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Nino Schembri Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

May 16, 2016

The new generation of BJJ may not be as familiar with Nino.  He is one of the all time greats and did Rubber Guard before anyone even knew what it was or had a name for it.  The gogoplata, yeah, he invented that.  He’s known for his omoplatas and love of Elvis and he leads a really fun class with a truly personal touch.

Front Desk

The Gym:

The gym has a good amount of mat space with a picture of Carlos Gracie and Elvis on the wall above his logo.  He has a nice front desk with merchandise available and a cool tribute wall with pictures and magazine covers from his many successes.  There’s a side mat space with heavy bags. The changing room is narrow but has plenty of room and the mats are lined with a few benches for spectators.

Heavy Bags

First Impressions:

I called in advance and was told about the mat fee and that Nino would be teaching.  He and his brother teach the majority of the classes.  I was greeted by black belt Ben who gave me the lay of the land and a very warm welcome.  There were about 15 students on the mat for the advanced class with every belt represented.  When Nino arrived he immediately sought me out and remembered my name easily, something I’m always impressed by because I have a terrible time remembering names.

Nino Signature pose

Teaching Style:

Technique wasn’t covered in the advanced class as it was meant to push the group.  Nino coached everyone through conditioning and then we did 3, 10 minute rounds of sparring.  The fundamental class that followed was taught by Nino’s brother Peppe.  He is slow and methodical in his approach with excellent details.  After showing the technique he spends a lot of time working with each individual group to ensure they are executing the technique correctly.

Crawl

What to Expect:

You will do work at this gym.  Nino lead the warmup for the advanced class starting in the Gracie Barra Style with jumping jacks, squats, pushups, bridges, triangles, and hip escapes.  Then it got more dynamic with cartwheels , shrimping, army crawls, and guard sit ups.  All of that was followed by 100 armbars in the guard per person.  Nino was the only one who made it all the way through the 100.

Peppe armbar

The fundamental class that followed focused on positions and covered breaking the closed guard, passing, S mount, and an armbar finish.  He shared some excellent tips and details that I probably wouldn’t have appreciated in the early stages of my BJJ journey.  The technique is top notch.

Jesse armbar

Nino’s Style:

The first roll we were instructed to keep one hand tucked in the belt.  Nino asked me to roll with him right out of the gate which was really cool.  He had great body movement and leg dexterity.  It was fairly back and forth and I think he was using the time more to gauge how hard I was going to roll and how skilled I was.  He asked me to do a regular round of training immediately after.  His legs are some of the strongest I’ve ever felt.  It was like rolling with someone who had crab claws for legs.  His transitions were extremely quick and he had a modified armdrag that started from a belt grip that was really difficult to stop.

Nino Lucky

His top game was better than I expected.  He had a crushing pressure game focusing on pinning your hips and passing.  He preferred attacking from the mount and used an S mount with his knee up that for most people would have aided in escaping the potions…but those crab legs…they made it virtually impossible to go anywhere.

me and nino

Closing Thoughts:

One of the coolest moments, aside from rolling with Nino, was seeing how a brand new White belt was treated on his first day of class.  I was so impressed with the fact that Nino sat side by side with him and gave a ton of personal attention.  You could see his passion for people and helping people get better at Jiu Jitsu.  The gym has a cool vibe and some very skilled practitioners.  Anyone would benefit from training there and it was a fun environment with Nino pushing the group hard but still taking time to laugh and goof around. And just to prove he has an awesome sense of humor, and misses the warm weather of Brazil, he threw on socks and a hoodie which I found really amusing!

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