Mark Moore Karate/Jujutsu, Norcross GA
I trained under Mark Moore about a year ago, and it was a lot of fun while it lasted although ultimately not what I was looking for. I was with them for 8 months and had just traded in my white belt for an orange one before moving on.
Shihan Moore teaches Shito-ryu Karate and Hakko-ryu Jujitsu with the overall goal of teaching effective self-defense. Let's talk about the karate. The majority of the focus is on perfecting katas and basic techniques. Training either meant doing line drills, kata, or practicing strikes on a bag. The instructor to student ratio is good (there are 4 black belts in addition to MM last time I counted) and they will not hesitate to correct your posture, hand position, or give you a thwack on the leg to remind you to widen that stance. MM will get you as close to perfect as you can possibly get, and I cannot stress that enough. Don't be surprised if you're spending thirty minutes doing the first move of a kata over and over again. The result of course is some of the sharpest looking forms you will ever see.
This type of training is interspersed with the occasional one/three step sparring but it's MM's own original workouts that make his classes interesting. I remember this one drill called "Blue Lips", where you and your partner would punch each other in the stomach until one of you got, well you know. It was an interesting conditioning drill amidst all the kata work, and there were many other similar ones that works the forearms and knuckles.
Next is the Jujitsu, which generally takes up a larger portion of the classes. This includes learning the basic Shodan techniques for beginners, various defenses against punches, knives, headlocks etc. and some grappling.
The basic techniques consist of the standard "grab the wrist, apply a wrist lock, repeat" that you see in aikido. However, these techniques tend to be more direct and simple. There are separate defenses against punches, full nelsons, kicks, wrist grabs, headlocks, knife attacks, stick attacks, and also a bevy of gun disarms. For the standard karate punch alone, there are at least 20 different things you can do, which can be anything from wrist locks to chokes to calf-crushes. The drills consists of one attacker and one defender.
Lastly is the grappling portion, which is basically Judo minus the groundwork and focus on randori. You'll work your Ogoshis and the like, but the lack of aliveness and groundwork in this particular aspect was a turnoff for me. All the throws you practice are compliant, and I never saw any real sparring unless it was the occasional after class roll.
Again, even with the Jujitsu the emphasis is on perfecting your technique. This is mostly done through constructive criticism from the instructor and a lot of repetition.
The sparring was a disappointment, Firstly, it's only done about twice a month or so, and even then it's non continuous point sparring. That means one, you cannot hit full force, and two, when you do hit, the fight restarts. Granted, some sweeps are allowed and you're encourage to use throws, but considering the vast amount of techniques you're taught, it's barely acceptable. I did get a good workout though, since sparring sessions usually go for about 30 minutes with little rest.
What makes MM Karate and Jujitsu standout is the atmosphere. These guys are very laid back and fun when they want to be (Mark Moore is a licensed comedian, how many blackbelts can claim that?) but can lay the smackdown on you when the time comes. I always got a good laugh during the warm ups, and the "Sexual Harassment Defense" class we had this one time was hilarious.
MM's school only charges $50 a month with no contracts, and training is Monday and Wednesday nights from 7:30 to 9:30 with occasional classes on Friday nights. MM is not out to make a huge profit, and IMO trains for the love of the art. :qright5: