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  1. TEA is offline
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    Posted On:
    5/18/2010 11:11pm

    Join us... or die
     Style: TKD, Relson GJJ, Judo

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    USA Mixed Martial Arts - Cleburne TX

    This isn't going to be a full on dojo review, since I just went to one free trial class tonight.

    As many of you know, I've been in a bit of a martial arts black hole since I moved from Austin a year and nine months ago. First, we lived in Hillsboro, which only had a craptastic TKD McDojang that is run by a pedophile. There was a US Karate Systems school in Cleburne, which is where I actually teach, that bills itself as an MMA school, but their adult classes start at 8:00 PM and Hillsboro is a 45 minute drive from Cleburne.

    We move up here to Cleburne this last December and I was intending on making a trip to USA MMA school a top priority come the new year. However, the death of my daughter on New Years Eve really took the wind out of my sails and has left me rudderless for the last five months, plus I had another jam packed semester that kept me busy with work late nights and weekends.

    So, the semesters over and I'm trying to move on with the healing process from my daughter's passing by getting back to doing things that I enjoy. So, tonight, I went to my first free trial class at the USA Mixed Martial school held out of the general purpose room at one of the better gyms in town. Classes are only one hour long and two days a week, which doesn't seem like much training time. One of the things that cut is the warmup - it's only about five to ten minutes of basic stretching with no cardio or plyometrics.

    I've had reservations about this school, since they bill themselves as an MMA gym and offer jiu jitsu, but the background of the head instructors looks like straight up American Karate Systems. Not to knock AKS. Ernst Lieb, the founder, learned Ji Do Kwan in Korea before the government pushed for the unification of the kwans under the TKD umbrella. Lieb came back to the US and tried to incorporate Western style boxing with Ji Do Kwan to make a more practical martial art. Since then AKS has been open to incorporating whatever works into their curriculum.

    That said, without any clear jitz lineage, I was a bit worried that they'd be teaching crappling. Well, today I was in luck, because the class was all about grappling.

    The first thing they drilled was the Gracie Gift pass, which I don't particularly like, but which the teacher seems very good at. I picked up a couple of minor points that make this pass work and avoid the triangle choke, but I think the instructor didn't really explain that part very well. He was executing it well, but not really explaining why what he was doing mitigates the chances of one's opponent locking in the triangle (controlling the hips and thigh, shooting one's passing knee up towards the opponent's shoulder while turning one's hips out of the guard, not letting one's opponent control the arm on the other side).

    We worked another guard pass, scissors sweep and a leg lock counter to scissors sweep, then rolled for the last 10 minutes of class. Over all, not great jiu jitsu instruction ala Phil Cardella, my GJJ instructor down in Austin (or any of the other Black Belts or Brown Belts at RG ATX), but not crappling. If I were to guess at a jiu jitsu rank for the instructor, who is a third dan in their system, I'd say he was a high blue or low purple.

    I asked after class how they schedule what they work on - grappling v.s. stand up v.s. mixing the two and the instructor told me that they work on a weekly schedule. One week grappling, one week stand up, one week MMA, and one week self defense - "real street oriented self defense as opposed to more competition oriented training." That last bit has me a bit worried. I can see some of the benefit of the weekly schedule approach, especially given their one hour time constraint, but think that the down side is that it leaves too much time between training skill sets to allow students to forget what they learned the month before.

    The instructor seems pretty laid back but focused at the same time. He looks to be in very good shape with no O'Sensei pot belly. Most of the students are in their late teens with a couple in their mid teens and maybe one in his twenties - making me the oldest guy in the room by far.

    Here's a link to their Web site - http://www.usamaa.com/
    Last edited by TEA; 5/18/2010 11:28pm at .
    Mushi mo atsui hodo
    Mushiatsui

    Originally Posted by chuey
    ...Well **** if that isn't the most anti-Mr. Miyagi **** I have heard in ages.

    Two wrongs don't make a right, but
    Three rights make a left.
  2. TEA is offline
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    Posted On:
    5/19/2010 7:46pm

    Join us... or die
     Style: TKD, Relson GJJ, Judo

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Oh, after looking more carefully at their Web site, the head instructor, Jason, claims to have crossed trained in Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai and have won a state championship collegiate Judo tournament at the black belt level. If the last is true, then perhaps I am being overly critical in my evaluation.
    Mushi mo atsui hodo
    Mushiatsui

    Originally Posted by chuey
    ...Well **** if that isn't the most anti-Mr. Miyagi **** I have heard in ages.

    Two wrongs don't make a right, but
    Three rights make a left.
  3. ausohj is offline

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    Posted On:
    5/20/2010 3:42am

    Bullshido Newbie
     Style: Shotokan Karate

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    I'm beginning to wonder why some schools even bother with 1 hour classes for adults. I think 2 hours should be the minimum but that's just me. As far as the instructors creds, fighters are only as good as their last fight. I usually hold instructors to the same expectation of quality but sometimes people slack off after gaining their latest belt or winning a tournament.
  4. TEA is offline
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    Posted On:
    5/20/2010 11:24pm

    Join us... or die
     Style: TKD, Relson GJJ, Judo

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    Update

    Went to my second and last free trial class tonight. Jason, the head instructor had promised up last class to dedicate this entire class to sparring since we only had ten minutes the last class. A couple of "the big dudes" showed up tonight who had missed the last class. Both of them are at least as old as me if not older and both are much bigger than me. One is probably about 6'3" or 6'4" and lean and muscular (I'm no good at guessing weights), the other guy seemed a bit younger and was around 6'2" and much heavier (not as big as Big Country, maybe a bit more like Cabbage).

    Keep in mind, this was my first time sparring since I injured my back last Summer (house hunting, pregnant wife, job - all kind of go in the way after my back got better) so I am extremely out of shape (OK, let's be honest, I'm old, fat and have almost no cardio), so even though this was only a one hour class, one hour of round robin sparring with six guys in and one guy out really taxed me. That said, I don't think I did too badly. Most of my bouts ended in a draw and I tapped about as much as I tapped others.

    So, overall impression of the school based on the students is that they have some pretty good grappling instruction. One of the late teen/early twenties kids, who is about my height (5'8") or maybe a skoshi taller but about the weight I use to be when I was his age (140lbs - 150lbs) was able to fairly consistently out maneuver me on the ground and got dominant position more often than not, but neither of us were able to sub the other. Of the two big guys, me and the tall lean guy consistently battled to what I would consider a draw. The big guy subbed me twice, I subbed him once, and the rest of the times were no subs but with him in a dominant position.

    I was able to talk with Jason a bit more after class to ask about his jiu jitsu/submission grappling background. He said that as for as jiu jitsu and grappling were concerned, he'd started off in high school with some traditional Japanese jiu jitsu and continued that in college at Steven F Austin. After college, he started training with Tra Telligman and Ken Shamrock in the '90s when they trained in Hearst, TX before starting the Lions Den up in DFW. After that, he just kind of picked up what he could from different people around the area. He was very honest, though, that most of his background is in stand up, though (Karate, Muay Thai, Krav Maga, Boxing) and made no claims as to any rank in jiu jitsu.

    So, at this point, I've decided to go ahead and sign up with them. I would prefer more training time, but this looks like the best option in the area. They don't make BS claims. They don't waste time in class talking about how bad ass their system is - they just train for the limited amount of time that they have. It's strictly month to month with no contract through the gym they teach at. Perhaps I can get some of the other students together for some informal training outside of class to up the contact hours. Also, I'm hoping to try and get Phil up here from Austin for seminars either through this school or Hill College. So far, I've been having a hard time working with the college, though.
    Mushi mo atsui hodo
    Mushiatsui

    Originally Posted by chuey
    ...Well **** if that isn't the most anti-Mr. Miyagi **** I have heard in ages.

    Two wrongs don't make a right, but
    Three rights make a left.
  5. Muerteds is offline

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    Posted On:
    5/21/2010 10:01am


     Style: Itinerant Wanderer

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    TEA, please accept my condolences for your loss. The fact that you have resumed training is a testament to your fortitude.

    Glad to hear you found some good martial arts in Cleburne. That was where I found a karate school teaching Black Dragon Karate, or something like that, years ago. Back in middle school years ago. Now, since you are actually in Johnson County, I will pimp a school again, since you can get to it. Ruben Martin's Judo teaches judo, jukoryu jujitsu, and the hanbo over in Burleson. The school he was teaching in just closed, last month, and rather suddenly. The folks he was leasing from doubled the rate so as to encourage their leaving. A shame. But, never one to let the lack of a building stop him, he's been building a dojo behind his house for a number of years, and I believe he's started teaching out of it as a necessity.

    Why mention all that? Because I don't go to his house very often, and can't give you directions to the place off the top of my head. It's easy enough to find with directions. Also, I don't know what the facilities are like. I have seen his new dojo. I can tell you that if you want to learn very good judo, Ruben Martin is the guy to go to. Attendance waxes and wanes at his schools, but the long-timers make it worth it. Plus, there's JJJ for all your wrist-locking needs, and you can learn to hit people with a stick.

    I think it's great you've found a place you're happy with in Cleburne, and don't wish to detract from that. However, I like Ruben's and go whenever I come home. I think you might like to check it out. If you're interested, I'll get you the details. Either way, the next time I head home to Godley, I'll let you know. With any luck you can play with a fellow out-of-shape Texan.
  6. TEA is offline
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    Posted On:
    5/21/2010 10:58am

    Join us... or die
     Style: TKD, Relson GJJ, Judo

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Muerteds View Post
    TEA, please accept my condolences for your loss. The fact that you have resumed training is a testament to your fortitude.

    Glad to hear you found some good martial arts in Cleburne. That was where I found a karate school teaching Black Dragon Karate, or something like that, years ago. Back in middle school years ago. Now, since you are actually in Johnson County, I will pimp a school again, since you can get to it. Ruben Martin's Judo teaches judo, jukoryu jujitsu, and the hanbo over in Burleson. The school he was teaching in just closed, last month, and rather suddenly. The folks he was leasing from doubled the rate so as to encourage their leaving. A shame. But, never one to let the lack of a building stop him, he's been building a dojo behind his house for a number of years, and I believe he's started teaching out of it as a necessity.

    Why mention all that? Because I don't go to his house very often, and can't give you directions to the place off the top of my head. It's easy enough to find with directions. Also, I don't know what the facilities are like. I have seen his new dojo. I can tell you that if you want to learn very good judo, Ruben Martin is the guy to go to. Attendance waxes and wanes at his schools, but the long-timers make it worth it. Plus, there's JJJ for all your wrist-locking needs, and you can learn to hit people with a stick.

    I think it's great you've found a place you're happy with in Cleburne, and don't wish to detract from that. However, I like Ruben's and go whenever I come home. I think you might like to check it out. If you're interested, I'll get you the details. Either way, the next time I head home to Godley, I'll let you know. With any luck you can play with a fellow out-of-shape Texan.
    Thank you very much. I will keep an eye and ear out. Downtown Burleson is about a half hour from my house, so it wouldn't be a long haul for quality Judo. Even if I could just make it once a week, it would be a good supplement to USA MMA. One of the best things about USA MMA is that it is really close to where I live and work (about five to ten minutes), which always make it easier to overcome lack of motivation on tough days.
    Mushi mo atsui hodo
    Mushiatsui

    Originally Posted by chuey
    ...Well **** if that isn't the most anti-Mr. Miyagi **** I have heard in ages.

    Two wrongs don't make a right, but
    Three rights make a left.
  7. TEA is offline
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    Posted On:
    6/11/2010 1:36am

    Join us... or die
     Style: TKD, Relson GJJ, Judo

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    UPATE II

    Just did my first week of stand up training at USAMMA. I had to miss last weeks classes because of a funeral down in Angleton for my wife's aunt. The week before that was self defense classes. Last week was MMA.

    Self defense classes - your basic Karate/Krav Maga type stuff.

    MMA classes - sorry I missed them. One of the students said that they worked on some takedowns, but mostly just sparred. Basic amateur MMA rule set, e.g. UFC sans elbows and knees.

    Stand up classes - like the grappling class, short warm up followed by sparring. Tuesday we did about 25 minutes of warm up, including stretching, wind sprints and shadow boxing; then 35 minutes of sparring. Two minute rounds with 30 second breaks, rotate partners and repeat. Tonight, we did a bit longer warm up with more and then 30 minutes of sparring.

    I asked one of the students before class if they ever work on technique with pad drills and such or if they basically just spar and he said that they do work on technique sometimes, but that it kind of goes in cycles - heavy on technique light on sparring, 50/50, and then all sparring. This guy had trained in boxing in junior high, high school and some in college, so when I sparred him tonight I asked him to just work hands with me, since that is my biggest weakness in stand up.

    Impressions of the stand up so far:
    1) I am really out of shape. Not just a little bit, but really out of shape. My cardio sucks, my reaction time is down, my timing is off, and I'm not controlling distance right.

    2) In addition to the above, my hands suck worse than ever. As long as I can keep things at kicking range, I can do alright, but at punching range I'm getting lit up like a pinball machine.

    3) The other students' abilities runs a pretty wide range based on their abilities. A couple of the students have obviously boxed before, as they have good hands but not great kicks or reactions to kicks. A couple of the more advanced students have fairly good kicks and hands.

    4) Contact level generally depends on experience level. I've had my bell rung a couple of times, but usually the other guy was hitting harder than he intended to. For the most part, its light to medium contact.

    5) I got to spar with Jason, the head instructor, a few times tonight (he sparred the whole time just like everyone else) and was very impressed. He hits pretty hard, but in control, e.g. just like I like it. Hard enough to make you not want to get hit and with some very occasional stars, but not hard enough to really ring my bell (cue Joe Rogan: "he just got rocked). He's got really good hands and kicks, which is what I'd expect for someone his level. He moves and punches much more like a kick boxer than a traditional Karateka. He was also really good about pointing out some of my bad habits, suggesting fixes, and then driving the point home with punches and/or kicks.

    Overall, so far, my biggest complaints are:

    1) Not enough training time. Two 1 hour classes a week just isn't enough.

    2) Probably because of 1), not enough time working technique. Of course, I've only been to five classes so far. If what the student mentioned above told me is correct, they do work technique, just not every class or every week of classes. I think this is probably a result of the classes being only one hour and the fact that they rotate their curriculum on a weekly schedule (Self defense, MMA, stand up, grappling), leaving a tough choice between getting enough training technique and sparring.

    3) Given 1) and 2), the self defense classes seem like a waste of valuable time. If they had more classes (i.e. three a week) that were longer (i.e. at least 1.5 hours but preferably 2 hours), I could see doing maybe 20 minutes of self defense a week. However, given the limited number or training hours, I think that week would be better spent dedicated to drilling basic techniques either in stand up, grappling or both.
    Last edited by TEA; 6/11/2010 1:40am at .
    Mushi mo atsui hodo
    Mushiatsui

    Originally Posted by chuey
    ...Well **** if that isn't the most anti-Mr. Miyagi **** I have heard in ages.

    Two wrongs don't make a right, but
    Three rights make a left.
  8. jitschix is offline
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    Posted On:
    6/15/2010 12:12pm

    staff
     Style: BJJ

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Nice thorough reviews, Joe. I enjoy when people supplement reviews with later experiences. And I'm sorry for your loss! I missed that when I read your original review the first time. My deepest sympathies :(
  9. TEA is offline
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    Posted On:
    6/15/2010 6:59pm

    Join us... or die
     Style: TKD, Relson GJJ, Judo

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    ^^^ Thanks
    Mushi mo atsui hodo
    Mushiatsui

    Originally Posted by chuey
    ...Well **** if that isn't the most anti-Mr. Miyagi **** I have heard in ages.

    Two wrongs don't make a right, but
    Three rights make a left.
  10. TEA is offline
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    Posted On:
    8/26/2010 11:02pm

    Join us... or die
     Style: TKD, Relson GJJ, Judo

    --
    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    OK, this is pretty much going to be the final post on this thread. I just went to the final class at USA MMA. The Jones family ended up having to pack it in after fifteen years in business because of financial reasons. Very sad to see, especially tonight when they closed class. Over all, the quality ended up being much better than I expected. I ended up starting to get back in shape (lost 15lbs this Summer), started getting back into the groove with my stand up after more than five years of not doing stand up on any regular basis, and learned some new stuff, too.

    Talking with Jason the other night about why they were closing I was interested to hear him comment that they really hadn't been able to "do it right" since they'd closed down their original dojo and moved into the general purpose room at one of the more full service type gyms in town. He especially noted the limitation on class times that using the GP room at someone else's gym imposed on them and that they'd never been happy with that. Since, as noted above, that was my biggest complaint about this school - not enough class time per week - I was happy to hear that Jason pretty much shared my sentiment.

    Now the challenge is going to be to either find someplace new to train (the only other MA school in Cleburne is a Kung Fu school) or to stay motivated and disciplined enough to train at home and get some of the higher ranked and older students at the school to come train with me on an ad hoc basis.
    Mushi mo atsui hodo
    Mushiatsui

    Originally Posted by chuey
    ...Well **** if that isn't the most anti-Mr. Miyagi **** I have heard in ages.

    Two wrongs don't make a right, but
    Three rights make a left.
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