This Week, we Interviewed the winner of the “find the technique of the day” contest on our Facebook Page. He is a really cool guy, Danny Stolfi and it was absolutely an honor and cool to share this time with him.
Here is a bit about him, who he is, where he is from and what his view on Jits is.
GP: Where do you train from and who do you train under?
DS: I train on Long Island in NY at Serra Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy, under Matt and Nick Serra. We also have handful of other excellent Brown/Black belt instructors teaching as well.
GP: How long have you been grappling, doing jits for?
DS: I wrestled one season in high school (2006-2007), I didn’t take it as serious as I could have but I did retain some valuable lessons and techniques.
I started training BJJ the summer of 2009, so almost 3 years now. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
GP: What is you favorite submission, escape, pass? why?
DS: My favorites are always changing as I learn new techniques so I’ll give you what’s hitting with me currently.
Favorite submission: Lapel choke from top half guard, where you pull the far collar out and feed it behind the guy’s neck, tripod up and into a knee slide, switch hands on the collar and go for the cross collar lapel choke from there. This one just feels really good to pull off. And if you don’t get it, you’re not sacrificing position.
Favorite escape: I’ll go with the basic elbow escape from mount, because ‘if you can’t escape the mount you’re not gonna get anywhere in Jiu Jitsu’ (paraphrasing one of my instructors).
Favorite pass: Knee slide from open guard. From there depending on the opponent’s reaction, you can go to the folding pass, the x-pass or even the leg drag pass.
GP: what is your favorite take-down? why?
DS: Probably the single leg, I wrestled for a season, and that’s just a basic takedown that I got pretty good at.
In competition, I pull guard! Because I think in the structure of a tournament you don’t have much time to mess around on the feet. I have to get to my game right away, and my best game is off of my back. But I’m improving my top game of course.
GP: Do you compete? if yes, where and how did you place to name a few?
DS: Yes I compete. I’ve competed in many small tournaments around NY and NJ. The biggest ones I’ve done are the IBJJF No-Gi Pan Am (2011, Blue Belt/Middleweight), Abu Dhabi World Pro Trials NY (2012, Blue Belt/Under 163lbs), and the IBJJF NY Open (2012, Blue Belt/Lightweight).
At the No-Gi Pans I lost my first match. It was the biggest tournament I had been in at the time and I went in unprepared mentally.
At the WPJJ Trials I submitted my first opponent and was submitted by my next opponent. It was a good learning experience. I made very basic mistakes that I could learn from. I also learned a bit about competing.
At the NY Open I was able to submit my first four opponents. I then lost the finals by submission, which was crushing. I ended up taking Silver. Overall this was the best performance of my BJJ career.
I love competing and I can see myself improving every time I compete. I’ll be going to the World’s at the end of the month and I’m working hard to bring home the gold! Wish me luck!
GP: What do you like most about this sport?
What I like most about this sport is that I’m always learning. And I can play different roles in the learning process. At times I can be the teacher with lower belts, for the most part I’m the attentive student. There are always new things to learn and try, it never gets boring.
GP: Has this sport changed your life? how did you find it or how did it find you?
DS: Absolutely, Jiu Jitsu has given me direction, it’s given me an outlet, and it’s given me a purpose. I found Jiu Jitsu while looking for a gym to work out at. I almost signed up to a ‘Globo Gym’ type of place with one of my friends to lift weights. But before committing to that we decided to stop by this ‘Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’ place and see what it was all about. We ended up doing an intro and I loved it immediately. My friend decided not to sign up, he doesn’t know what he’s missing.
GP: What are your goals in this sport? casual? competition? own a school?
DS: My goal is to be a World Champion at all belts. After that I want to own a school and continue to spread Jiu Jitsu.
I subscribe to the philosophy that if you choose a job you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. The ultimate goal is life long happiness. J
GP: When someone has a hard time in jits or grappling, how do you help them keep your head high?
I try to help them understand that even though they’re getting smashed or having a hard time right now, it won’t last forever, they will be smashing people one day. There’s a quote by Renzo that Sensei Matt shared with us, you may have heard it, “The secret of this sport is, while you’re the nail, hang in there, let them hit you, until the day you become the hammer, then you smash them back!”
GP: In one word, how can you describe our sport?
DS: Endless. I’m taking this from a video with Robson Moura, but it’s completely true, I mean, it must be if he’s saying it, right?
Thank you GrapplersPlanet for doing this interview with me. Thank you to all of my instructors at Serra BJJ, and thanks to my Serra BJJ brothers. One love.
GP: Danny, it was a great pleasure working with you on this article and you seem to be a great Friend, Teammate and fighter, we wish you the best and to have a long and healthy BJJ career and success on and off the mats. Osssssssssssssssss
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