Full Circle Martial Arts (Newark, Delaware)
This is a review of Full Circle Martial Arts, located in Newark, Delaware. Website URL is fcmastudio .com I have been a student here for about a year and a half. The owner and instructor is Jermaine Jackson.
The instructor has experience in Judo, Karate, Japanese Jiu Jitsu and Pekiti Tirsia Kali. What he has developed and teaches is an amalgamated form known as the "Full Circle" style. It takes the weapon work from Kali, the striking from Karate, Kali and Jiu Jitsu and the grappling from Jiu Jitsu and Judo.
One thing that is made clear is that you are not learning the entirety of four different arts. Instead, techniques and skills are taught for the several ranges of combat drawing from all the above arts. However, the ranks are tested using a formulated curriculum that students are given, and that draw from these different styles. For example, when testing for yellow belt, a Karate kata is used, along with several jiu jitsu/ judo break falls, among other things.
I break this down for the simple fact that, while advertising that the school teaches several styles, if one calls and asks if it an MMA school, the answer will be no. Being close to the University of Delaware, there are several "MMA" schools. These schools tout themselves as preparing students for the "octogon". This school, instead, makes it clear that the focus is on "street applicability".
Classes are divided as Monday, Wednesday being curriculum and striking and Tuesday, Thursday being Kali and grappling. Friday is reserved for open mat and students are encouraged to attend in order to experiment with techniques in different scenarios.
Adults are trained in the evening and classes are taught by the owner. New students may be broken off and aided by senior students in the basics, especially during the first few classes, but the owner is always present and very approachable.
Child care during the day and after school care are a focus here. But, the classes for adults are adults only. The classes for adults are small and average about 5 people a class.
Class starts with warm ups/ calisthenics for 5 to 15 minutes, along with stretching. Then drills with pads. For example, a punch-jab combo with a knee. After drills, a technique. For example, an arm bar taking down to the ground. Finally, application. For example, block a jab, counter with a punch-jab combo, transition a grab to an arm bar, knee, the take to the ground. (This is all just an example to show the progression of a class (drill the basics, learn a technique, learn an application combining the above). The class ends with a synopsis and open forum for questions.
The facility is a small, but dedicated strip mall location with mats. The school is set to move to a larger facility in the same strip mall in the next month or so. Equipment (pads, sticks, blades, mitts, gloves) is readily available and clean. Students are encouraged to acquire their own gear in their own time, but equipment is always available for use. When students get their own equipment, they do not need to order from the school, but if they do, the owner passes whatever discounts he gets on to the students without profit seeking.
I am in Law Enforcement and two other students are in the bail bondsman business with another student working at a mental health in patient facility. We all look for applicability, and get it here. Additionally, all the students are supportive of one another. If someone wants to work on something, there is someone there to help them and there is generally a positive atmosphere.
Standard karate gi's with belt are the uniform here, although the gi top does not need to be worn for most classes. Several times a year training is done outside in street clothes to help with application outside the dojo and off the mat. Rank testings are done on an infrequent basis when students are ready. After a year, I have my green belt. Our most senior current student is a brown belt who has been a student for several years.
Testing is done with the owner, along with one or more of his instructors. He will bring in one of his instructors to teach a class or two when he is unavailable. Also, if you want to expand your knowledge in one particular art that is taught, he will gladly refer you to one of his instructors. (I've been able to take a few classes with his Kali instructor, Agalon Rob Walker in Pennsylvania.) The owner encourages expanding your knowledge of the martial arts, but asks that a student learn a good foundation first, usually after the obtain green belt, so you are not "school hopping" and just learning tricks.
The school does not focus on tournaments. In fact, to my recollection, no student has participated in one in my time there. But, neither have I seen any students express a driving interest to enter one. Sparring with protection does take place and, occasionally, the owner has asked students from other schools to attend.
In conclusion, I know this review is longer than many on this forum, but I wanted to draw as complete a picture as possible. The owner shows a love in the martial arts. The school is well rounded with small classes and affordable rates (I won't post them here, since they may change and this post will remain for a while). It is not perfect, but in this area, (and I went to almost a dozen area schools before deciding on this one) I consider it one of the best schools around and I am glad to be here.