FAQs | Radical MMA
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Q: What are your rates?
Our rate for unlimited training, seven days a week, in our martial art classes is the best in the city. All combined our tuition is just $199 per month with a six month membership to the academy.

This ALSO gives you full access to our weight training gym, as we have an entire floor fully stocked with all the equipment you need to develop a high level of functional fitness. You get a martial art academy and a gym with only one price!

The payment is a monthly auto-pay deduction from a credit or debit card. All the information about our schedule, tuition, and location are listed on the Classes page.

Q: How do I set up a first class and what do I need for it?
To try a class, please send us an email, and we will schedule a time for you to come in. The first class will be a short private lesson with Coach Dreifuss, and then participation in our group class afterward.

All you need for the first class is a pair of shorts (no metal buttons or zippers), and a somewhat tight fitting t-shirt or rashguard, which is a type of compression shirt made of lycra.

You will not need hand wraps, a mouthpiece or a cup for your first class. It is a good idea to bring a bottle of water, and do not eat anything too heavy prior to training.

Q: What do I need to buy if I join?
If you decide to join and commit to serious training you should get a rashguard/compression shirt and pair of MMA shorts or board shorts. This is for both hygiene and safety issues. We do recommend you get kneepads, as wrestling training can be hard on the knees without protection.

As you will be focusing on Jiu-jitsu, Judo and Wrestling in the beginning of your training you won’t need any striking gear (wraps, gloves, or protective gear) for some time. When you graduate to striking I can again recommend some places to purchase equipment. We also have some shared equipment at the academy.

Q: Do you sell equipment?
We don’t sell equipment at this time but you can easily pick these items up at sports stores like Modell’s or on Amazon. On our website we have a Suggested Gear page that lists some very inexpensive options. A short sleeve shirt is about $17 and the shorts are around the same price.

I am not affiliated with any company and you can get any brand you like, so please feel free to look around.

Q: Am I required to buy a specific brand? Can I wear gear from another academy?
We don’t have any brand requirements. As long as your gear is safe and clean we are cool. I personally hate when schools force you to buy their own equipment. I feel it’s very sleazy. If you have gear from another academy that is safe and hygienic then you are more than welcome to wear it.
Q: I have never trained MMA or any martial art before. Do I need any prior experience? Is MMA training too intense for me?
Don’t worry. Never having trained before means you don’t have any bad habits to correct. You need no prior experience to start. Remember even the most successful champions all started from nothing.

Yes, MMA training can be intense, but we will start you off in separate style classes, that are divided to ensure you gain a fundamental understanding of each art. Also beginners are slowly and patiently taught until they are ready to take their training to the next level. However, we will push you to be the best you can be…that’s what martial arts are all about. But all you need is a little heart and you’ll be fine.

Q: I am a bit out of shape but bored with the gym. Is this academy right for me?
Our training offers a fantastic workout. But more importantly you will learn a mentally challenging skill that will give you an immense feeling of accomplishment.
Q: Isn’t MMA violent? I don’t want to train with meatheads.
Fighting is violent, but MMA at it’s technical best is about controlling violence with skill and finesse. In particular, Jiu-jitsu offers the means by which a small man may defeat a larger one. Jiu-jitsu is the opposite of brute force; it is a physical chess game that allows an intelligent, strategic fighter to win. In our training we will always emphasize the use of technique over brawn.

More importantly, all our instructors stress martial art ethics, using training as a way to better oneself. We make sure each person on the mat is respectful to everyone and keeps training safe and enjoyable. No meatheads or bullies allowed (and if you do encounter one outside the gym, you’ll have the tools to take care of yourself).

Q: Do you offer private training?
Private training is offered seven days a week by appointment.
Q: Is your class just for men?
We welcome anyone seriously interested in learning the wonderful art of Jiu-jitsu and MMA regardless of gender, age or experience. We also offer specialized rape/sexual assault defense classes and seminars.


Q: How does your program work?
In terms of how our program works, we place a strong emphasis on learning grappling skills prior to moving on to striking. I would like to explain our approach more when we train, but for now I suggest you watch this video, which describes our system.

While we do not start you in full MMA training, we focus on MMA ready techniques of MMA Submission fighting and Shoot-boxing. Therefore, when you are ready to begin your MMA training you will have nothing to unlearn and will be free of any bad habits.

Q: What is a typical class like?
Our classes begin with a conditioning warm up, then move onto technique, where fighting moves are taught and practiced to perfection. After the technique section students who are ready are allowed to participate in sparring. In grappling classes it will be submission fight sparring or clinch sparring, and the level of intensity will be adjusted to the level of the student. In striking classes sparring will be boxing, kickboxing or shoot-boxing sparring depending on the lesson and experience of the students.
Q: How is the training structured?
1. Curriculum
We have an organized, very logical progression of techniques based around understanding of takedowns, dominant positions, and submissions. You will cycle through each technique and learn our system step by step. Each class you will be evaluated on your skill in a certain move and will go to the next only when each has been mastered. Our system includes a lot of review of major concepts and moves, so we find it is rare for beginners to feel lost or overwhelmed.

2. Typical Class
Our MMA Jiu-jitsu classes typically go follow the progression below:
– Light warm up
– Challenging conditioning routine based on grappling movements and techniques
– Punch defense and clinch training
– Takedown training (Judo and wrestling)
– Group technical Jiu-jitsu training (techniques the entire class trains based on monthly themes)
– Individual technical training (all students work on individual moves based on their level of experience and their own personal style)
– Live sparring (Note: Jiu-jitsu Fundamentals classes do not generally include sparring)

Q: Why are the classes separated by styles and not taught in an MMA class all together?
MMA is a combination of three styles of fighting: Striking, Takedowns/Throws, and submission fighting. All three have their own distinct principles. At Radical MMA we believe in respecting and learning each fighting science individually before you begin fully cross-training.

We want to develop technical, truly skilled fighters not brawlers. By training all three styles once you’ll become the proverbial “Jack of all trades master of none.” Start one style, achieve a high level of skill in it, and then begin cross training. That is the path to a becoming a successful mixed martial artist.

There is tremendous amount of evidence to back up our approach. It is now almost impossible to find an MMA champion in any division, in any weight class, anywhere in the world who began their fighting career studying “MMA.” The best fighters either started in wrestling, BJJ or striking, and only after honing their skills in one art did they turn their attention to other disciplines (over the nearly 20 year history of modern MMA, there have been a small number of exceptions; while every now and again an MMA only trained fighter becomes a champion, like Forrest Griffin, they have all lost their titles soon after)

At the Radical dojo once you have reached a high level of skill you will be allowed to begin MMA training with the advanced students and fight team.

Q: What do you mean Jiu-jitsu for MMA? How is it different from No-gi Jiu-jitsu?
When we grapple we will ALWAYS allow ground and pound (striking an opponent on the ground) during grappling. To prevent injury, we simulate full power strikes by slapping our training partner and understanding that unanswered slaps are equivalent to a KO. For fight team members we train with MMA gloves and add full strikes.

Why do we do this? How many times have you seen a world champion black belt in BJJ have absolutely no guard game in MMA? The answer is quite often. Some people blame gi training, maintaining that the fighters are not used to fighting without the gi, and are looking for grips that aren’t there. While that is definitely true to some extent, there is also a long list of “No-gi” champions who have done poorly in MMA. While the no-gi element is the same as MMA, not having punches greatly changes the game. When “ground & pound” strikes are added a lot of what works in submission wrestling has to be thrown out as those moves leave you wide open for counter punches to the face.

The way you think about posture, the way you attack, and the angles you play have to be thought of in a context of defending a barrage of strikes flying at your face. For a great example of how not to play guard in MMA take a look at the Brandon Vera vs. John Jones or Stipe Miocic vs. Alistair Overeem.

Q: What is Shoot-boxing?
Shoot-boxing is a sport pioneered in Asia, Russia and Brazil, and is the most innovative and cutting edge approach to stand up fighting. It is the stand-up portion of MMA; it melds precision boxing, Muay Thai kickboxing’s kicks, knees and elbows, with wrestling and Judo. It combines striking and stand-up wrestling into a brutally effective, sophisticated, and devastating pattern of attacks.
Q: What is the advantage of Shoot-boxing over Muay Thai?
Shoot-boxing is an all-inclusive, no-rules approach to stand-up fighting. If you are training for MMA or self-defense, arbitrary rule systems (like boxing rules that prohibit kicks, or Thai rules that prohibit wrestling throws) are not realistic. Fighting does not have made up rules. Fighting is fighting. So when we do stand-up training our goal is to EVENTUALLY mix everything you could possibly do in a stand-up encounter.

That being said, in our academy we make sure everything is technical before mixing. Radical students start off with good boxing fundamentals, move on to kicks and then add the rest of the game in a step-by-step manner. We are the only academy in the NYC area specifically specializing in this innovative style.

Q: What's the difference between Shoot-boxing, Shootfighting and Shooto?
Shoot-boxing is a hybrid martial art that combines Muay Thai and takedowns. Both Shooto and Shoot-fighting are different from Shoot-boxing. It can get confusing if you don’t know the Japanese fighting scene.

Shooto is a Japanese based MMA organization that holds MMA matches mostly in a ring. It is no different from any other MMA organization, but has a strong amateur and grass roots level of activity; sort of like a low level UFC.

Shoot-fighting is a style of submission grappling that refers to the style used by Japanese pro-wrestlers who actually fight. Ken Shamrock and his brother would be considered Shoot-fighters. It is heavily influenced by arts of Catch Wrestling and Russian CAMBO.

Q: What are the benefits of doing grappling first?
I have actually studied 18 different martial arts in my life and have achieve instructor ranks in a number of them. Contrary to what most people think I did not start in grappling (way back in 1975), but actually in the striking arts. I believe all full contact, realistic martial arts training has value. Every art has something to offer! BUT rooting your martial arts in grappling gives a TREMENDOUS advantage for the following reasons.

1. Self Defense:
According to Justice Department crime statistics, gender equivalent assaults enter the grappling range (not ground necessarily but grabbing range, in either standing or ground) within 3-5 seconds. Gender non-equivalent assaults are actually even faster. So to defend yourself you need to understand these ranges.

2. MMA:
MMA is not so different from self defense in that a huge portion of the fight (2/3rds actually) is grappling. If you look at the historical champions in MMA, a majority (87% of UFC champs) come from a grappling background, either wrestling, Judo, Jiu-jitsu or Cambo. A huge amount of the top strikers in MMA today (TJ Dillashaw, Dominick Cruz, Demetrious Johnson, Henry Cejudo, Frankie Edgar, Tyrone Woodley, Jon Jones, ) started out as grapplers and the ones that didn’t spend an enormous time training grappling (Bisping, McGregor and Shevchenko all now have extensive grappling credentials, and only really started winning after they learned how to wrestle). Here is a great video explaining why that is Why Grappling Makes you a Better Striker.

3. Body Control Over a Larger, Stronger Opponent:
Grappling and Jiu-jitsu in particular teaches you two very important things in terms of control. First it teaches you how to control another person’s body. This skill can not be underestimated in how it helps you in confrontations. Understanding how to make another person basically into a human pretzel is a massive, massive advantage over larger, stronger and more aggressive opponents. You also can scale your response from just holding someone, to potentially lethal force if necessary. Learning how to use leverage is the cornerstone of what we do in Jiu-jitsu, and it becomes a force multiplier that evens the scales against much bigger assailants.

4 Personal Body Control:
The second “control” advantage grappling gives is how to really control your own body in multiple angles of movement. If you look at boxing it takes place in one dimension (fighting on the feet), but grappling matches are like two cats fighting, and hit every single angle of movement humanly possible in a 360 degrees and in three dimensions. This massively improves coordination, balance and what is known in sport science as “proprioception”, which is a fancy way of saying your unconscious sense of your body in space. This improvement in kinesthetic awareness is one of the major reasons why I always have students focus on grappling.

Jiu-jitsu not only teaches you how to fight, but improves your athletic ability. Training boxing or kickboxing often demands you be a little athletic, but Jiu-jitsu actually helps you develop or improve your coordination, balance and other innate athletic abilities. I can’t tell you how many students I have had who came to me and said that doing grappling helped them be a better boxer, kickboxer etc. and I have had a number of police officers even tell me it has made them more accurate in target shooting. My wife thinks her Jiu-jitsu training was instrumental in having her get to the next level in her yoga practice.

5. Combat Experience:
Unlike striking, in grappling you can spar every day without serious injury. Because of brain damage issues, you can not go full contact in striking more than a few times a week. But it precisely the sparring training that makes you a better fighter. With grappling you can fight 100% every single day and not get injured. This allows you to rack up the hours of experience. So a striker who has been training a year is generally not as proficient in his style as a grappler who has been training the same amount of time. You get better faster because you are able to spar so much more. Your body in turn understands how to be a weapon much better.

6. Control of Stress Response:
I would actually say this is one of the most important benefits of Jiu-jitsu. In grappling, and in Jiu-jitsu in particular, you are being put into positions that absolutely feel terrible. At first your natural reaction will be to panic and when that happens you will lose. The most important skill in any form of fighting or conflict resolution is a cool head. In Jiu-jitsu you are basically simulating murder (choking people) every single time you fight. You will learn to surf your adrenaline response and control your feeling of panic and or any claustrophobic reactions you might have to horribly uncomfortable positions. You mentally become tougher, and calmer under pressure. I am not saying striking training doesn’t develop this. It can, eventually, but it takes much longer because of the absence of live sparring everyday.

Q: How long does it take to be allowed into Shoot-boxing?
My answer to this is it will take as long as it takes.

Our only criteria is the following: can you fight technically against a larger, stronger opponent using the techniques you are supposed to know. If you can do that, then you graduate. If you can’t, you don’t. No exceptions. So if you are getting dominated or barely surviving in Jiu-jitsu and or takedown sparring then you aren’t ready. If you are using strength instead of technique, you aren’t ready. But if you are doing what you are supposed to, defending well and attacking technically with a good understanding of wrestling Judo and Jiu-jitsu, then you graduate.

Some people learn slow, some fast. One student got his first stripe in three months, another has been here a over a year and hasn’t gotten it. If you train hard and diligently, then I would be surprised if it took a very long time. But then again some people just learn a little more slowly. There is only one standard, and we never, ever compromise. Everyone gets there eventually if they are training hard.

I would say if you are very interested in doing striking from day one, then we are not the right academy for you.

Q: Do you teach leg locks?
When I lived in Japan I was able to train with a number of leg lock specialists, who would have been considered some of the best leg lockers on the planet at the time. I strongly believe in the efficacy of leg attacks, when done correctly. However, I absolutely believe that they must be part of a solid grappling game with good Jiu-jitsu fundamentals. This is why I do not allow beginner white belts to do leg locks.

In my personal experience I was known as the “leg lock guy” in Jiu-jitsu circles. Even in Brazil they would often call me ‘Zapateiro’ which is a slightly pejorative nickname given to guys who dive for the legs. WHat I noticed however was that over time my training partners who were not going for the legs, but focusing on passing the guard, pinning their opponents, and developing positional transitions…basically the foundations of a good Jiu-jitsu game… all started improving much faster than I was. I really felt at one point I was stagnating compared to them. So I made decision to hang that game up on the shelf, and work solid basics. That was when I really felt my BJJ game skyrocket.

The second reason is that much of the leg lock attacks we see today can leave you vulnerable to strikes in MMA. So in our academy only when you have a good understanding of transitions, do we integrate the leg lock game. This allows you to not get stuck underneath someone eating leather, but transition away to a better control.

White belts at four stripes begin to learn the leg game and we really emphasize it at blue and purple. I have a number of high level students now who have excellent leg attacks in addition to a phenomenal understanding of the traditional Jiu-jitsu game. The leg attacks are the proverbial icing on the cake!

Q: Do you have a fight team? When can I train full MMA?
Yes we have a fight team. Junior members compete in no-gi grappling tournaments and Muay Thai competitions. The senior members compete in MMA. Once you have demonstrated enough skill you can train with the advanced students, and can try out for our fight team anytime. But our system is one of progression, so you must develop mastery in grappling before moving on to striking and then, only when the coaches deem you are ready, on to MMA.
Q: What do you cover in your Self Defense Class?
In our self-defense we deal with a lot of issues. First how an attack escalates, how to deal with law enforcement after an attack, and also common attack patterns and defenses. Scenarios are based on crime statistics, and deal with rape defense for women, knife defense for advanced students, being attack while sitting or in tight spaces, as well as many other situations.

Once the moves are understood we add a reality element and train against “live” resistance. Without live training the moves are meaningless. As Bruce Lee said, “It is not enough to know, you must apply.” Meaning, you have to be able to execute techniques against a resisting opponent, in a real fight context. So when the students are ready, we escalate the intensity.

Promotion and Belt Requirements

Q: Do you have belts?
Yes, we are a registered IBJJF academy, and for our Jiu-jitsu program we follow the normal five belt BJJ ranking system. But instead of thinking about belts, we encourage our students to focus on improving their technique with consistent, high-quality training. Royce Gracie once said that a belt only covers four inches of your rear end, the rest you have to cover yourself.

Also we are an MMA academy so our curriculum encompasses more than a standard sport BJJ program (See answer to next question).

Q: What is required for promotion?
We have a curriculum for all belt levels, which is made available to all students. Promotions contain a test of technical knowledge from the curriculum, a significant amount of sparring, and a conditioning/fitness section.

Our ranking is in our Radical MMA / self defense fighting system of which BJJ, Judo and wrestling are integral parts. As I said, we do use the standard BJJ belt progression, but for example a blue belt under us would encompass everything a BJJ blue belt would be expected to know, and also include a high level of takedown knowledge drawing from Judo and wrestling, as well as a very strong understanding of self defense concepts and MMA strategies (blocking punches, ground and pound defense, and some stand up striking). Basically, a student must know how to fight in a grappling heavy manner, and eventually in all ranges of combat with all the tools possible, including punches, kicks submissions and chokes.

For purple belt and above students will have to spar multiple matches under both MMA and Vale Tudo rules against the other students.

Q: I am not sure if I want to compete. Is competition required for promotion?
Competition is a matter of choice. I will never force you to compete in any manner, and competing is not necessary for promotion. However, I do always recommend competing at some point because it’s a great experience. It’s very different in the gym versus in a tournament, when someone you don’t know is doing their absolute best to crush you.

For purple belt ranks and above, we require that you be able to spar in an MMA format, but you will never be required to compete in a sanctioned MMA bout. However, again, I would like to stress that competition is an amazing experience that I recommend students aim for if their life and schedules permit.



The students and fight team are the most welcoming and ego-less group I’ve ever trained with. Everyone is just eager to train and eager to help.
Max K.