Thursday, May 21, 2009

LTrain Visits SerraJitsu, East Meadow Location

Hi folks,

As promised, with Matt Serra’s fight happening at UFC 98, I thought it might make sense to blog about my experience visiting Serra Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, East Meadow, Long island, NY location. SerraJitsu is a couple of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu schools ran by brothers Nick and matt Serra, Renzo Gracie’s first black belts in the United States. Many of you are probably familiar with Matt Serra from the UFC.

I had some business to tend to in New York City and actually extended my trip to hang out at SerraJitsu for a couple of days. The experience did not disappoint!

I took three formal classes at SerraJitsu and will summarize each one. For class #1, I arrived Tuesday evening, August 5, 2008 for the “no-Gi” class and was readily met by this guy with a familiar voice who said: “What’s up, bro! I’m Matt.” I was immediately impressed by Serra’s ability to just be a normal guy—here’s a former UFC Welter Weight Champion who holds many world championships in grappling introducing himself to me as Matt. I quickly got acclimated to the facility which was clean and in good condition and got to work. Matt knows both professors David Adiv and Royler Gracie quite well, so I really felt at ease training with him and his guys. It was super hot in the Academy, and my only mild complaint would have been that the mats were a bit slick and when we started sweating on them, it made for a very slippery surface. Matt taught the class and focused specifically on the feet for most of the class. Half the class was spent dropping for heel hooks which is not really part of my current BJJ game, but he had some great set-ups for this from the feet. I’m just a bit nervous about dropping for leg-locks from the feet and Giving the guy a possible advantage while going for these submissions. But my BJJ game will never be what Matt Serra’s is, so who am I to argue. The second half of the class was spent from the guard using an overhook on the top guy’s arm to get back to the feet which I found to be extremely helpful. We also trained fairly hard toward the end of class focusing on either passing the guy’s guard or the guy standing up while the guard passer was attempting to pass. I did OK, but did slip a great deal on the mats. I managed to score a picture with Matt, but it somehow got deleted from my phone, so I regret that I don’t have any photos of the two of us.

The second class was a Gi class taught by Billy Hofacker and was an afternoon class the following day. Billy worked with us quite a bit on transitioning from side control to an arm-bar on the guy’s far arm. This transition depends on underhooking the guy’s far arm and actually using the Gi lapel as a handle to secure the arm. I use this quite a bit actually, and that class especially helped my arm-bars both from side control and mount.

I wanted to come back for the evening class, but only had one Gi, and I was sooooo appreciative of Billy offering to launder my Gi for me—anyone who has trained with me knows that the LTrain can BRING-DA-SWEAT when he’s training hard.

The final class that I attended was taught by Matt’s brother Nick, and if I remember correctly, we focused on breaking the guy down when he turtles. I remember that Nick got there a little late which seems to be a normal, accepted occurrence by the students—smiles! I don’t recall too much from the class except that we trained really hard, and Nick was really a nice guy and a good motivator. Nick gave me another nickname that seems to have stuck with him and his brother, for they refer to me as “Dare Devil” , the Marvel comic book super hero who is blind and whose other senses take over Giving him superhuman abilities. In fact, Matt asked me to refer to myself as “Dare Devil” whenever I come back so that he would remember me.

I found the training at SerraJitsu to be top-notch, and I found the guys there to be relatively friendly, as well as pretty focused on competing and winning. Aside from the great instruction for a fair mat fee, the entertainment value in Matt’s class was priceless. I remember just starting to laugh really hard while I was rolling with one of his guys, for Matt was coaching me by yelling from the side of the mat, and he sounded exactly like he sounds on TV. When he told me to “keep breathing” I just lost it—LOL!

I wish Matt a successful UFC 98, and a few of my friends and I will be rabidly cheering from the LTrain’s “CRIB” for him when he fights Matt Hughes this coming Saturday; here’s hoping for a VIOLENT end to Matt Hughes’ career! He and his staff are knowledgeable Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners and great guys, and I look forward to being able to get back there some day soon.


Larry, the LTrain

Monday, May 18, 2009

Professor David Adiv Weighs in on the Swine Flu Hype

Hi folks,

The following comes directly from the Royler Gracie-David Adiv website. I can't tell you how sick i am of hearing about "Swine Flu" or whatever the hell the media is calling it this week. Below is Professor David Adiv's take on the situation, and I agree with his sentiments, and they're worth noting below:

Gracie Jiu Jitsu NJ Academy: training to combat the Swine Flu epidemic
May 1st, 2009

Approached by a few students concerned with the swine flu epidemic that has hit Mexico, USA and several other countries, Professor Adiv was asked if and how we should train Gracie Jiu Jitsu in these times that we are been swamped by alarming news that suggest us to avoid close contact with each other and therefore avoid getting sick.

First and foremost Professor Adiv advises us to learn about the facts and not to be alienated by the media. He also encourages us to take all precautions to maintain proper personal hygiene and health, including washing our hands often and seeking medical help when not feeling well. However he gives emphasis to the actions we can take to completely eradicate this and many other issues that have been affecting our physical and emotional health.

Professor Adiv says that “This is the time for us to use all the tools we have to boost our immune system and keep it working well. Rather than breaking apart from each other, now it is the time to go to the academy and train.” It might sound a bit contradictory, however those who knows the benefits of training Gracie Jiu Jitsu will promptly understand and those who are not familiar with it yet, are encouraged to give it a try. Training Gracie Jiu Jitsu provides us with the whole package for great fitness and wellness.

The benefits are measured by a functional body capable of defending itself from the big bullies on the streets as well as from the microscopic threats around us. Professor Adiv mentions that "there won’t be masks strong enough to block these micro organisms from harming us if we don’t help each other to be strong from within."

Gracie Jiu Jitsu and the natural breathing exercises we often practice during our training sessions promote great cardiovascular health, and it is worth to note here that even though the swine flu is a big threat on its own, cardiovascular diseases have been the number one killer in America for the past decade. The natural breathing required when we are training or practiced as part of our warm up increases our lung capacity, the flow of oxygen to all our system and cells, facilitates the exchange of gases in our respiratory system and promotes natural detoxification of our bodies.

Training with a group of supportive friends brings up good feelings and help us to keep our mental and emotional health in check as well. And it is no novelty that good emotional health is a key component to boost our immune system.

So, now it is time to take Professor Adiv advice and pack up our gis and head to the academy.

Have a great training everyone!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Gi Vs. No-Gi

Hi Folks,

Check out this “MMA In The Morning” podcast on Gi Vs. No-Gi, and interview with Billy Hofacker, a brown belt under Matt and nick Serra, and Operations Manager/instructor at Serrajitsu’s East Meadow, Long island location. I met Billy last August when I had the opportunity to train a few days at Serra Jitsu, and he’s a pretty cool guy with lots of fitness and BJJ knowledge. He also taught when of the classes while I was there. With Matt Serra’s highly anticipated fight with Matt Hughes happening next weekend, I’ll blog about my training experience at Serrajitsu some time next week. These podcasts are updated regularly, so this direct link may take you to the most recent podcast as they are added, but you should still be able to find this podcast regardless of when you click on the link above.

Suffice to say, this podcast dispels a lot of the myths floating around about Gi training not really being relevant for those training for Mixed Martial Arts. Check it out and form your own opinions. As for me, I’m happy with what the Gi offers me in regard to technique and control, and prefer to mix a day or two of “no-Gi” training per week in order to focus on “changing the handles (grips)” while preserving the technique learned with the Gi.


Larry, the LTrain

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Team Andres In Da House!

Hi folks,

Here's a short blog post dedicated to Andres whose classes I've blogged about in previous posts. This highlight reel of Andres submissions is up on youtube. Click here to watch ANDRES BRING THE PAIN!!!
name="allowscriptaccess" value="always">allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344">

Having rolled with Andres a fair amount, I can tell you that it's a humbling, yet educational experience, to be sure.


Larry, The LTrain

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Passing While Standing

Today, I had a private lesson and was fortunate enough to use one of my training partners, Mike, as an extra body to train with while Darren conducted the private lesson. Mike’s the guy who I blogged about a couple of months ago who trains with his eyes closed.

The absolute WORST aspect of my Jiu Jitsu game is defending the “pass” when someone stands up in my guard. I totally just shut down when someone stands and begins to either disconnect or control the grips. We focused on a game plan for fixing this glaring weakness in my game, and will follow up with some additional reinforcement next Tuesday. Here's what I learned today:

1. When I have someone in my closed guard, control the grips. If he’s got my lapels and is trying to put both hands in my armpits while driving towards the mat, bring my elbows in and break the grip. If someone has my sleeve, pummel for the dominant grip, and lock my hands behind my head to distract them and get them to reach and extend for my sleeves.
2. Now, SHIT does happen and sometimes the guy stands up, so I learned how to comfortably transition to the “spider guard” that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.
3. We focused a bit on the “De La Riva Guard”, popularized by Ricardo De La Riva. This open guard is often used while transitioning from the spider guard and involves controlling the standing guy’s sleeve while hooking his ankle with your other hand and threading your leg through his leg that is being controlled at the ankle by your hand. I’ve drilled this guard before but never in a private lesson situation where I really got to work on drilling it as well as using it to try to stop Mike from passing.
4. Lastly, Darren reviewed with me how to take the back from this guard. Here’s a pretty decent video of this move being demonstrated, and no, it’s not Darren and I doing the demonstrating, but it will paint a picture for you, and the audio description is pretty decent for us blind guys. Taking the Back from the De La Riva Guard

I at least understand where I need to really tighten things up and by the end of the lesson, I was rolling a little better in these positions. I guess I just mentally kinda shut down when someone stands, and freeze for a few costly seconds. But I’m aware of it now, and am really committed to tighten up this grossly loose aspect of my GJJ game.

I’m off to Nashville to conduct some business later this week and will be hopefully getting some mat time in at Nashville MMA, Lloyd Irvine’s Jiu Jitsu school in Music City and will let you all know how that goes. One of our blue belts, Clark, trains there when he goes home, and says the guys are fairly solid and keep a pretty rigorous pace, so I’m looking forward to taking in the blue belt Gi class and perhaps the beginner no-Gi class as well. Will keep you posted.


Larry, the LTrain

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Open Mat At Relson Gracie, Columbus

Yesterday, Darren, chuck (another Team Evolution student) and yours truly took a bit of a road trip to our State Capital, Columbus Ohio. The Relson Gracie, Columbus, OH Chapter is located in down-town Columbus and his headed up by Relson Gracie black belt, Jeff Hudson. Every Friday afternoon, Mr. Hudson and some of his guys hold an “open mat” training session for those who wish to hone their grappling skills in a fairly intensive, yet chilled-out environment. So, I played a bit of “hooky” yesterday and went down to their Academy to check it out.

I feel pretty good this week, and was really looking forward to rolling hard with some fresh bodies down there, and the guys there did not disappoint. We arrived, and warmed up a bit, and then it was pretty much “full go” as much or as little as you wanted. They have a timer running six minute intervals throughout the training session which I discovered part way into the training. The first blue belt I was rolling with abruptly quit rolling at the sound of the first six minute buzzer, and I was slightly pissed about this since I had passed his guard and was working my top game. But Darren explained to me that some of these guys want fresh partners every six minutes, so “it’s all good”, for sure.

I got about seven or eight hard rolls in over about a 90 minute time period and some of the rolls didn’t adhere to the six minute timer. I did fairly decent against the blue belts, but really got “owned” by a couple of the Relson “brown belts”. Darren reminded me that at this stage of my journey, it’s natural for this to happen to me, but the redneck part of me really felt like a BITCH getting mounted and dominated so handily. There’s this one guy who’s name is Tommy Fister, and he really brings the pressure when he rolls—he’s only about 185 lbs—about 10 pounds lighter than me, but feels like he weighs over 3 bills. We started and he had me start in side control—we rolled around a bit some until he recovered guard, swept me, and mounted me. He really stuck to me, and bumping and elbow escaping were such a chore! I think I got to half guard once or twice, but basically, my Jiu Jitsu was defensive, survival mode Jiu Jitsu against this guy. He’s a really nice guy and I appreciated getting to roll with him.

On a more positive note, I had a number of arm-bar finishes, and my guard was pretty solid against guys more in line with my skill level. I’ve also been working on my posture within the guard, and my passing felt pretty good. I scored a couple of sweeps from the half-guard and saw the back a few times (so to speak) and took it once from this position. These guys play a lot of open, butterfly guard, and I need to work on my pressure when grabbing the inner portions of their Gi pants to work the butterfly pass.

Everybody was pretty cool about the blind thing, as they are in most academies where I visit. Another brown belt, when I asked him where he wanted to start, tip-toed away and jumped on my back, which was actually pretty funny and got some laughs—LOL!

All in all, it was time well spent. Mat fees for this open mat are $20 per session, and there’s a few brown and black belts who are there to answer questions and give advice if you roll with them. So, while it’s not like a private lesson or formal class, many questions are answered, and many opportunities exist for those who participate to hone their skills.
The LTrain does have to work for a living, and can’t get down there every Friday, but my goal is to try to go down maybe once a month and bring along my laptop on days when I need to get some work done on the 280 mile round trip drive. I’d like to thank Mr. Hudson and his crew for having us, and for giving us the work-out that we were after, and recommend that those of you who have the time, and who are interested in getting in some quality mat time, to check out this open mat that starts around 12:30 p.m. every Friday.


Larry, the LTrain