Luiz Claudio Combat Team (LCCT) Gym Review
I had a lot of correspondence with Luiz Claudio and his students prior to this trip.
Needless to say, they were very, very enthusiastic about having me visit their gym.
Luiz Claudio Combat Team (LCCT) Address:
2255 S Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60616
Luiz Claudio Combat Team (LCCT) Instructor(s):
Thiago Veiga – BJJ Black Belt under Rickson Gracie, 2x Mundial Champion (5x Mundial Medalist)
Luiz Claudio Combat Team’s Current Schedule:
Monday 10am to 11:30am, gi, 7pm to 8:30pm, gi, 8:30pm to 9:30pm, open mat
Tuesday 7pm to 8:30pm, no gi, 8:30pm to 9:30pm, open mat
Wednesday 10am to 11:30am, gi, 7pm to 8:30pm, gi, 8:30pm to 9:30pm, open mat
Thursday 7pm to 8:30pm, no gi, 8:30pm to 9:30pm, open mat
Friday 10am to 11:30am, gi, 7pm to 8:30pm, gi, 8:30pm to 9:30pm, open mat
The Monkey Bar Gym is offering one free week of jiu jitsu training for all new prospects; ask for Luiz Claudio or Rafal at the door.
Luiz Claudio Combat Team’s Facility:
Luiz Claudio Combat Team is located inside of the Monkey Bar Gymnasium in Chicago. It’s very easy to get to coming off of the Dan Ryan (if you come from the south, like I did). It’s two simple turns off of the expressway and you’re there.
Parking: If you’re a baller and want to pay for street parking on Michigan Avenue, you can. But if you’re “cost conscious” like I am, there is a ton of street parking available on 23rd and 24th St.
The facility is actually very nice. A lot of the men and women that train at LCCT also come and do the training classes that Monkey Bar Gym offers. They do a lot of bodyweight, gymnastics, kettlebell, and various ‘functional’ movements. I hesitate to say ‘functional’ because, in the fitness world, I hate that word. Technically, any freeweight or bodyweight movement is functional, from a deadlift to a back handspring, and I typically see ‘functional’ as a marketing ploy.
But, I will say this, the level of body control, agility, and mobility that the dedicated students at LCCT showed is truly fantastic. As a purple belt, I was unable to correctly do many of the agility drills that they did, while their blue and purple belts were incredible at them. I feel that the training they do in class, in addition to the training at MBG, really assists in their ability to do play a very strong and unique style of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
The mat space is very spacious and clean. The large city windows make for a very cool urban atmosphere. The locker rooms are very nice and there are multiple showers for you to use.
We started the class without wearing our gi jackets and did a traditional jogging series of exercises that I have found to be common at many BJJ academies. What was uncommon, however, was what came next.
We began with simple rolls and sit-throughs and progressed into inversion drills, headstands, breakfalls, cartwheels, etc. All of which were incredibly humbling. I didn’t feel like I could do any of them right!
What made me feel at ease was not only the encouragement from the blue and purple belts, all of which could do the drills very well, but also the encouragement from Luiz. As we progressed through the lines, Luiz would make sure to give personal assistance to anybody who was struggling until they got it, myself included. While very difficult, these drills were definitely valuable to BJJ and could be learned with practice.
Our technique for the day included fine points about controlling somebody when they turtle. Luiz emphasized things that he reffered as Rickson Gracie’s “Invisible Jiu-Jitsu.” This doesn’t mean that Rickson is some sort of mystical ninja or that it’s some sort of secret.
“Invisible Jiu-Jitsu,” as taught by Rickson Gracie and Luiz Claudio, is merely jiu-jitsu that is not seen by the average person. In this case, it was small variations in points of control against turtle, position of the hips, and a very cool way of forcing the person to carry your weight.
I spent some time talking to Luiz about how he put his weight into the person on bottom and he showed me how he also used it in a very unique side control (think: reverse scarf) movement, but I used it in training this past Monday and my training partner actually tapped from the “weight” of my side control. This, to me, is the essence of what Luiz was trying to teach about. Like the movements at the beginning of class, this is clearly something that can be taught (and learned!), but rarely is.
After technique, we sparred. I had the opportunity during this time not only to interview Ben Rothwell (who would have been on the mat, in a gi, had he not had to leave early due to family obligations), but also to roll with one of Luiz’s purple belts and Luiz himself! It is always a privilege to be asked to roll with the instructor and to see the instructor actively training with their students.
The same type of pressure, this kinetic connection, was pretty evident during rolling. Every push, pull, frame, escape, etc. was exact and solid. It was a lot of fun being able to roll with others who have such a different style than I do.
As I said at the beginning, the students at LCCT are very passionate about their team and their instructor. And they should be. Luiz Claudio is a fantastic instructor with a very quickly growing academy here in Chicago. I look forward to seeing them compete at the higher belt levels in the future (and seeing Luiz coach them as only he can!) and I hope to be able to train with them again soon.
Everybody who has trained Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for a while knows that skill comes in ebbs and flows. Every once in a while you have that ‘Aha!’ moment while you are training and a whole new door is opened to you allowing you to progress rapidly for a time thereafter. I vividly remember my first while training half-guard with Felipe Costa and Comprido at Flo and another training butterfly and open guard with Miguel Torres at my home academy.
I am not sure if it was by coincidence, but I had one of those moments while training at LCCT. Parts of my game have opened up before where they were closed, and my physical training has taken another direction as well. I am not saying that you will have the exact same experience I have had at LCCT, but it isn’t impossible, either.
Thanks for reading! A special thanks to Luiz Claudio and his students for opening up the academy to me!! Thanks to all of the new friends I’ve made at LCCT!