RiSE veteran, Rey De Leon is a Jiu-Jitsu brown belt under the legendary Eddie Bravo and recently opened up his own gym, 10th Planet NYC in the heart of Manhattan. Tara Wolf on behalf of New York Fighting, recently spoke with him about owning a gym during the COVID-19 Lockdown, how he prepares for competition and what it is like teaching and training in New York City.
TARA: How long have you been training with Eddie Bravo and 10th Planet?
REY: I’ve been training with Eddie for approximately 10 years. It’s amazing. I met Eddie when I was 16 and then started training with him at 17.
TARA: OK, cool. And you were with him from white belt, right?
REY: Yes. I never started jiu-jitsu at any other gym but Eddie’s. I started out wanting to do MMA, so I ended up in the gym called Legends. And then from Legends, the coach was like, you got to do jiu-jitsu if you want to get MMA matches. The Jiu-Jitsu coaches at Legends recommended Eddie, I didn’t know who Eddie was. I landed at the right place for me.
TARA: Every gym has its own vibe and its own way of doing things and to land at the right place for you from the beginning. That is fantastic.
TARA: So, Rey how are you doing during the whole COVID-19 lockdown? Are you able to train?
REY: So In the beginning, no, because we didn’t know what was going on with the mandatory lockdown. Cece, my girlfriend, who also has competed at Rise we run the gym together, live together like 5 minutes away so now we train together like 3x per week.
TARA: What else do you do to keep in shape?
REY: We go for runs and strength and conditioning.
TARA: How are you working with your students during the lockdown?
REY: We keep in touch with them. It’s been going pretty well. Leave a message for each other on Instagram and just for trying to keep track with everybody on a daily basis. We give them match breakdowns. Most of them will have partners at home. Solo drills for ones that don’t have partners. They message me “What do you think of this? Can I do this? How do you do this?” I just tell them. I always tell them whatever you guys need. I’m here to help you guys out.
TARA: So who did the graffiti 10th Planet logo on the wall? Looks sweet.
REY: It’s by one of our students. He actually got the lettering from Vogue; a noted graffiti artist from Oakland. So he got the lettering from him and then he just did it himself with spray cans. So that’s pretty cool.
TARA: Bringing a little taste of Cali to New York.
TARA: So how was that transition from Cali to New York?
REY: It was a bit, I would say challenging. Because it took like 2 years for Cece and I to find the right location. We would come to NY to compete at Rise, Pan Ams and then look at spaces. Sometimes they looked good on paper but not in person.
TARA: So how do you find New Yorkers in general? Do you find them any different than the people that you train with in California?
REY: I love training with New Yorkers. New Yorkers, they’re like truthful, they’re raw and honest. They know what they want. In California, it’s more chill laid-back and that’s cool too but sometimes you gotta be straight forward.
REY: So that’s what’s cool about the students. I’m not talking shit on the California guys. But, you know, the New Yorkers, I say they probably want it more and they’re more hungry and they come here to the gym and they’re not going to mess around. Let’s go hard. And I like it. That’s the New York style.
TARA: So how have you been preparing for competition while running your gym?
REY: I’ll be honest. I’m still figuring it out. My students have to help me. Yeah. So I have to help them, help me. So whenever I train, drill or roll with someone I go to the point or level that they are good at. So let’s say someone is good at leg locks I am going to roll with him pure leg locks. If someone is good at guard passing I am going to do just pure guard passing with him. I specifically pick apart their training to help me. That’s the way I’ve been doing it until I figure out a system on how to get my training and teach and be an instructor and also be a student all at the same time.
TARA: Is there a coach that you’re working with in New York to help prepare you?
REY: Cece, the students and 2 guys from 10th Planet Bethlehem Rene and Tom who also have competed at Rise. Once in a blue moon, we go to another gym to take the class, like we go to Marcelo’s or Essential or whatever.
That’s what’s cool about New York as well. They’re chill about visiting gyms. They just want everybody to get better. We are more than welcome here and I am more than happy to train with anybody. I just want to train. For me, it’s all about jiu-jitsu.
TARA: When you are developing a game plan is this something that you confer with Eddie with on or you say or you of kind of developing your own way right now?
REY: I would say I am developing my own way and whenever I need help I just talk to Eddie. That’s what is cool about Eddie; he gives us our own path. He is like you are off on your own but if you need help I am here for you.
TARA: Any guys you would like to match up with that you think would be exciting?
REY: I just want to go against the best. I want to go against the best in my weight. And if I go against all of them and let’s say I retired for some reason, I stopped competing. I’ll be happy.
TARA: So, important question, what do you think of New York pizza?
REY: Oh, man, it’s the best.
Rey De Leon’s Gym 10th Planet NYC is located at 31 W 46th St 4th floor, New York, NY 10036