Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Vacation Form

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

If you are planning on taking a time off – for two days or for two months – we’d like to know about it!

Our recommendation to all students is that if you are planning on missing days, put in some extra time and work by doubling-up on classes. For example, if you’re going to be out for two weeks, try to get in two extra classes the week before you leave and two extra classes the week you get back. That way, you will have done the work for the weeks you’ll miss. It will also keep your progress on track.

If for some reason you cannot get some extra classes in, then we ask you to please download and fill out a Vacation Form. In order to properly credit any time missed, return it to the Program Director, and it will ensure that your time will be credited back to you accurately.

See you on the mat!

The Staff of Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu



Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

By Professor Josh Skyer

We love summer and we love training in the summer: nothing beats a great martial arts class after a hot summer day: stepping into a clean, air-conditioned Dojo, putting on a clean uniform and letting the stress of the dog days disappear.  Here are some black belt tips to keep your martial arts training intact during the summer months:

1. DON’T LET THE WARM WEATHER KNOCK YOU OFF TRACK – Progress comes with consistency. It’s tempting to let a day at the beach, or a long weekend distract you from your martial arts goals. Fight it! We talk about self-discipline; what that means for most adults is hitting the mute button on that little voice in your head telling you that it’s OK to skip class.

2. WEAR A CLEAN UNIFORM – This holds true regardless of season.  This might mean getting a second or third gi, especially if you’re training more than twice a week. Of course, never wear a gi or thai boxing uniform that hasn’t been washed. This actually might be illegal in some states, and if it isn’t then it should be.

3. DON’T DROWN YOUR TRAINING PARTNER…BRING A TOWEL – Sweat management is a necessity during warmer weather.  Bring a small towel to class and use it.  Getting caught in a rainstorm on your way to class is not a big deal.  Getting caught in a rainstorm while on the bottom of the mount IS!

4. ALWAYS WEAR A T-SHIRT OR RASHGUARD UNDER YOUR GI -  It will add an extra sweat-absorbing layer.  If you partner taps out because of a triangle you will most likely get a high five or “good job”.  If your partner taps out because they are choking on your sweat or your chest hair you will not get a high five.

5. TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR PERSONAL HYGIENE – Take a shower after class, every time. This is common sense for most people, but it bears repeating anyway. A really wise man once said that a good training partner showers after every class, but a great training partner showers before class.

6. HYDRATE – Drink water all day.  Start first thing in the morning. Coffee, sports drinks, alcohol and soda all LEECH water from your body. It’s important to hydrate before, during, and after class.  Also be extra careful about eating salty foods on training days, which can also draw water from the body.

7. BE A GOODFINDER – Yes, it’s hot out. Yes, there is traffic. Yes, you had to stand up on the train and didn’t get a seat. Yes, your boss is a mean person. Yes, your therapist likes to blame all your problems on your parents. But NO, you don’t have the right to complain in the dojo. Your training hall is supposed to be a positive place, a sanctuary. If you can’t say anything positive,don’t say anything at all. JUST TRAIN.  If you don’t feel better after class, we’ll be happy to refund you your misery.

Have a sustainable practice! The martial arts is the best year-round activity there is for fitness, focus and self-improvement. Commit to the process of getting better by following these tips…and by encouraging others to do the same.

Train hard – there is no substitute!

Father’s Day 2014

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

We had a wonderful class on Friday celebrating all the dads with a special class. Enjoy the compilation of photos below. And Happy Father’s Day!

Eating for tendon health

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Support your connective tissues’ health with a nutrient-rich, low-inflammation diet.

  • Eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables.
  • Eat enough protein, which provides the “building blocks” of tissue repair.
  • Limit inflammatory foods (such as processed foods and sugar) as well as any foods to which you know you’re intolerant.

Work out smart

  • Try a safety bar squat or a cross arm (“genie”) front squat instead of regular barbell back squats to decrease elbow stress.
  • Do fewer isolation exercises for biceps and triceps. Instead, focus on compound exercises where the load is higher and the stress is distributed over more than one joint.
  • If it hurts, avoid it. Find an alternative.
  • Vary your movements and loading. Take a day off between intense workouts. Build in recovery days each week with easy movement and mobility work. Have a diverse roster of activities instead of doing the same handful of things over and over.
  • You can use an elbow band if you find it comfortable during workouts.
  • Try lifting straps to decrease the amount of gripping necessary for heavy lifts, like this.
  • Look at overall upper body mobility. A tight posterior shoulder capsule may contribute to elbow pain.
  • Build a solid foundation and mechanics before you increase the speed or resistance at which you do something. Remember that connective tissues take a long time to build and heal.

Live smart

  • Check your computer workstation. If your hands are always in pain, change the setup.
  • Engage in rehab with pain free strengthening exercises (wrist curls, reverse wrist curls, elbow flexion, elbow extension, forearm pronation/supination).
  • Return to full-strength activities gradually. You may need as much as a year of rehab exercises.

Eat smart

Try the following foods and/or supplements that help to moderate inflammation and promote tissue healing:

  • Foods/supplements rich in omega-3 fats:
    Algae oil, flax, chia, hemp, walnuts, leafy greens, fish, fish and marine oils (e.g. krill and algae)
  • Foods/supplements rich in flavanoids:
    Turmeric, garlic, pineapple, tea, berries, cocoa
  • Foods rich in vitamin C:
    Guava, red bell pepper, broccoli, green bell peppers, strawberries, grapefruit, kohlrabi, papaya, Brussels sprouts, kiwi, mango, oranges
  • Foods rich in vitamin A:
    Carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, spinach, collards, kale, watercress, beets, winter squash, tomatoes, dried apricots, mango
  • Foods rich in zinc:
    Mushrooms, spinach, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, green peas, baked beans, cashews, whole grains, oysters, chicken, crab, lamb, beef, pork, turkey, lobster, wheat germ, watermelon seeds
  • Foods rich in copper:
    Mushrooms, green leafy vegetables, barley, soybeans, tempeh, sunflower seeds, navy beans, garbanzo beans, cashews, molasses, beef liver, oysters, lobster, crab, chocolate, cocoa powder.
  • Amino acids:
    Supplementing with arginine (7 grams, 2x/day), HMB (1.5 grams, 2x/day), and glutamine (7 grams, 2x/day) might assist in collagen deposition and injury healing.

Also, try keeping a food journal as well as tracking your pain / inflammation symptoms.

See if you notice any correlations. When is your pain better or worse? Do particular foods seem to make a difference?

Many people find that when they remove inflammatory foods, and/or foods to which their body reacts, they have less joint pain.

Mother’s Day at the Dojo

Monday, May 12th, 2014

We had a great time training with our moms for the special Mother’s Day class. Check out some of the highlights in the video below.


Angela’s Story – Karate Success

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

I never thought of myself as a martial artist. I am a daughter, a wife, a mother, a student. But now, I am happy to say that I can add martial artist to that list.

People say that your quality of life declines as you get older. Not in my case. I had my children in my 20’s and 30’s, then raised them in my 40’s. When I turned 50, I went back to college to complete my degree and tried karate for the first time. The idea of me, in a karate uniform, doing kicks and kata seemed absurd to me at first. I have watched both my son and husband train for years. I was a karate mom who brought my son to class and back home.

At the urging and support of Brenda and my family, I put on my gi and took my first class. I had so many fears about my physical ability, getting hurt and looking silly. One of the most important things that I have learned, and what helped me the most, is that everyone’s ability and reason for beginning the martial arts is different. We are all working on our own individual goals. So even though I cannot kick as high as someone else, I am doing the best I can for me.

I am constantly improving. In our school, there is no competition. We all try to help each other to reach our individual goals. I am healthier today than I have ever been. I have lost weight, my heart is strong, my lower back – plagued in the past by chronic pain – no longer bother me and I am more flexible . My doctor took me off my blood pressure medication. My bones are also stronger from the resistance training that I have been doing in the classroom.

Today I am a red belt and will be testing for my black belt within the year. I love to be able to train on the mat with both my husband and my son.  Now, just as I have watched them both become black belts, they now can watch and support my progress toward a black belt of my own. I am so I am so happy that I took that first lesson.

Angela Becker

One Mat, One Instructor, One School

Friday, April 11th, 2014

By Professor Josh Skyer

“A serious student is much more concerned with training his mind and disciplining his spirit than with developing martial skills.”
― Eiji Yoshikawa, Musashi

It is said that true men remain loyal to those to whom they are indebted. This virtue is taken from a 400-year-old Martial arts scripture entitled, “The 8 Virtues of the Samurai”. As a student of the Martial Arts, I have always been taught to use the practice as a vehicle for personal development and self-improvement; consequently, loyalty has taken on great meaning for me.

As most experienced practitioners know, training in the martial arts requires a very high level of personal hygiene. Finger and toenails must remain short as to not accidentally scratch our training partners or ourselves. So as I sat with the nail clipper recently preparing myself for training, I took a good look at my own feet. It was in this otherwise mundane moment that I came to a stunning realization about my own experience as a student.

I realized that the bottoms of my feet have never touched a Jiu-Jitsu mat other then the one on which I took my first class. This is the same mat which my instructor, Professor Glick, put down with his own 2 hands. I will have trained from white belt to Black Belt at one school, on one mat, with one instructor.

This exercise in loyalty has been nothing short of amazing, and not very common in today’s Martial Arts climate. It’s as if the old cliché about how “the grass is always greener” has taken over the mind of the modern martial artist.

It is commonplace in Jiu-Jitsu schools to have an open mat, on which students from all over town can “pay to play”, training without feeling like they are violating the code of the Samurai spirit. In other words, they seem to never worry that they might be “cheating” on their own Professors and fellow training partners. This was something to which we never subscribed at Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and for which I thank God. What is has given me is an immense sense of loyalty and depth of feeling inside the dojo I train in.

In a lot of ways the popularity of mixed martial arts – and the too-relaxed, laissez-faire, anything goes, revolving-door dojo – has turned today’s martial artist into a consumer. Traditionally, as the quote above would have it, the martial artist’s role in the world was not as a consumer, but rather as a producer. But a brief glance around the world of martial arts today finds the consumer everywhere: consuming classes, and training partners, all over town, as opposed to producing self-change, a stronger and more vibrant community and an overall sense of loyalty both to the dojo and to all those they encounter.

Not us. Again – the bottom of my feet have never touched the mat of another dojo. And I am happy to say it. On the day I’m able to have Professor Glick place a black belt around my waist, I will know that that decision will have been, for me, the glue that binds me to the martial arts forever. OSS!

Support Team for Kids

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Brenda Ferrara, who many may know as the Executive Program Director at Gene Dunn’s Shotokan Karate Dojo, is running the New York City Marathon to support Team for Kids. Read her letter below and consider donating. Professor Lynch is also running the marathon to support Team for Kids, so look out for more info about his race.

Dear family and friends,

Have you ever wondered what you can do to make a difference?

I did, and I found a way: I’m running the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon as a member of Team for Kids.

In the past twelve years, Team for Kids members have raised more than $35 million to support running-based health and fitness programs for more than 200,000 schoolchildren each year throughout New York City, around the country, and in Africa. These programs target at-risk kids, most of whom don’t have physical education in their schools.

You can ensure that more kids benefit from NYRR’s youth programs by sponsoring my run. Any amount will be a huge help! All contributions are tax-deductible and will be acknowledged as such in an e-mail to you from Team for Kids.

Most importantly, all contributions will go toward helping kids lead healthier, more productive lives. The New York Road Runners youth programs teach goal-setting, nutrition, fitness and running skills. Knowing how to make physical fitness a habit can reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and the risks they pose to children, families, and communities.

Thanks in advance for helping me and thousands of schoolchildren. You can make an easy and secure online donation toward my efforts here:

Brenda Ferrara.

Raising a Black Belt Family

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

I can remember the day like it was yesterday, in January 1997, when I went into Elegante Pastry Shop and there was Daniel DeClet as a small boy (4 years old) in his karate uniform. Well, my son Salvatore (who was also 4 years old and a very good friend of Daniel’s) saw him and they hugged each other. They were nursery school classmates and they had this common love of doing Ninja Turtle moves with each other. The encounter that day was a big wake up call for me because Daniel and his family had been telling us about this great karate school across the street for a while and I had been procrastinating bringing him just because. Seeing Daniel so confident and proud to be in his uniform made me feel guilty. I felt like a bad mom because I had neglected to listen and see what karate could do for my son. Right after that meeting, both Salvatore and I went into the karate school and scheduled a lesson for him.

Brenda with her two boys.

I watched Salvatore take his introductory lesson with Sensei Gene Dunn, who to me seemed like a gentle giant. Sensei was warm with Salvatore, caring, and he expressed how much he truly loved teaching and seeing children flourish in the Martial Arts. I knew right then and there I was in a good place. During that lesson, Salvatore showed qualities that I had never seen in him before. He was listening well, following directions, showing confidence right away. Seeing him so happy just made it so worth it. I knew that training in the martial arts would be a way to raise not only Salvatore, but also my younger son (who at that time was in a carriage just dying to be on the mat with his older brother, but was only 3).

Looking back through the years now I can see that raising both Salvatore and Matteo in the Martial Arts has impacted there lives tremendously. Both my sons trained through their elementary, junior high school and high school years. The Martial Arts has taught them so many valuable lessons, like keeping away from the weak and troubled but still having compassion for those who tried to steer them in the wrong direction. It’s taught them to be the leaders and not the followers in life. I’ve watched as it has instilled in them an inner confidence. This is something which cannot be expressly taught, but can be learned – I watched it as they saw themselves achieving goals and realizing their true capacities.

The Martial Arts has taught them to be active, and it has taught them to find focus and stillness. Both Salvatore and Matteo are musicians and the discipline and focus instilled through the years of training has allowed them to be successful in that field as well: Salvatore was accepted to a prestigious high school for music, and Matteo was in a marching band in High School. The Martial Arts helped them to take hits as well, and it prepared them for anything that may come, whether it be good or bad.

The greatest gift that the Martial Arts has given them is this self-confidence and self-respect. With this inner confidence, they’ve understood with reassurance that life can have obstacles, but it is how we handle these obstacles that make the difference. We can learn from mistakes, and our role as students in life is to just keep learning from those mistakes.

Not only have my sons benefited from the program at Gene Dunn’s Karate, but as a parent, I have also learned so much through the years. I have learned to be a better parent by accepting each one of my sons for their individual accomplishments. I have learned not to be so critical of each and every move. I have learned not to use the Martial Arts as a way to withhold or punish my children (for example, I held my son back from a promotion due to his behavior at home and at school and until this day – 14 years later – he still brings it up to me).

Salvatore and Matteo training karate as juniors.

As a parent, I have loved the Martial Arts and, thanks to my sons, was able to experience some of it myself. While I saw how much my sons enjoyed it and supported their progress through the years, I didn’t have the confidence to get on the mat to train. Finally, after three years of bringing my sons to the program and wondering what it would be like to actually do it myself, Sensei Gene Dunn approached me. He reassured me that I wouldn’t be embarrassed by anyone and that I would be taken care of. After that, my relationship with my kids took a huge step forward. Our connection to one another grew so much stronger. My sons, who were under the age of ten, both coached me and helped me in any way they could to make sure I felt confident with my karate. The roles were reversed – my sons were teaching me and I needed them and they loved to help me. That was priceless! The common bond we all shared had made our relationship stronger. And as they moved into their teenage years, we learned to communicate even better. Both Sal and Matt were assisting in the children’s classes at the karate school, and they both had this inner confidence that allowed other students to look up to them. They also assisted in the special needs class that were held at the school.

As the boys grew older, they graduated from the Juniors classes into the Adult program. We now had the privilege of training together in the same class. Could you imagine, mom and sons training together, side by side, supporting one another? Where else could we have found something like that? Soon after that, my husband realized he was missing out on a lot, so he also began training as well. Today, we have all earned black belts, and we’ve done it together. I am very proud to say that
we are a black belt family.

By Brenda Ferrara

Anton’s Purple Belt Essay

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
Before Anton earned his purple belt, we asked him: How has this training impacted your life? What does committment mean to you in training? In your life? How are you preparing to be a black belt right now?

I have said many times that starting to train with BBJJ is one of the best decisions I have ever made. It is a decision that has and continues to inspire the direction of my life in a positive manner. From training I have lost weight, gained confidence, gained focus and found a deeper well of compassion than I ever knew I had. Yet all of this is really the icing on the cake. 

I’ve always felt a little separated from the crowd and as a result have looked many places to find where my puzzle piece fits. Because of this my life has been one of many interests and experiences that have taken me around the world and through many crazy situations. Throughout all of my experiences though I can definitively say: Brooklyn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is where I have found a community that I am proud to be a part of. 

These students are some of the kindest and most interesting people I have ever met. Here we can go from working with a three year old taking their first few steps in a gi to working with a 65 year old veteran that is pursuing a new kind of health in their retirement. And there is a lesson in each of these experiences. Some of these lessons teach you how gentle interaction can be. Some teach you that power and strength don’t come from muscles, but from your observation and focused effort. Some just teach you how to give and receive. Sometimes it’s just learning how to let go.

When I think about all of this in terms of commitment and black belt I associate it to marriage. Last summer I was lucky enough to be married to someone that shares, and in many ways drives my passion for physical learning. Sharing the training as we do has brought us closer and provided us with physical and mental tools to de-stress and positively approach most things. In marriage, you can’t just give up because you have a bad day, a fight, or a misunderstanding. A commitment was made to see it through to the end, so the obligation of the committed is to manage that possibility and make it so. The same can be said of training. When we first sat down to talk about the programs at BBJJ I was told “everyone’s minimum goal in the martial arts is Black Belt”. This makes complete sense to me. The black belt is like the wedding band that you wear for life as a symbol of the dedication to who and what you love. But I think of all the belts leading up to it as a courtship. As learning how to be the person that deserves to put a black belt on. 

If I want to be a good partner, both in my marriage and in my training I have to keep one essential idea in mind: I have to listen. BBJJ is beautifully constructed to aid with this as everything we do is focused around how to listen: to the instructor, to the partner, to your own body. We learn better how to mold ourselves to the situation or person that we are dealing with. This ultimately comes from Shihan and all the Professors working so hard to be ambassadors of a cultural shift towards the positive. We are fortunate that this ideology is imbued into the training every day as it reinforces positivity within ourselves and our lives. It is very hard to stay positive in the face of all the criticism, cynicism and doubt cast by much of society, so this community in response becomes all the more precious. 

But I digress. What I wanted to talk about here is commitment and why that is so important within the martial arts setting. There is something lost in the world when learning a trade is no longer valued. When the process of apprenticeship is cast to the wayside in favor of a quick fix or easy dollar. Martial arts training does not let one hide from being an apprentice, an uke, a kohai. Having a Shihan, Professor, or Sensei is far more than having a teacher. It is having a mentor that helps you to become a better you. This process to me is one of the central aims of my life, and thus one of the most important processes to approach intelligently. The commitment to black belt is the commitment to these mentors, to your process of self actualization. I would no more give up on this training than I would give up on being married. You have to be committed to see the real value to what we are doing. You have to be willing to face hardships, doubt and challenges…because on the other side is triumph and understanding. Real value that is immeasurable and immaterial.

So how am I preparing to be a black belt right now? I am taking small measured steps, trying to see where I can give more, how I can better be of help, what I can do to better understand technique and its application, and where it is that I am still blind. I’ve heard it said that “you don’t really deserve your next belt until you have helped someone receive theirs”, and I think that there is some real truth to this. What kind of black belt would I be if all of my effort was just focused inwards? If I never took the time or consideration to work with someone rather than against them? I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out either. Thus far the gains made by learning how to give far outweigh any “gains” I have ever seen by being selfish. Black belt is, to me, about learning how to better be selfless. Every day it is my hope to have given something more than the day before. To have inspired someone just a little bit more on their path to black belt in the hopes that one day I can live up to the responsibility of wearing one around my own waist. 

I thank all of my fellow students and staff members. I thank the Professors. I thank Shihan. I thank this community for inspiring the best version of me to come into existence…and I will see you all at black belt.