Prior to joining Crazy 88, I briefly studied judo and aikido at a local martial arts facility. Although I greatly enjoyed the subject matter, I was lukewarm about the school itself. The classes were few and far between, attendance was erratic, the teaching was unenthusiastic with virtually no individualized attention, the facility was shabby, and the philosophy seemed to be about socializing rather than learning and progressing. I certainly had no intention of becoming a professional martial artist, but I found myself wanting “more.” I figured if I was going to spend the time and money, and put my mind and body through the rigors of martial arts, I needed a change. I looked at many other schools in the area and chose Crazy 88 for its world-class instruction, virtually round-the-clock class schedule, superior amenities, and overall approach to learning-something that combines pushing the students to achieve their highest potential while having a great
Prior to joining Crazy 88, I studied judo and aikido at a local martial arts facility. Over time I came to realize that most of the students were there for recreation, as opposed to serious study, and this was exemplified by erratic attendance. What this meant for me was that I could never count on having a partner of similar size or skill level to train with and oftentimes resulted in me being thrown about the mat by large men with no idea how to train with a smaller person, much less a female. If the weather was nice, you could count the students who showed up to class on one hand. When there was good attendance it felt more like a reunion or special occasion rather than the norm. There was so much socializing that class routinely started late and chattering would be intermittent throughout. The judo instructor had a full-time job as a banker and would cancel class with some regularity when work obligations called. Other days he would bring his
two small children who sat nearby on the mat distracting him and occasionally needing diaper changes.
I lucked out when I found Crazy 88 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; usually it would have taken me a while checking out local academies prior to making a decision, but it just so happens that the first school I walked into was the perfect fit.
Not only was it a perfect fit, but after a little bit of cross-training I realized it had also spoiled me.
No matter what martial art I have studied I have always made it a point to occasionally visit other schools and gyms, both locally and abroad, to keep myself honest and to avoid stagnation.
While I always thought the training at Crazy 88 was top-notch, with nothing to compare it to my point of view was nothing more than an unsubstantiated opinion. After a few drop-in training sessions at other schools though, I learned exactly how lucky I had been!
Some of the things I immediately noticed when hitting the mats at other academies?
Belts Aren’t Consistent – One of the first things I noticed was a vast difference in the quality and consistency of the lower belts. While there were always a couple of standouts, the majority of white and blue belts (and even some purple) were very erratic in terms of skill level. Having grown accustomed to a consistent ranking process, it definitely threw me off a little.
In a lot of cases it almost felt as though instructors elsewhere didn’t get serious about skill-based standards until the purple/brown levels.
Quality of Sparring – One thing I can always count on at Crazy 88 is that unless is it is a pure beginner’s class, sparring is going to be hard. Whether we are spending time refining things through positional/situational sparring or just battling it out, I always leave the mat covered in sweat and feeling like I have gotten in a great workout.
While some of the other schools I have attended approach sparring that way, a lot don’t. There has been many a time where I have left a foreign mat having barely broken a sweat.
Tone of the Room – I appreciate a light-hearted atmosphere as much as the next guy, but I also expect instruction to be focused and purpose driven. I have been shocked at how many academies I have attended where the focus seemed to be on socializing instead of getting better at BJJ. That mindset baffles me to no end.
While I am sure there are other fantastic academies out there, I have yet to find one that manages to maintain the balance of quality/intensity/fun that Crazy 88 does; if I do I will be sure to speak up.