Best Kept Secret (in Brazilian Jiujitsu) On Long Island


Best Kept Secret (in Brazilian Jiujitsu) On Long Island

By George Demetriou


Tucked in the corner of a small, non-descript shopping center on Brentwood Road in Bayshore, NY, one can find the D'Arce Martial Arts Center(D'Arce Jiujitsu) .  The school, much like the BJJ instructor who teaches there, doesn't attract much attention, but it's outstanding.  There's no flashy sign on the building, no significant sign on the road to attract the motorist's attention and no advertising.  All members are there by word of mouth.

We had the opportunity to interview the school's BJJ instructor, Joe D'Arce.  Interviewing Joe was no easy task.  D'Arce is immensely talented both as a practitioner and an instructor of BJJ, but he doesn't speak just to hear himself and he doesn't speak without purpose.  He's not very keen on speaking about himself.

Joe D'Arce…equally great at instructing people or deconstructing people.  (Author's quote–Joe would never say such a thing!)


Joe's competition record is spectacular, but when I asked him about it he didn't elaborate beyond his amount of wins and losses.  When I asked him if he has defeated anyone that is, or was, well known he refused to answer the question.  We did come to learn about some, but that was through pure investigative work.  We learned Joe has beaten top rated Rafael Lovato Jr. (Grapplers Quest-Beast of the East-No Gi, 2005) and Murilo Santana.  We also learned that D'Arce's guard has never been passed in competition, a feat extraordinary in itself.  Joe even has a choke named after him!


Besides competition, the way to determine the talent of a BJJ instructor is to look at the people who train under him.  How good are the instructors under the main instructor?  How good are the competitors from the school?  How good are the practitioners when working with each other, a lower ranked student or a new member?

D'Arce has three brown belts students with their own schools, Chris and Alex Vamos (Vamos Jiujitsu) in Holbrook and Greg Depasquale (Vertex Jiujitsu) in Riverhead.  Extremely talented as competitors and instructors.  The talent runs deep at every rank in D'Arce's as well.  People of from all walks of life train together and the more experienced are always looking to help those less experienced improve.  The attitude of every member that we've trained with at D'Arce's has been exceptionally positive.  There's good espirit de corps and sense of "community" at D'Arce's.  All a reflection of Joe D'Arce.

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Joe, how long have you been teaching?
I've been teaching since 2000.
How did you start to train in BJJ? 
I just stumbled upon it in 1997 and became hooked instantly 

How often did you train at Renzo Gracie's from white belt to black belt?

I traveled to NYC to train at Renzo's academy 2 to 3 times a week. I took the Long Island Rail Road so it was about a two and half hour commute round trip.  I think the train ride helped me visualize what techniques I wanted to work on once I arrived at the academy.  When I was in High School I would do my homework on the train.  [Author's noteJoe was 16 years old when he started training.]
What is your bjj/grappling competition record?
I stopped counting  a few years ago but I have competed in over 100 grappling matches. I would estimate my record to be about 90 wins and about 15 loses give or take.  When I was between the age of 18 and 22 I competed every few months or so. 

What events have you won?

I won the Pan Americans twice, once in 2000 and again in 2002.
I took second in the Mundials in Brazil in 2000. I also won numerous local grappling events as well as numerous grappling superfights in NAGA and Grappler's Quest.
What is your mixed martial arts record and what events did you fight in?
My MMA record is 1-1.  Both fights were in Japan in Pancrase.  [Author's note: D'Arce fought professionally in Japan without ever having an amateur MMA fight.]

Who did you defeat and who do you have a loss to?
I lost to Kazuo Misaki  and I won my fight against Hiromitsu Miura.  Both were very tough fights. Some people fight warm up fights to get their feet wet in MMA but I jumped right in to the fire pit when I fought Misaki in my first fight. Not to mention I flew to Japan by myself at 22 yrs old for that fight, luckily Rodrigo Gracie came to corner me a day before the fight.  [Author's note:  Kazuo Misaki went on to fight in PRIDE and become one of the best middleweights in MMA history-he beat Dan Henderson twice!  Hiromitsu Miura fights for the World Extreme Cage (WEC) Fighting organization.]


What's your opinion of competition at this point of life?
My time is split in many directions at the moment between my law enforcement career, raising my 1 year old daughter and of course teaching at my BJJ academy so I don't see myself competing any time soon. I have competed so much in the past decade that right now I'm just enjoying teaching and training for fun. I have competed in many gi and no gi competitions as well as MMA and kickboxing matches. Since I've been doing BJJ for so long I enjoy kickboxing in my free time.
What other martial arts have you trained in?
When I was young I trained in Tae kwon Do with my father, he runs a TKD school. Besides that I started training in kickboxing in 2002 at the Bellmore Kickboxing Academy. The coaches down there are great. 
Do you feel BJJ is beneficial for police officers to train in?  Why or why not? 
Absolutley!  I teach many Police Officers and Correction Officers. Most fights end up in a clinch, in police work it's no different.  Knowing what to do on the ground is very important. Not to mention training BJJ will give you the tools to be on top in the fight, whether it be from a take down or a reveresal from the bottom.  Some people think BJJ fighters just jump to guard in a fight but that's wrong.  Just like anyone else I want to be on top in a fight where gravity is on my side, striking down where my punches are stronger.  If you do end up on your back BJJ will teach you to work the guard position, where you can still be offensive and defend yourself from the bottom.
I remember I was in a store one day and a former student stopped and thanked me for teaching him for the few months that he attended my classes.  He is a police officer and he told me how he was involved in a fight while on duty and he knew enough to mount the person and control the top position being effective with strikes while waiting for back up to arrive.  He said his portable radio was out of reach so the fight lasted a few minutes. The bottom line is some people are not going to be compliant with the police.  Some people have nothing to lose, and its important to know what to do when they decide to assault you.
Which BJJ competitors and MMA fighters do you like/respect?
Well I respect everyone who fights profesionally.  It's a very demanding sport that requires discipline and hard work. There are so many aspects of MMA– you have to train striking, wrestling, and submissions. Its a tough lifestyle and I believe many fighters are under paid. 

How did you come to popularize the "Darce Choke"?

Its one of my favorite techniques that I use from many positions.  It became known as the "Darce Choke" because of training sessions I had with Jason "Mayhem" Miller. He really liked the move and brought it the west coast and showed it to Marc Laimon.  Marc started calling it the "Darce" and  it spread like crazy on the west coast. 

What are you most proud of regarding your training/competing and/or instructing?

I put many hours on the mats, lots of sweat and blood in training so I am proud of my accomplishments.  Most of all I'm proud of my students.  It's a great feeling when I see my students improving and advance through the ranks. In many ways it's more of an accomplishment than winning any tournament.
Is there anything you would like to add?
Yes, when looking for a school make sure you do research on the school and the instructor.  There are many good places to train.  You owe it to yourself to get the best possible instruction out there.  Be cautious of the "Mcdojos" that claim to teach BJJ or instructors who claim to be a qualified grappling coach. The popularity of MMA produced many fraudulent instructors who are looking to make a quick dime.
Thanks Joe!

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