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thejon
3/20/2012 10:58am,
Hey all, I'm new here.

I'm all sorts of torn up. I want to train, but I'm having stupendous trouble finding something that fits what I want.

Background: ~1 year Shotokan when I was 10ish. About 2 weeks TKD with World Martial Arts before I realized what a joke that place was when I was about 18. About 2 years with Tracy's Karate (Kenpo) before I ran out of money for private training ($50 a week is hard)

I'm almost 30 years old, work a desk job but am basically "ok" fitness wise (about 160, about 5'8"), based in North County of St. Louis, MO.

I want a few things from my training. I need to see progress. I don't really care if that's from a belted system or a "now that you know x you can learn y" type, but I need to feel like the work I did 3 months ago matters. I'm training in large part for vanity, but I'm not looking for a belt factory. I want the ability to say I have a basic mastery over something, and I fully expect to work to get there.

I don't really enjoy ground work. I know it's fundamental to 'real' fighting, but I don't intend to 'real' fight. I'm almost 30. I live in a neighborhood where if I'm involved in something, I'm going to be shot, not hit. Look at my background; ground work is just not what I'm into.

I looked into Aikido. I tried 3 Rivers (Seagal system), but I felt "sold" there, the prices seemed to not make sense (there's a monthly fee, a yearly fee, a signup fee, a contract, and a uniform fee). I otherwise liked Aikido, aside from not really having a clear advancement path. But I suppose that's the nature of the system. I also tried a lesson with St. Louis Aikikai. I liked those guys a lot, except that they train Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I can't train either of those days.

I've looked into Judo, but that's almost too competition driven still. It's more throws then groundwork, which appealed to me. I contacted White Dragon in Overland, but the guy outright told me he advances people based on "points, class attendance, open workouts, competing, helping at tournaments". I don't want to be advanced because I sold popcorn and showed up. I want to work and earn.

I'm looking at Arch Taekwondo now. I haven't visited with them, so I don't know much about the place or if it's just another belt factory or what. I dislike that they offer $100 for 2 classes/ week or $120 for 5/week, but it's right down the street from my office, and they have morning training classes which means I could actually train more then 1-2 times per week.

There's St. Louis Ki Society I need to check out, but I have yet to be able to get in touch with anyone there (left a number of unreturned messages).

Otherwise....? Am I way too strict with my needs? A big part of not being able to find a place for me is my schedule, I can train mornings, Monday night, and every other Friday/Saturday.

Help a noob out?

Petter
3/20/2012 5:22pm,
You havenít really said what you are looking for. You say that you donít care about ground fighting, since although you recognise its importance to real fighting, you arenít that concerned about being a complete fighterófair enough! That said, are you looking for


Something that still imparts fighting skills, even if itís not complete? If so, you might want to look into boxing, Muay Thai or similar kickboxing, some kung fu place that trains for sanda/sanshou competition (basically kickboxing with throws)Ö You might want to avoid stuff like aikido, where the general consensus is that their demos may look cool (depending on taste), but youíre not very likely to learn to fight.
Something that you just plain enjoy and is martial-artsy? If so, I suppose the sky is the limit.

If youíre actually looking to learn to fight, even if only in certain contexts (i.e. the standup phase, ignoring the ground phase of combat), you really should consider getting into a martial art that has a sportive side, even if you do not yourself compete, because youíll be assured of getting the same kind of training that prepares people to do well in fights. (You might eventually decide to compete, or not. Either way, the training is more likely to be better.) And if this is your goal, consider what the sport looks like: Training people to play ITF Taekwondo foot-tag does not make good fighters; training them to do Olympic-style, hard contact TKD might; training them to become successfully competitive boxers, kickboxer, or judoka will.


I've looked into Judo, but that's almost too competition driven still. It's more throws then groundwork, which appealed to me. I contacted White Dragon in Overland, but the guy outright told me he advances people based on "points, class attendance, open workouts, competing, helping at tournaments". I don't want to be advanced because I sold popcorn and showed up. I want to work and earn.
Itís entirely normal for judo advancement to have point requirementsónot for low grades, but when you get to the point of trying for black belt, or advancing up the black belt ranks, there are indeed points for that. For this reason, a lot of people donít bother advancing past the first degree of black beltóIíve met some people who have been 1st or 2nd dan for 10Ė15 years, just because they never bothered to rack up the points.

However, the fact that there are point requirements does not necessarily or normally imply that they advance you based solely on this. Rather, you need to demonstrate technical ability and earn some certain number of points. If the guy at this dojo explicitly told you that he does not evaluate technical ability thatís fishy, but it sounds improbable. More likely itís the standard: Both. In this case itís really not a big deal; by the time you near black belt youíre likely to put in a little bit of time helping out anyway; thatís the nature of volunteer-run martial arts groups.

Consider, too, that a black belt in judo usually takes quite a while to getómaybe five years or so. Thus for the first several years of the journey, no points are typically required, and by that point, your need for tangible motivation in the form of belts should be past. I understand the desire, it helps motivate you as a beginner, but after four or five years of training you ought to have a little more passion than that.

Vector
3/20/2012 6:41pm,
Otherwise....? Am I way too strict with my needs? A big part of not being able to find a place for me is my schedule, I can train mornings, Monday night, and every other Friday/Saturday.

While I am not from your area, I would guess that your schedule limitations will be the biggest hurdle.

Predominately, you seem to be available for morning and weekend classes, so your options for structured, instructor-led classes would be fairly limited I would think. My advice would be to start with the schedule. It really will not matter how much you like a particular gym (dojo, dojang, whatever) if they meet Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday nights.

With that said, there may also be some opportunity to get in with some "open mat" morning groups that are willing work with a new guy. In my area this is much more likely with the ground fighters, but it something to look at.

Also, there are folks out there that train in their garages with a select (small) group of friends; so this is something else to look for.

Petter
3/20/2012 6:46pm,
Some martial arts are primarily volunteer driven; these tend to be scheduled around regular office hours, i.e. based on when the volunteer instructors can make it. Judo, for instance: Even top quality schools tend to be volunteer run, so classes will generally be in the evenings.

Professionally-run schools that have full-time staff are ipso facto better placed to offer more unconventional class times (e.g. my BJJ school offers morning and noon classes). Of course, they will also have higher running costs and want to turn a profit, so all else being equal I’d expect training to be more expensive. The notable exception I can think of is the striking cousin to judo’s “cheap, effective, and widely available”: Boxing (I’ve heard of of quality boxing gyms here that are open 24/7, so you can at least hit bags and train with whoever else is around any damn time you like).

No Weak Links
3/20/2012 11:00pm,
Thejon, if I understand right, you are looking at fitness, along with being able to show progress and learn "something." You prefer punching and Kicking. You schedule might be a little tricky.

Like one of the above posts says - find the right training hall. Don't worry too much about the style, just work schedule first, then the place that best fits your preference.

Maybe you might have to drive a few minutes further, but from my experience, an extra 20 or 30 minutes for the right fit is worth it.

JohnKenner
3/21/2012 12:53am,
I'm from STL. Actually, a I'm also Tracy's Black Belt out of the Kirkwood location.

You have a lot of options, the big problem is your time constraints. When you say "mornings," what is your availability?

I currently train out of St. Louis Combat Institute (http://www.stlcombatinstitute.com/). There is a bit of groundfighting, but its more a striking school, centering around Krav Maga (we're affiliated with Itay Gil), Boxing/Kickboxing, and Systema. It's a pretty laid back place, I've been training there for nine months and enjoy it.

I also do BJJ with Finney's in Granite City, IL - and can tell you they're pretty good, but a bit pricey if you want a shorter contract. One of Finney's two (http://finneyskickboxing.com/) locations (http://thehitsquad.com/) may offer some MMA classes that fit into your schedule.


I've also trained with North Broadway Jiu Jitsu (http://www.guidrytraining.com/). The instructor is a good competitor and has a solid program.


I want a few things from my training. I need to see progress. I don't really care if that's from a belted system or a "now that you know x you can learn y" type, but I need to feel like the work I did 3 months ago matters. I'm training in large part for vanity, but I'm not looking for a belt factory. I want the ability to say I have a basic mastery over something, and I fully expect to work to get there.

If you really want to see progress, and want to know you can apply what you're doing, you need to compete. That's why Judo rocks. That's why BJJ rocks. That's why Boxing rocks. By competing, you know that you can apply what you've learned to someone you haven't met, haven't fought before. And that is definitely an accomplishment.

If your schedule works with White Dragon, and you like the place, try it. You'll learn a practical, pressure tested martial art. Also, I've heard excellent things about the Kirkwood Judo club.

On the subject of rank factories: While there are some exceptions, which MTripp could point out, Judo rank is by and large earned. Showing up to sell popcorn will not get you a shodan. You will have to compete.

If you have questions about any place in the area, PM me and I'll be happy to help.

Good luck. Hope this helps.

thejon
3/21/2012 9:25am,
Thanks everyone. The explanation about points makes much more sense now; I guess coming from kata / form styles really threw me when he said things about points. Looking at it now; it makes perfect sense to expect someone to really put in effort both inside and outside "official training time" before you'd consider them for advancement.

I'll look really heavily at White Dragon again. I emailed Kirkwood Judo yesterday to look at when they train too, and ask about private lessons. He emailed me late last night and gave me his number and asked me to call him; so I'll do that this afternoon.

JohnKenner, is Tracy's Kirkwood exactly the same (more or less) as Maryland Heights? More or less private training only, at ~$60 an hour? I loved training with those guys; quite fun, but way out of my price range.

JohnKenner
3/21/2012 11:04am,
Looking at it now; it makes perfect sense to expect someone to really put in effort both inside and outside "official training time" before you'd consider them for advancement.

I'll look really heavily at White Dragon again. I emailed Kirkwood Judo yesterday to look at when they train too, and ask about private lessons.

That's awesome. If it works out for you, be patient in your training. People have earned a shodan in the tracy's system in as little as three to four years. With grappling, you're looking at six plus years. Don't be discouraged though, the belt is not important. Pay attention to how you randori, and what new throws and skills you can really apply when someone is actively resisting you.

Good luck with it, and I hope you enjoy yourself.



JohnKenner, is Tracy's Kirkwood exactly the same (more or less) as Maryland Heights? More or less private training only, at ~$60 an hour? I loved training with those guys; quite fun, but way out of my price range.

Yeah, it was about 200/month, and a bit less if you paid for a year upfront. Not cheap, but they offered a lot of group workout and sparring classes, so I got a lot of value out of it. I say this with love and respect - it is the gold standard when it comes to strip mall krotty. It has some intrinsic weaknesses in the system (and by that I mean Kenpo in general), but overall, the kirkwood school was staffed by really cool instructors who would tailor the curriculum to you. I enjoyed my eight years there.