Germantown/Rockville MD - Jeff Gordon Self Defense Academy (formerly Karate Zone)
This review is mainly of the Rockville school. But the main instructor Jeff teaches (it could be called that) at both. It is mainly his business mentality, characterized by a huckster-ish sales pitch and ego-driven BS that made my experience go sour. Others may/may not agree. Originally this was a Royce Gracie Network school, but after the Royce Gracie fight (and loss) w/Matt Hughes this 'business-dojo' dropped that name like a hot rock and allied itself with One Spirit Martial Arts in Herndon, VA as a Pedro Sauer network school. Both Pedro and Dave (a BJJ purple belt instructor) from OSMA are AWESOME, no idea why they're involved with this school.
Some positives first, just to be fair:
-there are many good students, most of whom work hard to learn in a friendly atmosphere.
-recently added 6th degree Black Belt Pedro Sauer to the instructor staff, his instruction soon became the only reason to attend classes. Its unknown if he's aware of the busniess model to which he has attached his name.
-Krav Maga, no nonsense highly spirited self defense classes.
The negatives, in no particular oder:
-students are 'sold' over-priced gear, cheap golves (century), cheap gi's (until they recently became an Atama wholesaler), 'mandatory' patches & t-shirts; most of which is gear you can buy online for 1/3 the cost the school demands.
-the school changes its training schedule every 5-6 weeks, including at one point just deciding not to offer BJJ during the daytime at all, all of this makes it extremely difficult for anyone who works or has a life outside martial arts to attend on a regular schedule.
-A kids' karate school type atmosphere with lots of master sensei BS from the main intructor Jeff (a purple belt), which goes against the no ego/no attitude ideas prevalent among most BJJ schools.
-Every holiday the school shuts down for a long weekend, again making it difficult to get a regular schedule.
-The school runs all of these BS 'knife defense', 'women's rape prevention', 'carjack defense' etc etc ad naseum seminars all sold at anywhere from $50-100 per attendeee, along with constant reminders before and after every class, spam e-mail, the works. Not to mention that these classes will take place instead of the classes you pay for on Saturdays.
-Little to no regard for student safety or well-being. After a recent injury where a snap was heard and stopped class the instructor actual kept rolling himself (yeah, he wasn't supervising or teaching anything) and later was overheard talking smack about how 'that's what happens when students are too aggressive..."
-On that note many of the twenty-ish college age students think thy're in training for the cage and there's some very classic examples of ego induced grudge matches occurring whenever Pedro Sauer is not around.
-Offers a 30 day trial program but doesn't hold 'intro' style classes for these newbies, just thows them in with the herd, no intro or beginners level at all. When rolling most of these new guys are trying to kill you like their life depended on it.
Ok, so I'm sour about my experiences with this guy, but I looked into BJJ for a long time before I started training, without knowing much about what to look for myself. Maybe even 1 other person will not fall for his line of BS if they read this, and that will make writing this worth my time. So I'd like to just put it out there that this guy is just running a business, and he constantly slips and lets you know how little he actually cares about instruction. Like when he taught a prep class for a Krav Maga level 2 test and talked the whole time about cutting corners and passing around the written test answers before the test during his KM instructor course out in LA, or told us to only go hard while the testers are paying attention and slack off when their backs were turned. I mean, who says things like that to students?! Other highlights of instruction with him involve him having an on-going tough-guy posturing battle of the mouth with the next door dry cleaners and blaming a former instructor who left out of loyalty to the Royce Gracie network for anything and everything he could (again in front of students).
Enough about him and his school, lastly though I have to say that all of the classes and the level of instruction by Black Belt Pedro Sauer is phenomenal, luckily he teaches in Virginia at One Spirit Martial Arts, so you can get his instruction nearby without dealing with Jeff Gordon Self Defense picking your pockets and wasting your time w/BS.
Word on the street is they hired Christian Medina from the DC school. He was a L6 in KM (brown belt) when I last trained under him and far and beyond the best instructor I've ever had. (If anyone knows the truth behind this please contact me. I no longer live in the area or I'd investigate myself.)
I whole heartedly agree with the submitter about Jeff. He is most definitely more a salesman than a true teacher. In fact, the only true teacher that I could identify when I was there was Chad (the guy who left out of loyalty to Gracie), and I didn't even do BJJ, I was there for Krav. Otis is a very experienced guy and there's no doubt he's damn good with reality based fighting, but he's just not a very good teacher.
Also, very good point about too many students acting like they're training for their big UFC break. While no "grude matches" developed while I was there, I could see how it was the environment that would brew such unsafe training. I hope Christian can put an end to that.
your beef with Jeff is crap.
I have trained at other academys and Jeffs is as good or better. He takes a great deal of time in teaching BJJ where other places just throw you into grappling. The schools are clean and well maintained. Anyone who takes this much time writing a unabomber like manifesto is obviously personal. You are probably someone who knows Jeff and got his ass kicked. If your going to attack someones character you should do it in public so they can at least defend themselves. You are just a forum *****, stop bitching and moaning and grow a spine.
So the two schools have become one in a new location (Gaithersberg). Jeff has acquired a few new instructors such as the likes of Aaron Riley (UFC, Bodog, Pride, etc) and Robert Crawford (boxing coach).
The new place has a nice cage and a cheap boxing ring. I believe the training facility is 6,000 square feet and has both locker rooms and showers (both of which were not ready on the opening day). I believe that the classes offered are BJJ (taught by Pedro Sauer 2x a week and other BJJ classes are taught by Jeff Gordon), No Gi submission wrestling (taught by aaron riley and jeff gordon), muay thai (taught by Otis Berry), Boxing (Robert Crawford, MMA (taught by Aaron Riley and Otis Berry) and Krav Maga (taught by 4 different Krav instructors). The facility has a large main room (generally taken up by the BJJ and Krav classes and a smaller room (reserved for MMA, NoGi and Muay Thai. I imagine that the boxing will be held in the smaller room since the boxing ring has yet to be fully assembled.
Last edited by dinnerpig; 10/29/2007 12:11pm at .
lklejne1, thanks for your input.
I'd definitely consider Pedro to be an "A-List" instructor, however according to the scoring guidelines, a 10 in Grappling also indicates "proven success in limited restriction, top level competitions".
Does Pedro teach there regularly and do the students have a good record at the Pan Ams, Mundials, etc?
Please feel free to review the review guidelines here and write your own report, detailing your experiences with each category.
Last edited by sdave; 9/05/2007 10:00am at .
Originally Posted by jnp
I have heard nothing but bad things about this school and instructor. I had a friend that checked it out and described the grappling as 'sloppy'. Is this still the case? Sure Jeff might be a salesman but things could be a lot worse. How is the academy now that they have Pedro and Aaron, do they teach there often?
I emailed this spot about a week and a half ago w/r if they allowed drop ins and what the fee would be. I did however get a few sales pitches.
Review of Jeff Gordon's
I recently moved out to the Washington, DC area (about 4 months ago). Before I moved out here, I used to train in BJJ, Muay Thai and MMA on the west coast. I am a brown belt in BJJ and have had a handful of amateur MMA fights (4-1). Before moving out here, I checked out this and other forums for good schools to train at. I read the first couple of posts and was initially turned off by jeff gordon's mma academy (they changed their name), however, I still went in to check the place out on my own (and a couple other places)-----and I am glad I did. I decided to train at jeff gordon's. Here is my reivew of the place, hopefully someone out there will benefit from it:
-Professor Sauer...he is an incredible instructor, I believe he is a 7th degree? black belt. Have learned a lot in the short time period i have been training with him
-Aaron Riley...outstanding MMA fighter, in the short time I have been training at the school, I've learned a lot from him
-Jeff Gordon...a bjj purple belt, very technical in his teachings, great instructor
-Otis Barry?...great instructor (he teaches Krav), I actually started taking Krav to give me an advantage in the cage
-Nice facility - it's pretty big, two mats to rolle on. They have a cage, but I haven't gotten a chance to trained in it yet
-Wide array of programs
-Sometimes you encounter a kid who is there to be a fighter just out of his youthful stupidity and they don't focus on learning much, just the use of force...but that's not the schools fault (the good thing is that classes are separated by rank so you can roll with your own level)
I don't know about the boxing program they have because I am not a boxer (although everyone can use a little work on their striking :la: ), but I hear their instructor is good and has some champs under him
I live about 30 minutes away from the school, but it's worth the drive.
The other schools/academy I went to actually wanted me to take an intro class...AND they wouldnt let me grapple....I am a brown belt....i don't need an intro class.
Lesson to be learned: don't judge a book by its cover...or it's reviews...people have different experiences, read the reviews and go check out the place yourself. i'm glad i went in to all the places after reading reviews.
bjjscrapper, thanks for the review, did you by chance get to try out the Evolve Academy in Germantown? If so, how was it?
I did check out Evolve. I met Mike Moses, very nice guy (although he wanted the students to call him Master, I'm not for that). Honestly, I was more interested in an MMA program, and they didnt have a strong one. Otherwise, good facility. You should head over there and check the programs out, in the end it's all a matter of preference. Don't be swayed by my or someone else's review, just use it as supplemental information.
I did also check out a school in Rockville...I don't remember the name of it right now. It was more of a BJJ school. Yakasami? something liek that, I'll find out what the name is and post a review later.