Semi-Charmed Life


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in NYC

For anyone interested in taking Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the following are some places that offer legit, quality instruction in the New York Area. Anyone who wants a good work out and a fun and practical way to stay in shape, give this a try.

For those who are unfamiliar (taken from my Academy's website):

Brazilian jiu jitsu is a grappling-based martial art whose central theme is the skill of controlling a resisting opponent in ways that force him to submit. Due to the fact that control is generally easier on the ground than in a standing position, much of the technique of Brazilian jiu jitsu is centered round the skill of taking an opponent down to the ground and wrestling for dominant control positions from where the opponent can be rendered harmless. To control and overcome greater size, strength and aggression with lesser size and strength is the keynote of the sport. This is done by utilizing superior leverage, grip and position upon your opponent. Students of the sport gain a deep understanding of the workings and limits of the human body. This knowledge can be used to subdue and control an opponent with whatever level of severity the student chooses. The path to this knowledge is physically and mentally demanding. Students benefit from greatly increased physical fitness, problem-solving ability, self-knowledge of their body and mind and the many social benefits of working within a large group of like-minded fellow students as you learn and have fun together.

Long Island

Serra Jiu Jitsu - Run by Matt and Nick Serra (Huntington and East Meadow)

Redboy BJJ - I hear about them alot.(Port Jefferson)

Soca Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy - Run by Alexandre "Soca" Freitas (Bellmore)

Scarola BJJ - Run Joe Scarola. Used to roll with Matt Serra but split from him. His school is now a Gracie Barra affiliate. (New Hyde Park)

D'Arce BJJ - Also run by a Renzo black belt. (Bay Shore)


Magno Gama BJJ - Magno is an instructor at my school (RGA) and now teaches in Astoria, Queens on certain days. The link I posted is to his Myspace. I don't think his website is up yet because his school is pretty new. He is an EXCELLENT teacher.

Staten Island

Codella Brazilian Jiu Jitsu - Run by a Renzo Gracie black belt.


Brooklyn BJJ - This place is highly recommended for Brooklyn.

Lotus Club Brooklyn - Run by brown belts. Sounds like a legit place.


JiuJitsuInc (I think this was formerly known as Studio X) - Run by a Kenny Florian Black Belt.

Alliance NYC - Run by Fabio Clemente. Top notch school. It seems they consistently do well in competitions.

Renzo Gracie Academy - My academy. Great facilities. Good instruction. Lots of class times offered for flexibility. Downside is that it's a big academy, so it's a bit impersonal at times and also tuition is a bitch. This is probably true of all Manhattan schools though.


By no means is this a comprehensive list of schools in the NYC area. It's just what I was able to think of off the top of my head.


Honest Appreciation

I don't receive meaningful compliments on a regular basis, so it's nice to receive one from someone every now and then. I don't fish for compliments though and in general I don't think much of them. I give a polite thank you and continue with the conversation. There are three particular ones though within the past year that have stuck with me. I don't even think they were intended to be compliments, but I took it as such.

Last summer, I was talking to a buddy of mine and he was saying how it's pretty cool that I go out there and pick up different hobbies. He said that it's cool that I get really wrapped up in whatever hobby I'm interested in at the moment. I told him that if anything I'm just a flake when it comes to this stuff. Like a raccoon that's easily fascinated with the next shiny object. I guess what made it cool was that I really don't talk to him on a regular basis so I didn't expect him to really keep up with what's going on with me. He also said it very matter of factly and not in a "wow you're so" great kind of way.

Another time I was chatting with an old buddy of mine. We were great friends when we were younger, and we still are, but we each went our separate ways. I rarely see her but we still chat here and there on occasion, and it's never awkward. When we talk, it's usually online and the conversation is usually very random. Like a stream of consciousness whatever pops into your head type of deal. It's how I talk with everyone, not just her. Anyway, one time when we were talking she made a remark about how it was cool talking to me because I could "keep up." Apparently she's the same when it comes to conversations, and we both lamented on the fact that not everyone was receptive to that because we're the type to just abruptly change topics in the middle of a conversation.

I thought it was cool because I've been told before that I'm just too random in conversations, so it was nice that someone didn't think it was a bad thing.

And finally, several weeks ago I was talking to another friend. She was someone that used to be in my circle of friends, but for various reasons, she does not hang out with us anymore. We don't hang out, but I talk to her from time to time. One time when we were talking and I don't quite remember how she phrased it (weak command of the English language), but she basically said that I'm not fake towards her. I don't think I'm conveying what she said properly, so don't take it as me tooting on my own horn.

I think these three moments are significant to me because these three compliments were not originally said as compliments. Or at least I don't think they were. The typical compliment does not mean much to me. People usually pay a compliment on something superficial, like what you're wearing or the way you look. Or they might compliment you on what a great person you are because you did something nice for them. I appreciated what my friends said because it just seemed like genuine matter of fact honesty. It wasn't said to make me feel good about myself or anything like that.

Til next time.

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Sometimes I feel like I'm the odd man out at work. If you don't follow sports in the corporate world, you don't belong. I often wonder how many of these guys picked up on sports because of the corporate macho culture. Not that I blame them. It's a smart way to fit in and there is nothing wrong with sports. Sports gives guys something to shoot the shit at work.

I however don't have much interest in the major professional sports in America. Basketball is not my thing, and I find baseball boring to watch. I don't even think most people even watch games anymore. Seems to me like people keep up with sporting news rather than the games themselves. Can't blame them though, because there are just too many games to watch for basketball and baseball. Football is a little easier to digest. I enjoy watching it and it's not as hard to keep up since each team only plays once a week. I would not call myself very knowledgeable on it though.

It's just crazy how it seems like everyone watches baseball. Basketball, not so much. And fantasy football is huge when fall hits. Maybe it's just that the guys who don't follow all this stuff know how to lay low.

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Another Bromance

I saw I Love You, Man yesterday and came out feeling a little disappointed. Maybe it was because I just saw Knocked Up two weeks ago so I had high expectations. Yes, I know Knocked Up came out ages ago and I'm late to the party and all. Whatever. Knocked Up is one of the funniest movies I've seen in a while. The dialog was good throughout the whole movie. Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd were hilarious in it.


When I saw that Paul Rudd was starring in I Love You, Man, I was pretty excited. The movie turned out to be just ok. That's why I hate reading reviews prior to watching a movie. The reviews made the movie sound awesome. 82% on Rotten Tomatoes!

The movie is about a guy (Paul Rudd) who is about to get married. You soon find out though that he has no close guy friends. He has always felt that he just connected better with women, and his fiance and her friends sort of think it's a bit odd. So his quest begins as he looks for new friends so that he can find a best man for his wedding.

Anyway, the movie echoes something that I've always felt. I've always thought it was weird for guys to not have close guy friends or for girls to not have close girl friends. I think it says something about you if you are not well accepted by other members of your gender. I'm not sure what it says about you, but I just think it's not normal.

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Georges St-Pierre and BJJ

georgestpierre_jpg-bigI just got back into the flow of things this week by attending my bjj class after a two week hiatus. Now I know I wrote in a previous post that I don't have any idols, but I was star struck when I saw Georges St-Pierre at my gym last night. I caught him a little too late though. I didn't even notice he was there until a friend of mine asked me if I saw him. Him who? "GSP!" he said. I rushed outside to the lobby area to take a look, but I was already dressed in my gi on the mats and he was on his way out, so there was no point in bothering him.

As luck would have it, I saw him again today. This time he was in the middle of training so I didn't want to disturb him. By the time he finished up though, my class already started and I wasn't able to talk to him. In hindsight, I was an idiot for choosing to go to class instead of waiting for him to finish up. I could have easily taken the next class which was in an hour. I missed my opportunity to talk to one of the few people I admire. More than that, I wanted a freaking picture with him! This would have been the one and only time in my life where I found a use for my camera phone.

I wouldn't call him an idol. Mancrush maybe? Whatever. I hope I see him at my gym again this week.

Anyway, the two week break was brutal. I felt like a fat slob out there on the mats and completely out of shape. I think I'm beginning to lose motivation. A lot of times it just feels like I am not getting anywhere. Some days I do ok and some days I get completely annihilated in class. I wish I could have one of those epiphanies where everything just clicks and makes sense. I hear other people get that, but it's just not coming. It also feels overwhelming at times with the amount of moves we learn in class. I don't feel like I'm absorbing everything.

I still feel great after every class, but I'm beginning to dread going. It almost feels like a chore. Maybe the novelty has worn off so it feels less fun. It also might be because it is a combat sport, there will be winners and there will be losers every time you spar. It's unhealthy to have that mentality that winning is everything, which I don't really have. But when you consistently "lose" in class, it is a hit to the ego. A bad performance on my part is getting submitted a dozen times. A good performance thus far is the equivalent of survival. I do well enough to survive, but I don't feel like I am putting up a good fight.

I guess that's the difference between bjj and snowboarding for me. There is no real adversary in snowboarding other than yourself. I didn't believe it when I read on some forums that many people quit brazilian jiu jitsu because of ego. Because they were tired of losing. But I can now see first hand how that could happen.

Must persevere.