levels, choreographed combinations), NYJJ is a good fit for students who would like to learn a practical system of self defense in a positive environment. I would recommend it highly to everyone excepting people who intend to compete immediately in MMA (although it could provide a solid competitive foundation), and those long-haired goofballs who would prance around with bo staffs when I was in college.
EDIT: As the school has moved to a new space, I have increased the gym size to 9. I expect in the next few months the equipment will improve as well.
Last edited by ZombieApocalyps; 4/05/2007 9:45am at .
"""""The school puts a great deal of emphasis on Ippons (choreographed counterattacks, which are drilled many, many times), particularly at the lower levels. If students assume they are capable of defending themselves because they have a five-strike combo memorized if the assailant happens to grab their wrist, they may someday have a rude awakening."""""""
Yet you give them a 9 rating in Aliveness? Dosen't sound right to me at all.
First, I mentioned that the focus on prepared responses is weighted towards the beginner, which is a good way to familiarize the student with executing blocks and strikes, as well as creating combos and getting into locks. Advanced students develop their own styles and are not so bound.
Second, I interpreted "Aliveness" as the energy and positivity of the classes, which in general are very high. I feel much better after each class than before.
Third, if "Aliveness" is actually a rating of street/sport applicability, I still stick by my 9 rating. The advanced classes are quite intense, and grappling classes and free sparring are taught by a Renzo Gracie brown belt. The conditioning classes are quite intense as well.
Fourth, it essentially comes down to the individual student. This is not the same as training at a hardcore BJJ or Muay Thai studio, and students train at their own pace. I personally bring it as hard as I can when I train, and the majority of students share my intensity.
Finally, come to the school and take a trial week, and you can make your own judgement.
You probably shouldn't give a score on a criteria you don't understand. Based on your description the school warrants around a 3 on the aliveness scale.
A year or so ago, a guy who identified himself as one of their assistant instructors came to visit my BJJ school. He was quite surprised that the class went longer than an hour. He also explained to me the name of each of the techniques that I used to tap him. Good for him for wanting to cross train, but I believe the grappling instruction number may be a little high, too.
Ok, I've done searching on google and looked at multiple reviews here, and yes, I do not understand. UpaLumpa, how would you, in a single, concise sentence, define "Aliveness"?
Originally Posted by UpaLumpa
Because I've seen reviews where it refers to self-defense applicability, which in this case the 9 rating stands because all techniques and classes are geared towards direct self-defense application. I've also seen it referred to real-life situations, which would mean a 10 rating entails loaded weapons and sharpened knives.
I'm not being defensive, I just want to be clear before I change my rating again.
MadeOfOlives, I'm not sure which assistant instructor you met, but things have already changed in the 7 months I've been training, in the way of new classes and curriculums for ground fighting.
Here are the BJJ Instructor's credentials - http://nyjiujitsu.com/AP-Instructors.htm#aaron
Actually you might see the assistant you met on that page, it would be interesting to find out who it was...
The ratings, by their very nature, have to be personal, so while the ground rating might be something lower for a BJJ purple belt or above, for my level of experience there are few things I could imagine that would improve on it. Hence, the 9 rating.
Anyways, I thank you guys for checking the review and offering feedback. The school does offer a free week of classes, so I heartily encourage you to stop by and take a class or two and put your own rating up here.
Looked at the schedule- lots going on. If I do a trial week, what classes would you recommend I take?
Ok, the school has now moved (check the website for the new address) to a new dojo with much more mat space, larger changing rooms, etc. New classes are also likely to be put into the schedule, although it isn't certain when that will happen.
Now, as my understanding has grown, I would say the aliveness when I began training would be about a 3. However, the grappling program has expanded, such that there are more opportunities to go live, and I would currently put it at a 5. As the school is planning on expanding the program (possibly to include Judo and Muay Thai), this rating will (hopefully) change again in the not-too-far future.
As far as a suggestion for the week, I would definitely recommend the BJJ class, the Striking Workout, and the Cardio Xcape workout. I'm sure Aaron would have no problem with you hanging out for the advanced grappling class if you have prior experience.
Obviously it would be important to check out the intro Japanese style classes to get a feel for how the school teaches the core curriculum, although I would recommend observing an advanced class to get an understanding of where it leads.
And to be perfectly honest, although the Japanese style is the main focus of the school, I (and a number of other students) have been much more focused on the groundwork for a while now.
Looking over their site, I noticed that they have the potential warning signs of a "Black Belt Club" with mentions of other things that sound like pay levels ("Ultimate" etc) as well as $100/hr private instruction. This seems to contrast a little with your statements about how the school leans away from being commercial / instructors aren't in it for the money; any thoughts? Other than that, it does look like a decent place, so I might check it out at some point :)
I've got other questions about the style itself but I can email you about that if you'd like, not sure it's appropriate for review comments.
Questions are cool, feel free to shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'll look into your questions, because 1) I'm not in the Black Belt Club, and 2) I've never taken a private lesson. I'm not certain if the BBC has heightened fees, because I've heard different things from different people.
If you've looked at the site, you know there are a number of instructors. For some of them, what they earn at the dojo might be an important source of income. However, the founder of the school, Sensei Jason, is a successful bond trader, and if you spend time at the school it's pretty clear that it's more a labor of love than an investment. It feels more like a community than anything.
That's not saying I've looked at their books or anything, and I really don't know anything about the different membership levels (I just have a basic year-long membership). They don't seem draconian with the number of classes you can attend, at least in my experience.
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