(Gracie) Ju-Jitsu in NYC?
July 27, 2006 9:15 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a self-defence oriented (gracie?) jujitsu school in the NYC area.

From what I've read, I think I'd prefer the Gracie style as both my girlfriend and I are small of stature but that's not a very informed opinion. My budget isn't unlimited but I'm more than willing to pay for quality. Googling shows one Gracie school in the Bronx which is a bit out of the way and about 30 Ju Jitsu schools all over but I suspect that Google may not be the best way to find out about this kind of thing :)

Personal experience and recommendations are especially appreciated.

My experience is a few years of McTKD as a kid, my girlfriend has none.
posted by Skorgu to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: There's a ton of them, and I think Gracie's headquarters are actually here in Manhattan--ran across mentions during my recent martial-arts related searching. However I wasn't considering BJJ so I didn't follow up.

If you look on the following forums you should find threads where people ask the same sort of question and are referred to whatever the good Gracie school(s) are here on the island.

Bullshido
Fighting Arts
Martial Arts Planet
E-Budo
posted by cyrusdogstar at 10:18 AM on July 27, 2006


Best answer: The Gracie name is good but most jujitsu (and mixed martial arts in general) schools are teaching a similar style of jujitsu these days.

If you want self-defence I'd look at the MMA oriented skills for real world applicable self-defense fighting techniques.
posted by bitdamaged at 10:43 AM on July 27, 2006


Best answer: I second bitdamaged's recommendation to look into mixed martial arts schools if you're interested in self-defence.

I'm hesitant to plug something here I'm personally involved in, but you might want to check out my school. For Brazilian ju-jitsu, we do lots of both sport-oriented (Machado, Gracie), as well as non-sport grappling in street fighting situations. And since it's an MMA school, we also do lots of other arts, as well: boxing, kickboxing, weapons, etc. We focus on techniques that are efficient, direct, and simple, and put a strong emphasis on producing well-rounded fighters that can apply their skills in the street.

Feel free to stop by, or email me if you have any questions.
posted by Gamblor at 11:26 AM on July 27, 2006


Best answer: Actually, upon re-reading your question, I'm wondering about finding the art that's the best fit. Maybe you could explain what your goals are?

-Self-defence
-Weight loss/Physical fitness
-Practical fighting skills
-Physical contact
-Flexibility
-Spirituality
-Competition

If you're looking primarily for self-defence, you might want to consider something besides BJJ. BJJ is usually more oriented towards sport competitions, and, because it's a ground art, is not necessarily your best first choice in defending yourself on the street. Even less so when it's a woman fending off a larger male attacker.

Anyways, after you determine one or more styles you think might be a good fit for you, there are three basic questions you'll want to ask when choosing a school:

1. Is the head instructor actually there?

Many well-known martial artists (especially in NYC) have schools, but aren't there a lot of the time. They're off giving seminars, or giving private lessons to celebrities, and they leave the day-to-day classes to their assistant instructors. If you go to a school because of the reputation of the head instructor, you want to make sure that s/he will actually be teaching you.

2. Are the instructors and senior students helpful?

Do they seem to genuinely want the new students to progress, or are they just going through the motions. We've all had good and bad teachers in school when we were kids, and you know what a difference it makes to have someone who's excited about the subject and really wants their students to learn. Also, pay attention to how the senior students treat the junior ones. Are they helpful? Do they bully or ignore them? Do they constantly for attention?

3. Do the senior students move in a way you'd like to one day?

These are the people who are ahead of you in time and practice, and if you learn the same material under the same teacher, you'll probably end up with similar skills/abilities. If you don't like the way they move, you probably don't want to spend your time training to be like them.
posted by Gamblor at 11:56 AM on July 27, 2006


Best answer: Renzo Grazie himself has a school on West 30th Street.
posted by nicwolff at 11:57 AM on July 27, 2006


Best answer: I probably won't be popular for saying so, but the Gracies do have a somewhat poor reputation (at least here in the UK). Whilst the style itself is excellent in many ways they leave a lot to be desired as coaches. There is some discussion amongst the Gracie BJJ practioners over here that they are more concerned with generating income than actually teaching.

I have no doubts the other teachers at the classes are excellent, and again, I'm not disparaging the style itself, but do be aware of this factor when selecting your school. They certainly are not belt factories but they charge significant sums simply for the association with the Gracie name.
posted by longbaugh at 12:11 PM on July 27, 2006


Response by poster: Thank you for the replies, they are fantastic.

Gamblor: I'm primarily interested in a martial art as a self-defence/general fitness/fast-twitch thing. Taking your list of priorities as a starting point:

-Self-defence
-Weight loss/Physical fitness
-Practical fighting skills
-Flexibility
-Physical contact
-Competition
-Spirituality

I'm a scrawny computer programmer. I sit in a chair 8 hours a day. I walk alot to and from work and I take the stairs (~10 flights) about half the time so I'm not in abysmal shape but I played soccer (badly) in High School so I know what being in good shape feels like and this isn't it.

If you'll pardon a strained car analogy, I'm a miata (please keep your snickers to a minimum). I don't have the horsepower to just power through things so I have to have finesse. Looking through the various links both in this thread and generally on google, many of the practitioners look more like Corvettes or Vipers. Or Mack trucks :) What I'm looking for is training to let me avoid push coming to shove but also not to be completely useless if it ever does. No desire to avenge my father's murder or retake a train full of satellite-hijacking terrorists here.

What attracted me to Gracie was its reputation for being somewhat insensitive to body mass/strength.

Gamblor's school looks good, the videos (sorry) are kind of campy and staged, but the incorporation of multiple styles and guns (!) looks like a well-rounded approach. The problem is that I'm not really well equipped to evaluate it.

longbaugh I didn't know that, thanks for the datapoint.
posted by Skorgu at 12:52 PM on July 27, 2006


Response by poster: Also, I very much want this to be something that my girlfriend and I can do together. I don't think she would enjoy a stereotypical musclebound dojo with no women present, but at the same time I don't want to waste our time with an overwrought sense of PC or a more-psychological-than-physical "rape defence" class.

My girlfriend is of similar body type to me and about in the same level of fitness.

Gee, I don't ask much do I :)
posted by Skorgu at 12:57 PM on July 27, 2006


Response by poster: To further reply to myself, what tkchrist has to say sounds good, but again I'm not really in a position to accurately judge it. I really like the idea of training in more active ways rather than only repetitive forms. It sounds like a lot more fun too.
posted by Skorgu at 1:13 PM on July 27, 2006


Best answer: Skorgu, sounds like you're in roughly the same boat I am, I'm still evaluating styles and am actually about to embark on dojo-visiting this very evening. At this point it's the only way I personally can make a decision--visit a couple places that I think may fit what I'm looking for, and see how the practicioners move, and what skills they employ. See whether those things appeal to me, or not--whether I can see myself amongst them doing the same things. This is strongly related to Gamblor's point #3.

And if you think your decision-making process is getting narrow, I think mine's worse, as I'm limiting myself to traditional martial arts, and nothing overly weapons-based (read: no BJJ, no MMA, and pretty much no large mainstream schools at all).

At any rate, I highly suggest you read up more on the various martial arts out there, find a few more that appeal to you, and locate and then visit some schools in the area that offer them. Wikipedia has a great listing of martial arts and usually has descriptive articles for them.

Based on my readings and what you've said, you might want to consider Shorinji Kempo; there are two such dojos here, both in Midtown. I'm visiting one of them next week sometime, at least unless the place I visit tonight really grabs me.

Heck, we could go dojo-hopping together ;)
posted by cyrusdogstar at 2:58 PM on July 27, 2006


Best answer: Oh, and one more thing--your decision making might actually be worse than mine, if you truly expect to find a style that is both suited for realistic self-defense, but also doesn't have a lot of musclebound gung-ho men involved. Those two things seem to go together, at least from my limited observations. I'm sure there are exceptions but they may not be easy to find.

As for Shorinji Kempo, while it seems like a very "non-combative" art, I'm told by a few people that it can be extremely effective for self-defense, and while it has no hard contact sparring there are mock fights involving quite a bit of movement and throwing.

If I were you, I would probably lean more towards the traditional arts, thus lessening the machismo involved, since those arts can most definitely be useful for self-defense, even if they're not as realistic as mixed martial arts.

And since these things tend to hinge more on the school/sensei and less on the art, as long as you find a teacher who recognizes that you want to be able to use your learned skills for defense (or that you want the challenge of sparring; or whatever) you'll probably be fine.

Finally, and this is something I'll have to get myself to remember, you're not necessarily locked in for life. If you spend a year in Art X or at School Y and aren't getting what you need: leave for someplace else! :)

I will shut up now.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 3:05 PM on July 27, 2006


Response by poster: cyrusdogstar Yeah, that sounds about right. I was hoping that the hivemind would have some brilliant first-person stories about how such-and-such dojo changed someone's life and its absolutely awesome and the sufi can karate-chop a volvo in half. Or something

Kempo sounds very appealing from a philosophical point of view.

I'll definitely visit Gamblor's dojo and probably the Gracie one too. Gmail in profile if cyrus or any other NYC mefites want to assemble an army to strike down fark look at dojos. More impressions are always better!
posted by Skorgu at 3:10 PM on July 27, 2006


Response by poster: On-I-Didn't-Preview: Yeah, I have second-system-syndrome but bad, I really hate not Getting It Right The First Time. Good points and yeah, I may have my standards set a bit high :)
posted by Skorgu at 3:12 PM on July 27, 2006


How about Tiger Schulmann's? There's one on 19th Street, they're clean and non-stinky, they emphasize self-defense and have grappling classes (as well as karate and kickboxing) and—at my school, anyway; I'm not sure about the Manhattan school—classes are pretty evenly split between men and women.
posted by bink at 8:29 PM on July 27, 2006


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