New Breed Jiu-Jitsu – Chicago Gym Review (4/5/11)


New Breed BJJ
5647 W Howard
Niles, IL 60077

(847) 674-3577


I stole this picture from one of Mark’s students because I feel that it perfectly captures Mark’s personality (he’s hilarious).

Mark Vives – BJJ Black Belt (Johnny Ramirez – New Breed), American National Champion, Pan-Am Silver and Bronze Medalist, 4x NAGA Champion (this is the short list.. Mark competes a lot)


New Breed BJJ is located in the second row of building off of West Howard.  Despite Mark’s repeated attempts to properly place the tag on Google maps, it keeps placing them right on Howard instead of back in the industrial park.

Upon entering, you’ll likely be greeted by a smiling face at the front desk (I was).  There’s also a very nice waiting room for parents and others where Mark showcases his and his students’ achievements (as well as some really comfy couches).

After a short hallway where you can leave your shoes (the gym’s main office is there as well), you’ll enter the main training facility.

New Breed BJJ not only includes heavy bags and mat space with 3 competition sized rings, but strength and conditioning equipment as well.  They have an airdyne bike, fat bars, a squat rack, LOTS of kettlebells, battling ropes, chinup stands, and many other items.

 Including a prison-style incline bench for when Bob”alu” wants to get ready for the streets.  In case you can’t tell.  Lots of fun will be had at New Breed.

My experience:

Let me start by saying that Mark is one of the most accomodating people I’ve ever met.

Seriously.  I mean it.

My schedule is insanely hectic and trying to visit a gym on a weeknight is difficult at times.  Mark and I exchanged over 20 (yes, twenty) e-mails back and forth trying to figure out the best time for me to come.  In fact, Mark probably won’t get why I’m even taking the time to write this.  He’s so opening to sharing BJJ with everybody that he’d probably open his doors to any person on any given day.  No questions asked.

Mark put me in touch with some other guys from the gym who come from the same direction as me to get more details about traffic and such and I still ended up getting there late (I have no affection for Chicago traffic).

Class had already started when I arrived and I first met Sam Spiegelman.  Sam is a purple belt like me and he is an assistant instructor for the kids classes and also runs the Strength and Conditioning training at New Breed (just thinking about it makes me a bit queasy, but we’ll get to that later).  Sam was really nice and introduced me to a few people including Mark, who was already teaching class.

Class ran in the following manner:

  1. standup drills
  2. warmup drills
  3. movement / positional drill
  4. technique
  5. king of the hill positional sparring
  6. open sparring

Class began with basic takedown drills and then went into what many gyms use as warmups.  These includes inversion rolls, front rolls, back rolls, snake/shrimp, etc.

Next, class continued with a basic movement drill.  For class today, we practiced spinning to an opponent’s back when they turn in to face you from bottom side control.

Mark taught a really excellent armbar from the back that I never would have thought of in a million years.  It would take a great deal of time to type all of the details here, but it involved doing  a few different grips from back mount that I had never tried before and I’ve since used the armbar every time I take the back and so far I am batting 1.000 with the technique.  Truly excellent instruction.

Next Mark went over some escape concepts from the back.  Luckily, I was paired with a blue belt named Carlo who was a lot of fun to drill with.  In addition to Carlo, I was really surprised by how many people came up and introduced themselves to me.  It was an exceptionally friendly training environment.

I had a great time rolling during the positional sparring.  In the open sparring, I was paired with Nick, Vince, Bob, and then Mark.  Rolling with all of these guys was an eye opening experience.  With all of the fun I was having, I forgot how good New Breed is.  Nick is very good for a blue belt and Bob and Vince are exceptional purple belts.

Having the opportunity to roll with Mark was really fantastic.  In some academies, being able to roll with the instructor is a rare and privileged opportunity, but this is not the case at New Breed.  Mark will roll with anybody and everybody.

You better be in shape when you roll with Mark and the higher belts, and if you aren’t, keep training with them.. you will be soon.

Mark let me leave the mat early to get ready for Sam’s Strength and Conditioning class.  Depending on the day, the class focuses on strength, plyometrics, or conditioning.  Today was a circuit-style workout that involved 10 stations that we rotated to every 30 seconds.  Now any idiot can throw together a bunch of really hard exercises in a row and trick people into thinking they’re getting a real workout.  This is definitely not the case here.  Sam has a background in training and exercise science and it was evident with properly sequenced exercises and proper intensity.

I’m the strength & conditioning coach at the school I teach at and I can small a fraud trainer from a mile away.  Sam is definitely legit.

If I was smart, I would’ve taken pictures of what we did, but I was so exhausted and having such a blast that I thought about stopping to take pictures and immediately dismissed the idea.  I hope that the next time I visit, I’ll get more pictures and videos!

After I finished heaving, Mark asked me if I have any questions to feel free to ask.  Over the next hour, Mark, Sam and I sat in the front office and talked about everything under the sun.  It was a blast and wish I had proper video and audio recording devices.  A basic rundown of what we talked about was:

  • How Mark got his start and how he got to where he is today
  • Their visit to Lloyd Irvin’s gym in D.C.
  • How he hooked up with the BJJ Revolution team
  • How awesome Rodrigo Medeiros’ BJJ Revolution gym in San Diego is
  • How long it took New Breed to become profitable
  • His ideas about spreading BJJ
  • His beliefs about competition
  • BJJ in the midwest
  • After school BJJ programs for kids

After we talked and shared a few coconut waters, we went back out to the main training floor and went over even more questions that I had about inverting and de la riva guard (my recent obsession) until my quad proceeded to cramp up.

All in all, I ended up staying at New Breed until roughly 11:30pm.  I didn’t even realize that the time had passed that much.  New Breed has classes running almost all day long so no matter what your schedule is, people are always training.  You can try to train for 5 hours straight like I did.  Hopefully, you’ll make it past the first 2 (which I didn’t).

I knew it was time to go home at this point…

If you live anywhere near Niles, IL, I would definitely recommend checking out New Breed because of the:

  • Top quality instruction
  • Family environment
  • Lots of different training times
  • Clean Facility
  • All-inclusive training facility (bjj/muay thai / strength & cond.)
  • Hilarious misadventures
  • Flexing and talking about how strong we are

Thanks again to Mark, Vince, Nick, Carlo, Bob, Sam, Squirrel and all of the guys and girls at New Breed!

All videos and photos stolen from courtesy of Mark (especially the time lapse ones at the end), Sam, Nick, Naledge, and New Breed BJJ.

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8 Responses to New Breed Jiu-Jitsu – Chicago Gym Review (4/5/11)

  1. Allen says:

    Nice review! I’ve been wanting to check out New Breed for sometime now. I noticed that the schedule posted says that Open Mat is available Free to experienced non-members. Would you by any chance know if that means Blue and higher?

    I’ve competed against some of the guys there, it’s been a while but they’re super technical and a lot of them seem to be about my size (5′ 5″ 135 lbs). My boy Mo lost to one of their dudes in the finals for White Belt at US Grappling and was immediately promoted to Blue Belt. It was pretty cool to see.

    • bjjinchicago says:

      I just think that it means that if you want to participate in the open mat, you have to be able to be safe in regards to yourself and others. I honestly doubt that Mark would ever want people to not come to the open mat for any reason.

    • Mark Vives says:

      Allen –

      That does not mean Blue or Higher. Anyone can show up regardless of rank. The best way to put it would be this —

      We want everyone who steps into our doors to enjoy their training, learn something, have a good time, and make sure that everyone leaves injury free. Since “open mat” is an informal “class,” our instructors, coaches, and myself can’t be everywhere at the same time to make sure that less experienced participants at open mat aren’t doing anything that would or could potentially harm themselves or others. This is why we highly suggest that people who come into open mat have some experience.

      If for some reason you have limited experience, please let us know. Everyone is different and we are willing to work with anyone and everyone.

      Feel free to email me or call us at (847) 674-3577

  2. Mark Vives says:

    No problem, Allen. See you soon!

  3. Hywel says:

    I really like that you included a copy of the training schedule with this review. Any chance you could do that for your other reviews? I find it very interesting how weekly training schedules are organised.

    Great reviews though, all these schools look impressive.

    • bjjinchicago says:

      I absolutely will. Thanks for the input!!! This is what I’m talking about! Tell me what you want to see and let’s make this thing the best it can be!

      All of these schools look impressive because they all are. Honestly.

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