Posted On:11/19/2007 8:32am
Style: Hybrid Wrestling / BJJ
The first thing I'll say about this gym is that it's a hell of a pain to find. Located in the basement on a minor street, I spent about 20 minutes wandering around trying to find it (it's much easier now to find now. The sign with the giant recognizable Pancrase logo was being repaired the day I was looking). Everything after that has been great.
This is one of Pancrase's amateur gyms, and the home gym of most of the professional fighters in the PancraseISM affiliation.
A typical class is about 15 minutes warmup, 20-30 minutes of drilling, and about 20-30 minutes of sparring/rolling, though this does vary considerably beyond the warmup stage. 3 classes are offered every weeknight, and Sunday is 4 hours of open mat.
Grappling instruction is taught mostly by Satoru Kitaoka (Yuki Nakai black belt with probably the nastiest guillotine in MMA) and Hikaru Sato. Kitaoka's class usually follows the format of introducing and breaking down a technique - application, defense, escapes, counters, countering the counters. Sato usually teaches his strengths - namely wrestling, conditioning, and leglocks. I've had to puke from Sato's grappling conditioning classes on more than one occasion.
One thing worth noting, though is that it may be difficult to learn from these guys, Kitaoka especially, if you don't speak Japanese. Kitaoka is undeniably great at what he does, and his students are proof of that. However, as far as I know, he speaks little to no English, and I progressed a bit slower than students who started the same time as me and put in comparable effort. It's completely possible that I suck at grappling, but I think I could have grasped some of the nuances better had I been able to understand what he was saying (in addition to sucking at grappling).
Striking is taught primarily by Takafumi Ito and Ryo Kawamura. Ito is one of the elder statesmen of Pancrase, going back to the days of stripper boots, rope escapes and ten-counts, and Kawamura is one of the fastest rising stars in Japanese MMA. Ito is a veteran who has seen it all and can show and coach every facet of the game, and Kawamura is full of energy and has a natural talent for both MMA and teaching. I had the good luck to be the only one at open mat a few times with him, and his coaching has helped my striking game significantly.
There are also dedicated exercise/conditioning classes - a stretching and low-impact class led by Daisuke Watanabe, and conditioning hell taught by Hikaru Sato.
One thing finally worth noting - both instructors and students were unanimously welcoming of and friendly to me, despite the fact that I am a big ugly foreigner with Japanese skills that are mediocre at best. Unfortunately, this cannot be said of every school in Japan. I had been refused from both judo and karate schools prior to finding P's Lab. At first, people were a bit hesitant to spar with me, which I forgive them, as I was almost always the biggest in the class (210lbs) and they knew I didn't understand 100% of what was being said. Once everyone figured out I wasn't going to try slams, neck cranks and the like, they warmed up. After they discovered I had never grappled before, suddenly everyone wanted to roll with me. I think it became a competition, especially in my first few months of who can tap out the big guy the most in one session. I've learned how to stall, though, so it's getting harder!
In conclusion, if you're looking for MMA in the Tokyo/Yokohama area, I definitely recommend P's Lab. They have a Tokyo affiliate as well, but I've never been, so I can't say anything. It's a bit small (enough matspace for about ten comfortably plus a ring, but space often isn't an issue), but the teachers and students are all friendly and knowledgeable. If you don't speak the language, it may take awhile to get used to, but the effort is well worth it. I have to leave Japan in a week and a half and I'm missing training there already.
Posted On:9/05/2009 11:25pm
Hi my name is Jose and I would like to know where P's lab is located? I would like to take the train but looks kind of difficult to find. Thank you for your help.
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