Conrad Claus
Criminal Defense Attorney
Las Vegas, Nevada

DO NOT LET THE NAME FOOL YOU:  Kid friendly, clean, safe, with quality people.

Cobra Kai is referred to by many of the top grapplers in Vegas as a “hidden gem.”  It is a non-commercialized gym where high end training is done in a relaxed environment. (There is a reason why an unadvertised and modest club has way more positive Yelp reviews than any other, including all the commercialized, glitzy, over advertised ones.)   But there is also much to recommend Cobra Kai to the greenest and most hesitant of new students.  Experienced Vegas grapplers do not need to be told about Cobra Kai, so I will write the this for possible new students, looking for a place to get started.

As I said, do not let the name fool you: this is nothing like the dojo featured in the Karate Kid.  no “kill, kill, kill” or any other idiocy.  Simpson Go, the owner, is a gentleman.  All of his black belts are gentlemen.  They are fighters with some impressive abilities, but they are all truly decent people who treat others well.

In BJJ you are putting your safety into other people’s hands.  If a training partner applies a technique with insufficient regard for your safety, you can get hurt.  Many BJJ and MMA places are filled with young, aggressive meatheads with attitude problems.  Certainly there are many young, fit guys at Cobra Kai – it is a “hard core” place to train, one of the most hard core in Vegas, but they behave decently and with courtesy.  I suspect this is due to the attitude of Sim and his black belts filtering down from the top – bad eggs just do not stick around.

Cobra Kai is unique.  They emphasize instruction and rolling over drilling, and they work hard; but they are very forgiving of folks who need to take a break.  A few years back I had a bad lung infection and recovery has been slow; it still causes me to have a reaction to exercise, at times, that is similar to an asthma attack.  If I need to take time off, I can sit out with no negative comments; indeed, the lead instructor will normally approach me and make sure I am doing ok.

Cobra Kai produces awesome grapplers and there is a focus on honing competitive skills, but any of the upper belts and instructors are willing, even eager, to take significant individual time with folks taking them aside and helping them learn.    Every practice I see this happen.  Sometimes it is a hardworking journeyman grappler getting help from one of the black belts, sometimes it is a newbie or a visitor from out of town.  There is a love of rolling, and an impressive willingness to share with everyone.  

If you are new to grappling you may not realize how important cleanliness of a facility can be.  It is gross to walk into a fitness center and see grime on the treadmills and weights.  But with a grappling facility, a lack of hygiene can be worse than simply gross: your health is at stake.  It is too easy to get some sort of illness from someplace that does not keep clean.  At Cobra Kai the facility is kept spotless. 

I am older with my own kids.  That means I have less in common with the average young guy at a BJJ or MMA club.  There are plenty of older guys at Cobra Kai, but still, even there the average is young.  When I joined up, I figured I would train and then go home, having little social interaction with the folks there.  This has not been the case.  The camaraderie I feel to these, mostly, younger people is amazing.  I truly treasure the time and interactions I have.  They are decent, friendly, and not at all cliquish.   And the treatment meted out to older grapplers, even newbies, is very respectful.  I get treated with more respect and regard than I probably deserve.  I played team sports in high school and college, I am familiar with team camaraderie.  Yet Cobra Kai is special – it is like family.   

Cobra Kai is also a really good environment for kids. It has kid’s classes, with the good training and confidence building BJJ can give to kids.  But in general it is a very kid friendly place in many ways.  I suppose the attitude of Cobra Kai to kids can best be demonstrated by the fact that every time I have brought my 2 year old (sitting in her car seat), I have had nothing but support, and, indeed, someone usually offering to watch her in my place for a round or two of sparring (she loves to watch BJJ).   

So why this long review?  I suppose is my way of saying goodbye to a place I have come to love.  I am moving soon.  I am torn up that I will not be able to train at Cobra Kai any more.  I am sad that I will not be able to have my kids train there when they get older.  Likewise, as my kids are girls, I am sad that the positive treatment women receive at Cobra Kai and the positive images of strong women presented by several of the female grapplers will be unavailable to my daughters.

Reader; I envy you the chance you have to train there.   Welcome to the family; sorry I will not be there to welcome you myself, but I know you will get plenty of welcome and support.

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