Dominic Lavalle and The Reflex Centre, Wollongong Australia
I am making this thread to discuss my experience with the Dominic Lavalle and his martial arts training centre in Wollongong, Australia called The Reflex Centre. I will break this post up into two main sections. The first section will deal with Dominic Lavalle, his BJJ qualifications and the way in which he promotes his level of grappling on his website. The second section will deal with my own personal experience training at the Reflex Centre. For the record, I do not train at the Reflex Centre anymore, I do not train with any of his competitors and I actually live in a different country now and have no financial or emotional interest in being impartial or hurting this mans reputation unnecessarily. I believe Dominic is a talented striker and has proven himself many times in Doce Pares (mostly stick fighting) and has videos on youtube of his kickboxing fights which I think adds transparency and accountability. But I have many issues with how he implies his BJJ rank.
My background is in Judo and I spent some time trying various other gyms in the Wollongong/Sydney area for the reasons of crosstraining and fitness and unfortunately the Reflex Centre has caused me the most amount of confusion.
Section 1. Dominic Lavalle and his qualifications.
What I have a problem with and what I believe detracts from his transparency is the way in which he and his grappling credentials are marketed. When I trained there three years ago, Dominic was a BJJ blue belt by his own ommission and I saw him personally in his gi with his blue belt, teaching classes. If you look at the archive versions of his website, the 2008 version he lists himself as a '1st dan black belt in ju jutsu'. He doesn't specify BJJ, just jujitsu. The problem with this is that he is teaching a BJJ class when his jiu jitsu experience seems to be another variety, possibly JJJ. Sneaky, but not technically lying. Enough to fool people looking at the website and a shady business technique. This isn't damning evidence by any means but in my opinion this is enough to give me pause.
Moving forward to the 2012 version of his profile, the 'ju jutsu' listing has dissapeared but now there is a '1st Dan Black belt in Combat Jiu Jitsu' listing. Still, nothing to talk about BJJ rank and not technically lying, but certainly a bit weird. Why doesn't he mention his BJJ Blue belt? BJJ is obviously one of the most technical sports in the world, hence the high price for quality instruction. It annoys me to know that he charges as much as a real school but doesn't provide the same level of instruction.
Cut to today and the website now states that he is a brown belt with the WBJJA while the pictures on the website show him teaching a grappling class while wearing a black belt.*
Why can't I find any mention of his competition results on google? Why isn't his brown belt at the top of his listings with the rest of his belts? A brown belt in BJJ is far more prestigeous than any of the other belts he mentions and should be the very first things in that list. It sends a strange message, like he is not truly wanting it to be scrutinized.
*I expect his excuse for teaching a grappling class with him in a black belt would be his 'black belt in combat jiu jitsu' but unfortunately, the class that he is promoting with these pictures is the BJJ class, not a combat jiu jitsu class. In my opinion this is very misleading and a very poor business practice.
2014/2015 BJJ Class picture:
Also he now displays the logo of the WBJJA. As many of you may know, The WBJJA affiliates with gyms and basically allows ranks to be bought. Instructors are taught via distance education and there have been threads and investigations on this place before. Basically, it adds credence where there is none. If Dominic had real credentials, being affiliated with the WBJJA would actually detract from him and his business. This is a huge red flag for me.
The WBJJA logo that is displayed on the website:
Thread about WBJJA here:
Another sneaky thing I found is that if you look at the page with the supporting BJJ instructors, you will see the two BJJ blue belts in their gi with Dominic standing in the middle wearing a black belt. I find it quite annoying at all the implications that he has made on the website and this is just another example.
Section 2: My own personal experience with training at The Reflex Centre.
First, allow me to state that in my opinion, the Reflex Centre is a clean and safe environment. The equipment is nice, the building is well maintained and a lot of thought has gone into the layout. If I had to guess, I would say that a very substantial amount of time and money has gone into the business, equipment and location.
At the time, I paid just over $300 AUD for unlimited classes on a 3 month contract and I attended boxing and kick boxing classes as I was training grappling elsewhere. Dominic himself lead most of the classes but occasionally he would get one of his more experienced students to run the class.
Before class, the more experienced kick/boxers would wrap their hands in preparation for the class, but no help was offered to the beginners (or myself) on how to do that, so we would simply wear the gloves during boxing exercises. While not a deal breaker as that is mostly my responsiblity to learn how to do that, I think it would be great if they had a small orientation where they showed the new students how to wrap their hands as that would decrease hand injuries. This is not a major gripe but I do mention it as I think care should be taken with beginner safety.
My main issue with the class was a total lack of technique instruction. Most of the time, the class would have over 25 students. As a warmup, we would line up in approx 6 rows and we would shadow box various punches for about 10 minutes. For me, and many others that I was watching, this was a bit of a waste of time as I had no previous boxing experience so it got the blood flowing but we were mostly learning bad habits.
This is the most important sentence in this whole post: in the three months that I trained there, I didn't receive any technical instruction whatsoever. Not a single time during any class as Dom walked around watching everyone shadow box or hit the heavy bag or kick pads did he ever stop me or correct me or provide any feedback whatsoever. Boxing and kick boxing is very technical and the nuances are almost impossible to learn without intelligent instruction. I must say I definitely did not improve my striking at all while at the Reflex Centre. Another thing to note is that he never spoke about footwork a single time. I never received any instruction on how to move my feet. I never received any correction on my so-very-obviously-subpar footwork. The instructors in the classes that I had attended never mentioned footwork a single time. It was very surprising to me and very soon after my first class, I knew this was below average training and I resigned to using the classes as fitness classes, essentially wasting my $300 (which I had prepaid by the way). I sincerly hope that Dominic has changed his ways since my experience there but I can honestly say the training was no better than cardio circuits. No live sparring either.
My final thoughts are that while I have not put forward anything that shows extreme malice or direct lying to the public, I believe that there have been many instances of Dominic implying his rank is higher than what it is and I also believe that I have been scammed $300 for the pathetic striking training.
I'd love to hear from someone who currently trains there.
I'm curious...you gave Weapon Instruction a 10 but didn't mention it. Can you elaborate?
Dominic is very well accomplished in stick fighting and has legitimately travelled and trained and competed with the best. His claims in that area are very legitimate.
Haha wow, 25 failed attempts to log in to my account from various Australian IP addresses. Guess some Aussies didn't appreciate my review.
If you want to chime in, please feel free to register an account and make a post.
For reference I have contacted Luke Pezzutti and he has confirmed that Dominic has been graded to a brown belt in BJJ.
Hi, I noticed that on the reflexcentre.com.au website that Dominic lists you as his BJJ trainer. I trained there a few years ago and he was a blue belt, but now the picture on the site shows him in a BJJ class with a black belt. Can you confirm that he has attained his black belt in BJJ? Thanks for your time. Regards, Desmond.
Luke is super legit too btw.
Yes Dominic is training with me and has become part of the Lion's Den association. He Was graded recently to Brown Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
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