Aikido and Kendo Center/Michigan (Toyoda Center)
I am from New York and was on a 3 month assignment in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I looked around for a good Bjj/MMA school as well as a decent Aikido school. My main interest was MMA since I'm a cop and have studied Aikido for well over 20+ years and enjoy the challenge of new styles.
While I trained briefly at a couple schools in and around the Grand Rapids, MI area I ended up finding the Toyoda Center via an internet search. I sent an inquiry email and got an immediate reply from the director inviting me to observe classes and take a "tour" of the facility. That wasnt the typical response I've gotten in my travels so my intrigue got the best of me and I stopped by.
I saw immediately why they offered "tours" of their facility! It was one of the cleanest, most well maintained, well appointed, not gaudy, martial arts dojos I have ever been in, and I've been in hundreds! The whole building was approximately 4500 square feet (if I remember the tour correctly) with about 1200-1300 sf of nice tatami space for Aikido and Kendo. They also had a nice room they called the "zendo" for meditation and other classes. They have a dining room, a full kitchen, nice changing rooms, two full (clean!) showers, a full laundry facility, a lounge, and two rooms with loft style sleeping quarters for a very unique "live-in" student program. While I was there training for about 2 months they had 1 full time live-in student who pretty much took care of the place, took most of the Aikido classes and worked in the office.
It was defintely a unique place since it had Aikido, which is typically a more refined training style than a lot of other martial arts and not generally associated with MMA or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training. However, the 2 disparate groups seemed to co-exist nicely together.
The business seemed very profesionally run with very well trained instructors for each of the arts. The Bjj/MMA program is run by a local police officer named Clint who, I must say, for his small size (probably 5'8" and 138lbs dripping wet) was one of the best BJJ instructors I have had the good fortune of training with. His assistants were also very well trained and very friendly. The classes were ass-kicking high energy cardio masterpieces with some monster "rolling" sessions.
While there, I trained in both the MMA classes and the Aikido classes. My experience in both arts was honestly one of the best training expereinces in my many years (and they didnt pay me to say that). The main Aikido instructor is Blaine Feyn (spelling?) who, apparently, studied for a while as a live-in student under Sensei Toyoda (Chicago), thus the dojo name. His experience showed when he taught as he really has a nice and very compelling method of teaching, not to mention a pretty powerful hip throw. I also had the good fortune of taking some Police tactics classes under Sensei Feyn and he has some tactics I have never seen anywhere else. What impressed me the most about his Aikido and tactical stuff was that he, too, like the BJJ/MMA instructor Clint, is a fairly "regularly" sized individual; 5'8" to 5'10", 180 -190lbs. Not that it matters but being an officer, and a big one (6'2", 225lbs), I am used to training sessions at the department with these big ass trainers that can throw anything on anyone but the guys I worry about in the street are the little guys who might know something.
I was pleasantly surprised and impressed with both Blaine and Clint's command of their chosen arts. They are both really great instructors!
Although I dont know if I'll ever make it back down that way as I'm back in NYC, I really got a lot from my training there and am ever grateful to Blaine and Clint for the training and the awesome dojo they've built.
They have two BJJ black belts (Clint Crabtree and Fernando Neto) and a purple belt (Bryan Litwin).
Sites for the BJJ/MMA side:
The BJJ/MMA portion has moved to Michigan Xtreme: http://www.grbjj.com/?p=3015#more-3015