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