Tucson, Arizona - Enshin Karate
It's been a half year, so that means it's time for me to review the dojo for my primary style: Enshin Karate. As always, I will review the actual class experience sequentially, as according to the ratings.
Introduction: The Warm Up Process;
The warm up consists of basic stretches for all the areas, then basic technique practice via air abuse, and generally consumes the first 20-so minutes of class. Sadly, actual conditioning is utterly lacking, so one won't be getting awesome muscles from this, but at least they won't pull anything while training.
I rate this a six, as, while the sparring is hard contact, energetic, and typically utterly devoid of any sort of padding, it is waaaay too infrequent. Even if it is awesome Kyokushin style sparring, it isn't going to be much help if we only do it a few minutes a month. The only thing which prevents me from pulling the Worthless Ripcord and bailing out, in order to focus on boxing/mma or starting Judo, is that, for one, I fucking love Kyokushin, and this is basically the only Kyokushin this side of Phoenix, and two, according to one of the brown belts, there have been months where the only thing they've done is pad work and sparring. This gives me hope that, eventually, the sensei will stop coddling us and kick our asses.
I rate this as a four, as we have an old heavy bag and some thai pads. The thai pads we use frequently, but the bag not so much. We've been using the bag more lately, though. What we don't have, and seriously need, are pads for the hardwood floor, primarily so we can actually throw each other without breaking things.
Thirdly, Gym Size:
I rate this a four. What is it with Kyokushin/offshoots and basements? Well, technically, we don't train in the basement, we train in a YMCA in the aerobics room. Which is underground, kind of clammy, and embarrassing to be in. Like a basement.
Fourthly, Instructor/Student Ratio:
I rate this an eight, as classes typically consist of the sensei, a second degree black belt, and maybe five other people. Membership is low, possibly due to the training being too intense for someone who just wants laid back krotty, but not intense enough for someone who wants consistently hard karate
I rate this an eight, as everyone else is friendly and supportive, and the sensei is one of those completely offbeat and weird but likable old Kyokushin karateka, like Fug and Vieux Normand.
Sixthly, Striking Instruction:
I rate this a seven, as the striking we learn is almost entirely old school Kyokushin, minus some strikes and blocks the Kancho didn't like, and plus the basic sweeps and throws he mixed in from Judo. The sensei constantly checks and corrects how we strike, and has us using the thai pads or heavy bag almost every class, but I can't really rate it higher considering that we don't spar enough. If we did, I'd rate this an eight.
Seventhly, Grappling Instruction:
I rate this as a one, as the sensei taught us bridging once. Otherwise, throw then punch in head.
Eighthly, Weapons Instruction:
WEAPONS ARE FOR THE WEAK
In conclusion, the Tucson Enshin Karate dojo would offer badass Kyokushin offshoot training, if not for that the classes are TOO FUCKING SHORT. Seriously, only an hour per class isn't enough to really learn knockdown karate, as one must sacrifice either Kata or Kumite. Unfortunately, so far it seems like kumite got the axe instead of kata, which does not please me. I'm going to have to man up and get a bit more demanding on the "punching people" front.
On the plus side, there's minimal McDojo bullshit, as the tuition is 30 dollars lower than the average for Tucson, one can buy an Enshin gi for around 30 dollars or wear a plain white one, test fees are only 15$, include the belt, and only happen at Honbu regulated times, and, while there are a lot of brown belts, there's only one student blackbelt and he's been doing Enshin for about six years, and has a background in Kyokushin beyond that.
Still, sadly, as is I cannot recommend my dojo to anyone seeking hard contact training, and instead recommend the Sixth Street Gym, which I will be reviewing later.
I brought up my desire for hard contact sparring and throwing practice in our hard contact karate with throwing dojo, and the sensei concurred, so now there is about fifteen to twenty minutes of optional but recommended sparring after class on Saturdays, plus he found a crash pad in a storage room for doing takedowns on. It's not the hour of sparring in a week I got in Kyokushin, but it's a hell of a lot better than it was, so I'm happy, and so are the brownbelts.
Also, being slapped upside the head by the sensei while sparring is a rather good reminder to keep one's hands up. Also, it's pretty funny, at least to me.
I attend the same Enshin class and concur with most of Ironcastknight's assessment of the dojo but I have a different perspective on a few points.
Sensei is a true master of Enshin and also a highly experienced in fact expert teacher. The training intensity varies according to the median fitness level of the majority of the students. When ICK initially posted this review over half of the students were yellow belts and the intensity of training was gauged accordingly. As of now all of the students are green, brown, and black belts and both the training intensity and the complexity of techniques used have ratcheted up quite a bit.
On the whole I rate this school very highly across the board. I've studied a number of styles over the years and have studied under numerous teachers therefore I have some perspective on the relative merits of a given school.
I personally highly recommend this school and to anyone seeking a full contact style Karate. Enshin is by itself an excellent style to pursue and the sensei teaching it is among the very best, certainly the best sensei I've ever had the privilege to study under.
I promise you that you will not go wrong if you choose to learn Enshin karate at this school!
Last edited by ShinobiNeko; 3/01/2010 8:12pm at .
Reason: Additional information