If you haven’t heard of Studio 540 essentially it is a Martial Arts Academy located in Solana Beach (near San Diego), California. It offers a range of classes and aims to offer a blended Jiu Jitsu experience.
So what does that mean in English? Well simply that they aim to open their doors to everyone regardless of art, club or affiliation. All gi colours and patches are welcome! They just want to create a positive environment to share knowledge and to love jiu jitsu in all its forms. So considering my hubby and myself constantly joke re our cross training at each other’s academy we may just have found Creonte Top Team Heaven!
In terms of facilities, as you walk in there is a brightly lit reception area leading two two mat spaces. However, classes mainly take place on the main mat space near the changing rooms (separate ones for males and females). The women’s changing room was epic (compared to many UK ones) it was large enough for 4 or so women to get changed at the same time comfortably. Between sessions, you have cubby holes to keep your kit. There was also a private toilet. The sink area was in the main changing room and had sufficient space and mirrors to do your hair etc. There was also a spotless shower, complimentary towels, toiletries (including mouthwash) and even a hairdryer and straighteners! I am reliably told by my hubby that the men’s changing rooms were of a similar quality but perhaps minus the hair straighteners!
At the edge of the main mat, is leather sofas for individuals watching classes or waiting for classes to start. There is also a water fountain for refilling your water bottles. The mat space its self is spotlessly clean. We didn’t only see it get cleaned after the morning classes but also between classes (e.g. after muay thai had finished and before our own class).
We trained at Studio 540 for three days in total and experienced a total of six different instructors which in itself is unusual. Most academies only have a handful of instructors but currently, at Studio 540 there are around 17 different grappling coaches covering BJJ, Judo and Wrestling – all of whom are black belt level. This meant that we didn’t get to know any particular instructor that well but we did get to see a smorgasbord of styles and approaches. I am not going to cover the in’s and out of every session as I did do a lot of grappling over my holiday. But a few personal highlights to give you a flavour of the place:-
Ana taught our first class and it was great to both train and roll with her. She was not only incredibly approachable but I also picked up really a nice transition from the figure four grip to a back take. The Wednesday session was a big deal for me as I finally managed to take a session with Leticia Ribero – it goes without saying that she was amazing to train with. This was followed straight away with a fabulous Judo class with Justin Flores, reflecting on the session we covered a ton of technique in such a short space of time. Not because anything was rushed or crammed but simply due to how well everything was structured and taught (I was definitely glad that I’d packed my judo belt!).
Our last sessions were taught by Richard Colavin and Aaron Olsher. Richard was born in 1941 and got his black belt in 2002 so he really is a great example of “old man” jiu jitsu in the most positive sense! He taught some solid moves to neutralise the closed guard. Aaron was also an absolute gent to learn from covering some great de la riva sweeps and was a pleasure to roll with at the end of the session.
Studio 540 had a great friendly atmosphere. Both my husband and I always felt welcome on the mats. I also got to roll with a great range of people from white to black belt. Most of the sessions also had several females attending which was a great experience for me too. But even when there weren’t other females to train with I still got plenty of good rolls and wasn’t left sitting on the side like a wallflower! It was certainly a gym I would visit again without hesitation if my travels brought me back to the area!
In terms of practicalities prior to visiting we did send them a quick email via their website and we got a quick and friendly response. Current prices are $30 for a daily drop-in (they also offer a weekly drop-in rate of $120). This enabled you to attend any classes. They also allowed any gi’s and patches as long as they’re clean and don’t smell! 🙂
Oh and a quick top tip – Rudy’s Taco Shop nearby is great for post-training breakfast/lunch. We had more than a few tacos and burritos there!