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Mr. Benn's IFA is an outstanding martial arts academy. His curriculum covers all the fighting forms, and he is a knowledgable and effective teacher. The unique thing about IFA is the "Integrated" part. Mr. Benn continually integrates one form to another, so that no student has a gap in their capability. Further, we spar every day to apply the skills from class against adversaries, not just drill them against partners.
I have been attending classes for about 3 weeks. I am taking the conditioning, and eskrima classes. I have never attended group classes for exercise. I am a very self conscious girl with hang ups nothing can make go away, or so i thought. This school is incredible. The students are incredibly accepting of new people, and are always more than willing to help make you feel more at ease while training. This is not easy training! My body is already changing, and my endurance is improving as well. I was stuck in a rut that i couldn't push myself out of. My own workouts at home were not challenging me enough. This school has really given me the kick i needed! The eskrima class i signed up for on a whim, and now i find myself practicing more than an hour a day at times. Learning self defense is very important to me, and this is an amazing class for that. Lastly, getting the opportunity to train under some one like Frank Benn is an opportunity i was not willing to pass up. His extensive knowledge, and honest, real world training will prepare me for actual worst case scenarios. I am thankful in many ways for this school, and cannot wait to update my review in a few months! Join now. You will not regret it, but any future attackers will.
I have been going here for about 6 months, and can honestly say that I still improve at something every class I attend. I am a former black belt from an after-school karate type program from my teens, and I started coming here initially because I had this feeling in the back of my head that I wasn't very competent actually at all. That turned out to be true. In 4 months here, I was better skilled than 6 years with my karate training.
I showed up and watched a boxing and jiujitsu class, and a few of the students took time out of their own training to talk to me and give me the lay of the land. I would highly recommend observing a class or two to get a feel for it. Things that I have come to appreciate in no particular order: 1. No kids. It is a school of adults, a few twenty somethings, a few students, and a surprising amount of people who are early 30's. Nobody is here wasting time. I take time out of my evenings with the wife, and time that I could be working to come here. 2. From what I have been exposed to bjj wise, the wrestling really gives sport jiujitsu people fits. 3. People spar with me, every class. No one tries to knock my block off, but it's plenty hard, unless I ask to go light. The instructor, and other students are very respectful of injuries.
The teacher, planned curriculum, and the community of students are the biggest things this place has going for it.
Update: I have now been training for a little over a year and a half. Everything previously mentioned still stands. My fitness has continued to improve, and more importantly to me my rate of improvement has stayed consistently rapid. I didn't know enough before to realize the quality of instruction in regards not only to knowledge that is easily available to me through Frank (who teaches every class...not his assistants.....the lead instructor teaches EVERY class.) , but also that my 18 months seems equivalent to 3 years f training in other environments.
In this time my wife started training with us as well and has seen good results. If you are interested in any of the disciplines offered here, I think it's a mistake not to train here for 2-3 months to see if it's a fit.
Also the new improved facility is very cool. As Frank likes to boast, the biggest heavy bag in Texas resides here, and the new cage wall just went up around our 1000 sqft of dedicated mat space.
Excellent school for various reasons.
The instructor, Frank, is extremely knowledgeable about martial arts and fitness in general. He is a technician that has honed his craft over many decades, and it shows whenever you get the chance to have a sparring match with him, whether in striking or grappling. He is very generous with his knowledge, and he really cares about helping his students improve. He goes above and beyond, by being available outside of class, recommending fighters to watch to learn specific styles, and analyzing what made successful fighters so successful, among other things.
The community is very nice, as well. The people here do not mind sharing their knowledge, and they truly care about helping everyone else improve and keeping them healthy. This isn't the place where you will be pushed to the point that you injure yourself when there was completely no need. In fact, the combat conditioning classes are designed to push people to be better athletes in order to reduce the injury rate. That is not to say that they are easy, though. They are still very challenging. You just won't be forced to give an excessive amount more than what you can give in a given day, especially if you are ill.
The classes are physically challenging, and technically loaded. You learn a great deal over the course of one class, and time is set aside to spar daily.
The point is that in my opinion, you won't find better technical instruction, or a better community, elsewhere in Austin. If you want to really learn how to fight, get fitter, and have fun along the way, this is the place.
I just joined the Academy 3 months ago. Even though I have practiced sports all my life, I am new to MMA, Box, FMA and all those acronyms, much less practicing them!
I was referred to Frank's academy by one of my best friends, who studied with him 20 years ago, (the only reason he is no longer attending is because he lives outside of Austin). He (a PDH and college professor) said (I quote him): "What I learned with Frank is the most useful stuff I've learned in my life". So, with that kind of recommendation under my belt, I came and check out the gym.
And I am truly happily surprised about the level of expertise and professionalism Frank has and devotes to prepare every single class, so every time I go for training I am learning something new, a new drill, we build over the previous sessions, and start integrating them into a whole discipline. (Hence the "Integrated Arts" words in the name). And yes, you learn to fight. Physically and also Mentally.
Now, onto the other people attending: What a great group of people. The more advanced students will always pair up with the newer ones and guide them in such a manner that they learn the proper techniques and make sure they don't get hurt and especially that everyone gets a good workout and has fun. So this place has a great balance of a very tough workout, never repetitive or boring, paired up with a lead teacher that not only knows but CARES, and obviously that attitude is transferred and an unseen bond among us.
This is not your typical fashion gym where the people just care about themselves and how good they look in the mirror or are listening to their own music while ignoring the rest, but a real community of people who yes, are working out, but together, while learning and developing new skills and friends.
So, What else can I say? Joining the IFA Academy has been the best investment I have made on myself in a long, long time.