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Jun 27, 2017 10:38 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Hamptons Jiu Jitsu Is Open For Business In Southampton

One of the black belt instructors, Chris Visentin, teaches a young student a new move. DREW BUDD
Jun 27, 2017 1:20 PM

Not too long after becoming head instructor of the summer Brazilian jiu jitsu camp at The Ross School four years ago, Greg Melita envisioned starting his own jiu jitsu school that would serve all East End residents, young and old.

In February, his vision became a reality.

Melita, a 32-year-old Islip Terrace resident, officially opened Hamptons Jiu Jitsu on February 7 in the newly renovated shopping center at 801 County Road 39 in Southampton. On June 3, Melita, who still trains Ross School students, held a grand opening, with classes for children that morning and classes for adults in the afternoon, followed by a celebration of Melita’s new endeavor with friends and family.

“When I started working at Ross I thought there could be something here in the Hamptons and that they could use a school. There was nothing east of Hampton Bays,” Melita explained. “The kids [at Ross] really liked it and it was something that I thought could click out east and something that was only growing. The kids wanted to have more and it seemed like that’s the direction things were headed in and that’s where it should go.”

Melita, the sole owner and professor at Hamptons Jiu Jitsu, is well versed in Brazilian jiu jitsu. He has been training in the martial art for more than 10 years and received his black belt more than four years ago. After he helped train new recruits at the U.S. Marines Corps base in Garden City in hand-to-hand combat in 2004 and 2005, Melita won a bronze medal at the U.S. Open in 2007, to add to what is a long list of accolades. Melita is also a certified personal trainer, a level one CrossFit trainer, and Sports Performance coach.

Hamptons Jiu Jitsu offers classes for both children and adults, and, including Melita, has four certified black belt instructors, which is a rarity for one school to have. Hampton Bays residents Dan Curro and Ryan Saboe, along with Chris Visentin, help Melita in teaching their students.

“It’s great to have that amount of clout,” Melita said. “A lot of schools, the main owner or instructor will be the only one to have a black belt. We have four constantly training at our school.”

Melita, along with the other instructors, learned from the Kioto Brazilian jiu jitsu lineage from professor Francisco Mansor, who was passed down his knowledge from Helio Gracie, one of the founders of Brazilian jiu jitsu. The only East End Kioto school previously was in Hampton Bays, which was owned by Mansor. Since the opening of Hamptons Jiu Jitsu, the two Kioto schools have merged to become one, said Melita, a certified Kioto instructor who received his black belt from Mansor and Milton Regis. That gave him about 40 students right off the bat in February, and since then, the size of the school has more than doubled to more than 100 students, including both children and adults.

One of the adult students, Marley Doherty, started going to Hamptons Jiu Jitsu a week after its soft opening in February. The 24-year-old Water Mill resident trained in karate for almost six years when he was younger. The opening of the school close to his home is what made him finally jump back into martial arts.

“So far it’s been an awesome experience,” Doherty said. “It’s something new. Jiu jitsu is incredible. Everyone there—Greg and all of the instructors—they know their stuff. Everyone I train with is willing to lend a helping hand.”

What Doherty likes most about the school is the variety and amount of classes that it offers. Since he works most days from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Doherty was worried that he wouldn’t be able to make a lot of the classes. But the school offers an 8:30 p.m. class and he’s able to make each one.

“Most schools will offer a class around that time once or twice a week,” Doherty said. “But that class goes pretty much every day.”

With 100 students, the school is already maximizing its space. The goal for Melita is to reach 200 students, at which point the school may have to move out of its current space, but it won’t have to move too far. Two doors down to the west of the current space is another storefront that is currently unoccupied, and Melita has his eyes set on possibly moving there in the future.

“We seem to be growing. Two hundred students is the goal and that would be pretty attainable. We’re about to have our first summer, we are planning a summer camp and expect to have a ton of visitors,” he said. “The end space to the left of us would double the space that we have now.”

While jiu jitsu is the main draw for the business, it also offers yoga classes by Melita’s sister, Jacqlyn, an international certified FitYoga instructor. The school also offers judo classes by eighth-degree black belt instructor Joe Turchiano.

“Jackie leads our yoga sessions and stretches us out after class a couple times per week,” Melita said. “That’s a big addition. A lot of jiu jitsu guys are doing yoga. They benefit from it in their training.

“And no one out here offers judo classes,” he added.

For more information on classes and upcoming summer camps, go to hamptonsjiujitsu.com. Hamptons Jiu Jitsu can also be found on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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