Breakers MMA CABA (Serrano) Review — Swing and Miss
I spent a month training at Breakers MMA in CABA (Buenos Aires). In general, I met some nice people, learned a couple of things, but overall didn’t have as positive an experience as I’ve had as most gyms. Here’s an overview of my experience for any other foreigners thinking of visiting.
Breakers MMA is run by an experienced fighter, Favio Martino, who competed in the Argentinian circuit in the mid 2010s. They have a number of regional pro fighters on their roster, and a bit of a community around local competition.
But while there is regular training and an active community, I don’t think that pedagogically Breakers MMA is on the same level as most gyms I’ve attended (including the one I moved to). Aside from that, there were some other qualms I had with the school in general, which I’ll detail below.
I made the most of my time, made a couple of friends, and learned a couple of things. Here’s my review of Breakers MMA in CABA, Argentina.
Here are my latest posts on combat sports gym reviews from around the world, vocabulary for training in other languages, and other resources. If you’d like to have me visit and see your gym, please contact me — I love visiting new places and making new friends through combat sports.
- Vera Fight Club: Boxing and Jiu Jitsu at Pitbull Dojo in Buenos Aires, Argentina
- Breakers MMA CABA (Serrano) Review — Swing and Miss
- United Fight Centre Martial Arts Gym Review (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
- BJJ / MMA Words in Spanish — A Working Vocabulary
- 10th Planet Fullerton Review — Two Weeks Wasn’t Enough
Briefly about me for context — I’ve been doing martial arts (boxing / Jiu Jitsu / Muay Thai) for around two years in many different gyms around the world. I started at Sassom MMA in Australia, and the last one I was at was in Korea – Cube MMA in Seoul. I do martial arts for fun, community, and fitness, and write about the gyms (which often have limited public info) to help other travellers who are looking for a place to train.
|👍🏼 Good location in CABA|
👍🏼 Some nice people
👍🏼 Good kickboxing sparring
👍🏼 Flexible schedule with daytime practise
👍🏼 Reasonable pricing
|👎🏼 Not good grappling|
👎🏼 No fixed schedule (sometimes no class)
👎🏼 Messy equipment
👎🏼 MMA Belts / Grading
👎🏼 Fake reviews
Overview of My Experience at Breakers MMA
I initially found Breakers MMA through Google Maps. Like many temporary visitors to Buenos Aires, I stayed near the Palermo area (in Villa Crespo, to be precise). So the location on Serrano was convenient.
I thought, based on its Google Maps reviews, that Breakers MMA sounded pretty good. But even before I went, I could tell that most of the reviews were fake (generically written and universally positive). And I couldn’t find any other information about the school online. Well, a business has to do what it has to do, right? The website looked decent, the email communication was prompt, and the location was right.
I did a trial session at Breakers MMA and another one at United Fight Centre. I chose Breakers because I liked the pace of the class I attended (mostly wrestling) and I liked one of the coaches and the other two or three students in the class. The level of the coaches seemed good, especially in striking (Boxing and Kickboxing).
I should note that I only ever trained at Breakers MMA at this one location (CABA) in the daytime. In fact, this is one reason I found Breakers MMA. So I can’t comment on what it’s like at night time. Some aspects might be different (e.g. coaches), but many (e.g. the facilities) would be the same.
Breakers MMA (CABA) Facilities
The facilities at Breakers MMA are pretty simple. There are a few bags, a big padded matt, a locker room, a toilet, a ring/cage, and some simple weightlifting equipment.
The ring/cage is in good condition. The training floor is also OK, if uneven in a few places. There are only three bags, but they’re in fine condition.
Some other stuff could be improved. For example, there are no fixed pads on the walls surrounding the room… a coach puts them up sometimes (but not all the time). It never resulted in an accident though, as we usually do most grappling on the floor.
The mats smell a bit of sweat. You can smell it right when you enter the gym. This isn’t uncommon in fight gyms. But the best gyms I’ve been to disinfect after every class, and you can tell — every time I enter those ones, there’s zero smell. This includes other gyms in Buenos Aires that I’ve visited.
When a gym smells of sweat, it’s not a deal breaker, but a red flag. Unfortunately, I saw not-great hygiene standards at Breakers MMA, like people not wiping down bags and equipment, or using towels.
It gets worse though. A lot of Breakers MMA’s weightlifting equipment is in a poor state of repair. Many of the weights machines are clunky and need “tricks” to coax the weights into the right places. There are only sparse weights, and they’re usually in random places, not well organised.
I know that Argentina doesn’t have the dollar buying power to buy the latest equipment all the time, so I don’t begrudge it for that. But I didn’t see people treating the equipment with respect. In a gym with good culture, people are encouraged to wipe down equipment, use towels, and put weights back in the same place. I didn’t see these standards at Breakers MMA.
All of the coaching during the daytime was done by two individuals. I liked one of them, a young guy who’s a purple belt in jiu jitsu (I unfortunately forget his name, but I think it’s Chaca), as he gave me attention and seemed to acknowledge my existence, but not the other, one of the pros, whose name I’ll spare, who barely looked at me and beat the heck out of me whenever we sparred boxing or kickboxing (not grappling, where we were more evenly matched).
With the young guy, he generally would get us to do various drills with each other, but very rarely sparred with us. He sparred with me once in Jiu Jitsu in the whole month I was there. Ostensibly, he’s a purple belt, and did indeed seem like other purple belts I know.
With the other coach, I sparred with him twice in boxing, and once in grappling. The thing that really bugged me that was in boxing, he just went really hard, landing blow after blow on my gloves or head. Obviously, I need to learn to get out of the way or to defend myself, but is that really the best way to teach? Other coaches I’ve discussed it with don’t think so.
The last time I sparred with him, I copped so many blows to the head — after asking him to chill out — that I thought screw this, I’m not coming back again. I just think that’s unnecessary. C’mon man, I’m in my forties and obviously a beginner boxer.
The second coach also seemed generally less interested in coaching, whether it was in kickboxing, the strength/conditioning segment, or whatever else.
The Non-Schedule at Breakers MMA
There’s no schedule at Breakers MMA. I gave this the benefit of the doubt and tried it out as it did mean I couldn’t be “late”, but in general I find this quite annoying, because it means it’s entirely up to the coaches whether you do anything at all.
The way the non-schedule works is that the gym opens its doors at 10am and closes some time late in the evening. When a group forms of any kind, the coaches may organise people into some activity. But may not.
When I asked when I should show up (a few times), they said “any time”. So I did, and the first two times I went (once at 1pm and once at midday), there was nobody else there and no class of any kind conducted.
I pressed more about time and realised that if I show up around 10am, there should be a class starting roughly around 11am. I came at 10:30 am for my trial class and sure enough, around 11am we got started… with just one other student.
And the first hour was just doing a weights circuit. I don’t mind doing weights, but the circuit was a generic one that everyone was doing, without any specific goals or target weights, nor any customisation of the program, understanding of my condition or needs, and so on. Apparently, they send the weekly circuit to all members, but I never got added to that WhatsApp group.
Afte the circuit, we did some takedown drills, then some light rolling, and I learned a new skill. Based on that first day (and experience at United Fight Centre, which was much further away) I signed up.
But the lack of a schedule bugged me for the whole month I was there.
Sometimes, I’d come in the morning and for two hours of self-training there (doing some weights, calisthenics, and bag work), there’d be no instruction or any kind of sparring. Then I’d have to leave! This seemed like a huge waste of time. Maybe other people have more time than I do, but two hours for nothing is unproductive.
So in summary, I don’t really like the non-schedule.
MMA + Belts?
Another red flag for me is “belts” in MMA. Breakers MMA gives people belts, holds graduations, and people use their belts when sparring.
There is no belt system in MMA, so these belts have no value outside this gym. I’m not entirely against belt systems, as they can add a bit of structure and legitimacy to places where people can “buy” belts, but I don’t think MMA needs it, as there are high-level competitions and competitors aren’t placed with people of the same “belt”.
And frequently when they do hold a belt of another sport, like Jiu Jitsu for example, it’s barely relevant. For example, Conor McGregor was a Jiu Jitsu brown belt when he got his title.
So, MMA doesn’t need belts.
This is besides the fact that at Breakers MMA, I never saw more than a “yellow belt” in a class. What even is a yellow belt? It turns out they have their own system… nothing, then yellow, then blue, then purple, then red, then brown, then black.
Striking / Grappling
Breakers MMA is 90% a striking gym. And by striking I mean kickboxing or boxing (no elbows or knees). There was very little grappling.
I only did grappling work a few times while at Breakers MMA in the month I was there (around 20 sessions). And only in one class was there any instruction on technique. This was the main reason I left — I really enjoy grappling / Jiu Jitsu, and didn’t get to do enough of it.
The striking / boxing classes generally followed this pattern:
- Do a warm-up circuit
- Do this combo for about 10 minutes
- Now this combo
- Maybe a third one
- Now, sparring, always in 3-minute rounds.
The training was fairly intense. I’d leave every ~hour long session dripping in sweat.
Sparring at Breakers MMA is always ostensibly gentle, but it depends on the sparring partner. Sometimes, I had to ask them to calm down a bit. There were occasional sparring partners who were just jerks, who like to not do much and go all slow, but then wallop me if I come close, even if I’m just throwing soft jabs.
Language at Breakers MMA
This is Argentina, and the coaches only speak Spanish. So do most of the students. I did encounter a couple of students during my month-long stay that wanted to speak to me in English, and one of them spoke it very well / fluently (his colleagues are all Americans). But basically, you’ll have to do everything in Spanish.
If you don’t speak Spanish, then you might struggle! To help you get started, see here for my running list of martial arts vocabulary in Spanish.
I know the coaches understand some English and can no doubt communicate basic things, but you should expect all instruction to be in Spanish, which is the same as I’ve experienced in most places in Argentina.
Worst case, you can definitely follow along by watching (if you’re experienced), or find someone who can help you.
Fee for Breakers MMA
The monthly unlimited fee for Breakers MMA in CABA is 7000 ARS per month in early 2023, which at current rates is around $20 USD. It’s slightly higher at some other locations, but I don’t know. I expect this to go up with Argentina’s ~100% inflation, probably doubling every year, but the exchange rate should keep track.
You can also pay less if you want to attend less often. I don’t recall the exact numbers, but they were in the order of 3-4000 for 2-3 sessions a week, for example.
Summary of my experience at Breakers MMA
Overall, I didn’t really enjoy Breakers MMA. I liked some of the people and some coaches, and the location is great, but I didn’t really like the culture of the students (some of whom are too unhinged, despite not being very good), the lack of coaching in Jiu Jitsu / grappling, and I don’t like the smell of sweat in the CABA location.
I spent my time trying to make the most of the non-schedule and lack of grappling by watching my own instructional videos and drilling those things with any willing participants, and doing grappling sparring after any boxing class. I also tried to pick my partners in boxing a little better, but couldn’t always successfully pick the good ones.
I left after my first month, after doing a trial lesson with another local coach, Francisco Vera, who trains at a gym called Sukata brothers, a.k.a. Pitbull Dojo. I have two more months there, and will write about it when I’m done.