Discussion in 'Kenpo' started by Satori81, Dec 26, 2004.

  1. Satori81

    Satori81 Never Forget...

    Sliver my man! How ya been!? We need to hook up again so you can beat me up with your crazy dragon style. I'll be sure to unleash more Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu next time.

    Update: Went there last night to check it out. Its located about 3 minutes from my place, so the school gets one point. The place is VERY clean and professional, with personalized merchandise, business cards, patches, videos, and even a tv playing a tape of shaolin monk training (actually looks kinda cool, if it weren't so heavy on the Commie Propoganda).

    I watched a "lil Ninja" class, primarily to see how the instructor(s) interacted with the students. I've had issues with USSD instructors acting overly arrogant and condescending, and working with children prompts this attitude more than adult classes.

    I was impressed. The head instructor (Joey Larocque) taught the class with three adult "Certified Instructors". He was extremely polite, professional, and patient, and never seemed to lose his cool or get frustrated. He had a nice "upbeat" attitude and always kept positive. One more point.

    After the class he came out personally to speak with me (another point...most head instructors would send in an assistant). I mentioned my USSD background, and asked how much "Kempo" there really is in his system. He briefly outlined the changes he made to the system (removing certain Kata and replacing them with Kung Fu forms), and the similarities (same DMs, same weapon defenses, same "Kempos"). Most importantly, he didn't try to powerclose me, impress me, or intimidate me. He was very professional and polite, and simply said, "Well, you're welcome to come to the next class and form your own opinion." Overall, another point.

    So far it looks like a winner. I'm feeling very positive about this place, and I'm going to attend a class tonight. My only concern is that due to the location and the appearance of his school, he'll want to charge me more than I can pay.

    I hope not, but even instructors need to eat and pay rent. Maybe I'll be able to work a deal where I clean the school or answer the phone or something.

    May you achieve
  2. flyingleopard

    flyingleopard New Member

    Hey satori81, try to find out who he trains with now.
  3. Pacificshore

    Pacificshore Hit n RUN!

    Sounds like a very positive contact off the bat :) If the instructor is willing to allow you to form your own opinion about his system and method of teaching, then he/it can't be all that bad. When it comes down to costs, hopefully you all will be able to work out a method of payment. As an instructor/student myself, I try not forget how I came to be in terms of my MA training, and who helped me along the way. Good luck and look forward to hearing that you've found what it is you have been searching for ;)
  4. KenpoDavid

    KenpoDavid Working Title

    That sounds great, it just goes to show, you should never judge by what you read on the internet :) Good Luck!

  5. Satori81

    Satori81 Never Forget...'s 9:38 and I'm back from my class at "Del Mar Shaolin Kempo Arts". Ultimately, a very disappointing and disheartening experience...let me explain.

    The school is clean and professional. All the gear is brand new, with full length heavy bags, mirrors, padded floors, etc... All the instructors are adults, and the Head Instructor (Joey Larocque) teaches every class.

    The system is very similar to Shaolin Kempo, but they removed the Pinans and added real Kung Fu forms. They also added weapons forms and grappling requirements. The DMs are the same, and most of the etiquette is the same. One HUGE difference is that they do FULL CONTACT sparring. They wear full headgear with face cages, UFC style grappling gloves, Muay Thai shin guards, cups/mouth pieces, and the women wear flak-like chest gear.

    They also incorporate Kickboxing into their training. Bag work, low roundhouses, boxing drills...all included.

    The instructor was really what sold me. A young guy in his early 30's, he was kind of a big, laid back kid. In awesome shape, his technique was FLAWLESS. I kid you not. I've seen a lot of guys, and this man can move. He also has good kickboxing form, with proper execution on jabs, crosses, and hooks. I figured he should be a stuntman or something.

    He was what I call a "live" instructor. He did every technique, drill, and exercise with us...rather than calling out commands and walking around. He broke everything down into easy to learn parts, explained the Bunkai (hidden meanings), then made easy to follow corrections. I learned an "Eagle Form" in 5 minutes from him.

    We then started working with the "Whip Chain". 20 minutes of embarassment entailing us working in the parking lot with heavy chains, trying not to kill each other. The instructor had very little experience with the chain, but he could still bust out the spins, twirls, etc... When he messed up and hit himself, he laughed and made fun of himself.

    All in all, I found him to be an incredibly remarkable instructor. He knew his stuff, he practiced what he taught, and he had a good attitude. He also taught well, and was able to help students visualize the techniques. He also sticks with his "4th Degree Black Belt", and hasn't done the Sokey Dokey deal. He currently trains with several notable Kung Fu instructors in San Diego, where he "gets yelled at and treated like a student weekly".

    So why was it a disappointing and disheartening experience?


    This school has everything I want. EVERYTHING.


    Their prices are too high for me. The intro "package" is around $500, and classes are $150 a month...pretty average for my area. But she (his wife handles all the finances) had no interest in working with me, and said several times "It is not a possibility for us to lower prices". She gave me the spiel about "Understanding" my situation (How the hell is she supposed to understand that I was essentially homeless for over a year, and that I JUST got my act together? That I had both my shins broken in the Corps and had to alter my entire training concept?), but in the end I was simply a dollar sign.

    My potential as a student, as an assistant, as a helper around the school (at my Karate school, I couldn't afford classes so the instructor made me teach kids classes and clean the entire school 3 times a week. I'd still be training with him if I could, and I'd do anything for that man), etc... meant nothing in the end.

    Very disappointing.

  6. Pacificshore

    Pacificshore Hit n RUN!

    That is unfortunate that in the end, the mighty dollar rules who gets to train and who dosen't. Man, I was so hoping that it would have worked out for ya...keep the faith though, I'm sure you'll find a place soon.
  7. sliver

    sliver Work In Progress

    Really sorry to hear that Satori, I was hoping you had found a home in the arts finally. Though it didn't work out, try not to judge them too harshly. They are running a school in the uber high rent district of Del Mar and as anyone who's ever been in the business side of martial arts will tell you, making a living at it ain't easy. I realize you have a lot to offer also, but I suppose in their mind they already have quite a few assistant instructors and need to pay bills. Really too bad. Maybe as things progress for you financially it will become more doable. The price unfortunetly isn't really out of line for most schools in San Diego. I'm sorry it didn't work out buddy. Keep looking for now, there may be something even better you're meant to find.

    As to getting together again, I'd love to sometime very soon. Since very shortly after our last meeting I started studying BJJ at Pitbull Jijitsu in OB. It's a great place and I love it, the instructors are both good people and good teachers. As for me, I'm getting better on the ground but have a LOOOOOOONG way to go yet. I like the place so much I turned my brother on to it and he's starting there next week. Maybe you want to do BJJ again, we might be able to get you into the school under the family rate? I realize ob isn't exactly 5 minutes from your house, but it's a thought. Anyway, PM me and we'll set up a time to meet next. Untill then, be well.
  8. Satori81

    Satori81 Never Forget...

    What really upset me about the whole experience was their complete lack of understanding or flexibility. In all honesty, I can see why the classes are small, as their unwillingness to work with potential students keeps their adult class small and limits the amount of revenue their school will pull in.

    I mean...if they had tried to work with me, lowered the price to say $100/month, but required that I clean the school, or hand out fliers, or make cold calls, or send out e-mails, etc... then they would be $100 bucks richer a month, and they'd bring in the profit of whatever service I provided.

    However, because they "can't afford to compromise", they actually lost money! It would have been more profitable to bring me on in SOME respect, or they could have set up a payment plan. Ultimately, they have complete control over who they let into their school and how they choose to extract payment...and they chose not to have me around.

    The attitude and touch of disdain ("It is not a possibility to compromise") that I got from his wife personally offended me (since I didn't even say "lets compromise"). She didn't even try to say "We simply can not afford to lower our rates! Our rent is too high! I wish we could, but we can't!"

    Perhaps I'm just taking it too personally, but it felt more like "We don't really care whether or not you stay."

    Oh well...there is a nice Shorin Ryu place down the street run by 3 working professionals (a Doctor, a Geologist, and a Cop I think) who charge $75 to cover the rent. They let me train free for a month, and never mention fees. Time to get back to my roots, I suppose :p

    Pacific Shore: I'm still waiting to relocate to find one of those schools you mentioned, and I can't wait to try them out. There is an awesome Kajukenbo school in Escondido that charges around $60 a month, and I'm still trying to get a hold of Kara Ho people in San Diego.

    Sliver: Woot! Another BJJ convert! Welcome to a world of tap outs, joint locks, and squeeling! You'll do well, though, as you're an excellent martial artist with a good attitude and an open mind. You'll find your height and build to be a disadvantage, so you may want to consider bulking up some if you can...but I'm confident you'll be making me tap soon enough. Also...BE VERY CAREFUL about your back. Everything in BJJ is very "Rollie", and you're asking for a back brace if you don't let them know and work around your injuries. I'll give you a ring when life calms down...hopefull after this weekend.

    Take care!

  9. GeeniusAtWurk

    GeeniusAtWurk Valued Member

    An issue with allowing you to work in exchange for a lower monthly fee is liability. Say you're cleaning the place and you spill molten lead on your foot. Since he is essentially paying you in the form of a discount, his insurance has to pay. It's an over the top example, but insurance companies are evil. What if the other students find out you're getting a discount? They'll complain to someone, and request the same deal as you (and I guarantee they won't actually care about your past circumstances), and once 20% of the members are getting discounts, you'll have an extremely clean dojo, but a jealous environment. I mean c'mon, it's Del Mar, where the mercedes driving moms play "Keeping Up With the Jones'" every dang day.

    If it were anywhere else, you probably wouldn't have a problem. But Cali is THE WORST place to open a small business right now, with workers comp costs skyrocketing and all that. They're not slighting you personally, it's just a needed CYA thing in our wonderful state.
  10. flyingleopard

    flyingleopard New Member

    I agree cali suckssssssssssss.

    How many classes did you get a week?
    Any privates?
    If you got four group classes a week thats a good deal for cali.
    If you got 1 private a week and 2 groups thats not bad.
    anything less not so good but calis rent is terrible and one of the highest.
  11. Pacificshore

    Pacificshore Hit n RUN!

    That's California....high everything...highest gas prices in the Nation:bang:
  12. Satori81

    Satori81 Never Forget...

    The price was for a max of 3 classes a week, and privates were sold 1/2 hour for 50 bucks a piece. At least in USSD, you get a free private a week.

    A friend of mine told me they'll get a visit from the "Karma Train"...which immediately sprung images of techni-color tie dye coasters driven by Tommy Chong, with Dharma as a stewardess. Great visual.

    However, I don't think they're a bad school...actually, they're an excellent school. I'd highly recommend all of my soccer mom friends to attend there...if I had any soccer mom friends. I don't, so I guess they won't be getting any referrals from me.

    I just need to cry myself to sleep for a week or so, then I'll feel better :p

    Or start selling drugs to fund my "Martial Habit".

    May you achieve
  13. KenpoDavid

    KenpoDavid Working Title

    They may have assistant instructors who have PAID THEM for the privelege of cleaning the dojo.

    Assistant Instructor.
  14. sliver

    sliver Work In Progress

    Heya Satori, Yeah, I have to say you're right on both counts, I love BJJ (doing it concurrently with my kung fu) and yes, my build is somewhat of a disadvantage. The longer arms and neck do make me more vulnerable to armbars and chokes. BUUUUTTT... the streght of and length of my legs makes my gaurd dificult for even higher ranks to pass. So, basicly I've got to (as usual) make them play my game rather than trying to play theirs. My strategy at this point seems to run to the tune of keep them in the gaurd or on the bottom and work my subs from there. And yeah, I'm being VERY careful of the old injuries. Give me a call when you have the time, we'll get together. Be well.
  15. Satori81

    Satori81 Never Forget...

    What's funny is that since I'm short and light, I'm also a guard fighter (I tend to get tossed around when I grapple bigger guys).

    I'm picturing a simultaneous "Brazilian Butt Flop" when we try and grapple.

    May you achieve
  16. sliver

    sliver Work In Progress

    ROFL!!! Ok, I just about wet myself laughing at that one!
  17. Kempoholic

    Kempoholic New Member

  18. slowmo

    slowmo New Member

    I was with USSD from about 1993-1997, and got up to brown belt level. I had a really good instructor though and i can definately say the training was intense and i learned how to fight pretty well, but only because i was so serious about martial arts and my instructor was good.

    Most of the students just came to class once or twice a week and only learned the 'kempo style', and i have a lot of problems with that style and the way its packaged with ussd (which is why i quit ussd instead of going on and on and owning my own ussd school like some of my friends did)

    But i take martial arts really serious and i wasn't in it for the money or to be social so i was studying a lot of other arts in my spare time.

    I'm not sure how pricing is now but I had to pay for every belt test, anywhere from $30 for most belts to $100 from brown belt. Had to pay for tournaments and seminars and uniforms and sparring gear and of course montly fees (which were only $60 for group classes, but private lessons were in the $100's) But my instructor was really cool and knew i was broke and often let me slide on payments since i helped the school by doing demos and teaching classes.

    But thats another problem, people didn't wanna pay their hard earned money to have some pimply faced teen teach their classes. And the more i learned about martial arts the less i liked the kempo style because we were literally teaching techniques to 4 year olds that involved back breaking and eye gouging, it just seemed really irresponsible but that's what happens with McDojo packaged martial arts. Also the training was very physically demanding and a lot of the exercises weren't safe and plus you get really overworked (which is great if you want a hardcore/oldschool type of conditioning)

    I had some of my best experiences at USSD though so i can't really knock it. The environment was great, all the people were respectful and positive and i learned a ton of stuff that i'll never forget and got conditioned in ways my body will never forget =]

    So i'd say only take up USSD if you're new to martial arts, want to get in shape fast and make some friends. But make sure you get a GOOD instructor who will actually teach most of the classes. There ARE USSD instructors out there who have only been in martial arts for a year or two before being allowed to run their own ussd school! (there's no substitute for serious experience)

    But to be honest i wouldn't recommend ussd to my friends unless it was from my old instructor, because the style is pretty much a joke. I'd recommend filipino martial arts, muay thai, jeet kune do, taijiquan or aikido depending on your goals.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2005
  19. GeeniusAtWurk

    GeeniusAtWurk Valued Member

    Yea, that's another thing. Don't get caught up in only taking Kempo, maybe you can try a Kung Fu style or MMA style school. I did USSD for a couple years in my early teens, but I am getting much more into Choy Lee Fut now at 22 years old than I ever was at USSD, but that could be an age thing. But reading about the prices made me realize how expensive they are. At White Dragon, it's still around 110 a month, but you get 8 group classes, two stretching classes, point and full contact sparring, and one private lesson a week. Shop around in the different styles, and see what comes up.
  20. flyingleopard

    flyingleopard New Member


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