At some point I want to catalog the gyms in southern Wisconsin. People ask me a lot if I know where’s close to them when I travel in my judo hoodie. Sometimes I do. If you’re in Fond Du Lac there’s Welcome Mat. Steven’s Point has judo at the university. Madison only has judo downtown, but there’s a bunch of BJJ acadamies. There’s even a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu school run by a guy who’s a Tang Soo Do instructor and GJJ blue belt.
At minimum I could just make a Google Map with all of the gyms I know of as I identify them. To be honest, I’d like to rate them. I’d like other people to rate them. I’d like an honest peer-reviewed ranking of how good the gym is. I’d like to convey the price. I’d like to list if a contract is required. I’d like to display the dimensions of their mat space, list their available equipment if it’s a gym that does more than just grapple, and give a list of other martial arts offered at the same location. I can’t imagine everyone would be up for that though. If you were a gym, would you want it readily available that you’re a purple belt charging $20 more per month than the brown belt down the road? A quick note on that – we have quite a few black belts in Wisconsin now, but many schools are still run by blue belt or purple belt instructors who have rank done through their instructor or association (usually via seminars). Sometimes the instructor isn’t even the highest ranking member of the club/school. I’ve been places where a very experienced purple belt is teaching but there’s a brown belt who pays for classes and shows up to roll and train.
What would you want to know about a gym? Assume for some reason you were moving to Wisconsin, what kind of information would you want for selecting a gym? If someone were to write a review, what information would be vital? What information would you give to your newbie or white belt friend who’s looking for a gym?
I’d also like to use the same tool to list upcoming tournaments run by the listed schools. If you were running a tournament you could put up information about the location and use this tool to contact the other gyms in the area to let them know about it so they can advertise it to their students. The best way to get people to show is word of mouth. Right now, the best way to learn about judo tournaments is via Facebook. I think it’d be nice if you didn’t need to have a Facebook account just to find out when the Welcome Mat Open is (without having to know to go to the Welcome Mat website).
I guess what I’m trying to model is a free association for grappling in the state of Wisconsin (or the Midwest if I could get reviews and gym info for other states).