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Guest Editorials

Southern California Pro-Am DVD
Review by Charles Story
(May 2004)

Check out the So-Cal Pro-Am Invitational DVD at grappletv.com. The event took place on May 24,2003 The following fighters were in the tournament: Cassio Werneck, Jeff Newton, Rener Gracie, Joe Stevenson, Mario Flores, Sean Spangler, Jason Miller, Kenny Bond, Gerald Strebendt, Drew Fickett, Andy Wang, Joe Camacho, Tyrone Glover, Dennis Asche, Paulo Guillobel and Anthony Tolon. The three alternates were Jimmy Smith, Taka and Jamie Walsh. The Superfight was between Ryron Gracie vs. Todd Margolis.

Warning: If you like stalling; You came to the wrong place!

The DVD starts with great menus and quality. Multiple angles are shot for the best viewing possible. The 2 dvd set features the tournament, interviews, and a special featurette. There are over 4 hours of non-stop action and submissions. Near the beggining you can watch a few great techniques before the matches start. I feel like this is one of the best filmed and produced DVD's on the market.

The matches were all action and no stalling. Awesome takedowns, reversals, mounts (dont miss the one Jason Miller does on Sean Spangler), submissions. Gi vs. no gi, everything is covered. Top names in the audience cheering on their teammates and friends, Todd Margolis singing the National Anthem, what else could you ask for? Nothing! This DVD set has it all. Hats off to Karlinhos and to all whom contributed to a top notch production. Please check out this DVD set at GrappleTV.com, you will not be dissappointed.

Mr. Story is the owner/webmaster of TudoBemBJJ.com

"Mastering Jujitsu"
By Renzo Gracie & John Danaher

Review by lincoln "el tarantula" smith
(August 2003)

This book really sets itself apart from previously released titles. Unlike the "Theory & Technique" book co-authored with Royler and Kid Peligro, this title isn't so much a syllabus of moves and counter-moves appropriated to a certain level of expertise. "Mastering Jujitsu" concerns itself more with strategy rather than theory and tactics as opposed to technique.

Renzo addresses the anatomy of the overall fight, breaking it down into 3 phases: 1.) Free-Movement - when both fighters are on their feet with no grip, free to move and strike swiftly with little hindrance from the other. 2.) Standing Clinch - When one or both fighters secure a firm grip on their opponent. 3.) Ground Combat - where both fighters are supine and from where positions may be established or countered, eventually concluding in an effectively applied submission.

Each of these phases is a chapter unto itself. For the Free Range phase, Renzo discusses stance, motion, range & distance, position & angle, punching with a jab, cross, hook and uppercut as well as kicking, knees, evasion and blocking, shooting-in for takedowns and defending against them. Be stoked. That's just one chapter.

The next chapter addresses the clinch: uses, approaches and skills for various clinches. Takedowns, both linear and circular. Submissions, and strikes that may be applied, as well as escapes from various clinch positions.

Moving onto the ground, Renzo talks about transitionining from standing to the ground. He reviews fundamental ground positions and goes over their hierarchy of dominance. This chapter is brief, but essential.

The next chapter addresses "Winning From the Bottom Position". The guard is discussed here in terms of neutrality, defense, and attacks from both opened and closed guard. Escapes from various bottom positions come next and conclude with some drills to address this aspect of your game.

The following chapter flips us over and discusses "Winning from the Top Position." Again, strategy and the transition from standing are assessed before going into effective guard-passing, as well as methods of negotiating your opponent in the turtle position, side-control, mount and rear-mount before concluding with more drills.

Next, Renzo discusses "Training & Competition", where he talks about conditioning, endurance, cross training and injuries, as well as the different types of competitions from sport Jiu-Jitsu to submission grappling to Vale Tudo.

Finally, we are given a rather formidable and informative chapter on self-defense. The entire aspect of the "street fight" is dissected from the six motivations for their occurrance, different ways fights may start, and the most common way one may be attacked by an assailant, and formidable approaches to surviving the attack.

This is really a superb book and I'm really impressed in that Renzo explains things from a perspective that is less "Jiu-Jitsu-centric" than one might initially presume. Renzo constantly refers to the styles and strategies of various fighters as an example of how a particular tactic may be implemented effectively. Jose "Pele" Landi is mentioned for his ability to deploy effective knee strikes from unlikely ranges and angles. Bas Rutten is cited for his ability to land powerful kicks. Chuck Lidell is remarked upon for his ability to defend take-downs. Other examples include Randy Couture, Pedro Rizzo and Vanderlei Silva.

Though this book would certainly benefit any fighter at any level, I think it is best suited for the intermediate and advanced student, someone who already possesses a firm grasp of the basic positions both on the ground and from standing and is now seeking to piece it all together into an overall "game-plan." The one who wins tends to be the one with the best strategy. This is as relevent to self-defense as it is to competition. This book is a complete package and provides a comprehensive representation of what ANY fighter, regardless of style, will need, to achieve "completeness" in a manner that is simple and easy to grasp. Trust me, you'll get more than your money's worth.

"Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu - Details and Techniques, Vol. I - Passing the Guard"
by Ed Beneville and Tim Cartmell

Review by lincoln "el tarantula" smith
(March 2003)

The problem with most books that have been released in the last couple of years concerning themselves with the subject of BJJ is that they strive to address EVERY aspect of the art in equal proportion. Since the art has proven to be so inexhaustibly vast, the authors of past titles have chosen to provide a very general overview of BJJ's totality as opposed to going into any great detail about the nuances and technical minutae of the game.

"Passing the Guard" is the first book I have seen yet to contradict this trend. And the subject of the book's focus, as the title would suggest, is the perfect place for such intense analysis. The guard is THE most versatile position in BJJ. From the guard, a well-informed fighter can attack, defend, submit, neutralize and initiate reversals. Inversely, if a well-informed fighter should find himself in another fighter's guard, he can do likewise, provided that he is able to achieve a successful pass. So the guard may very well be considered the main junction upon which all other aspects of BJJ congress.

The authors have also devised a format using a symbol system that is easy to understand and follow rather than a numeric sequence accompanied by text. (There is text explanations provided, but its function and purpose are more to buttress the photo sequences rather than visa-versa.) This enables the photographs (all 1,400 of them) to speak for themselves. Many of the sequences are shot from alternate angles so that no detail go unnoticed.

CHAPTER I: Fundamentals
This chapter is not long, but it does cover the basics very well. It addresses posture, hand placement, grips, breaking open the closed guard, tangled arms and ranges within the guard. No matter how advanced you may be, it never hurts to review and polish the basics since they mean the difference between a successful pass as opposed to total crap.

CHAPTER II: Passing From the Knees
This starts the reader off on very simple passes (stacking passes, over-the-knee passes, etc.) to more advanced techniques (double underhook passes, scissor passes, counters, submissions to conclude, etc.) all of which are executed from the kneeling position. DUH!

CHAPTER III: Standing Passes
Again, this chapter begins with the simple stuff. (Which, by the way, you should not take to mean, "ineffective.") (standing-up in the guard, how to counter an ankle sweep, preventing your opponent from "turtling," etc.) This chapter really shows how to negotiate an opponent with a really aggressive open guard and starts to get very acrobatic!

CHAPTER IV: Defenses & Counters
This chapter shows how to counter all those pesky-ass submissions that your opponent can put on you from his guard: guillotine, cross choke, leg-chokes, armbars, more armbars, omo plata, bicep slicers, triangles, kimura, sweeps, etc. All those times you got tapped from guard and racked your brain asking yourself, "What could I have done?!" That's this chapter in a nutshell. Learn it. Know it. Live it.

CHAPTER V: Half Guard
Thanks to guys like "Gordo," the half guard has gone from the runt of the guard family to a highly effective position from which a fighter can apply various sweeps and attacks as well as defend. Several good passes are detailed here with a couple submissions thrown in for good measure.

This chapter demonstrates attacks you can apply on your opponent while remaining inside his guard: Ezekial, neck cranks, ankle locks, knee bars, etc. Hey! Why pass when you can end it right there?

CHAPTER VII: Turtle Position
Though not a direct blood-relative of the guard, the "turtle" is a position to which many opponents will resort in order to neutralize a successful guard pass. When this happens, your opponent not only exposes his back, but makes himself susceptible to numerous clock-choke and crucifix variations, armlocks and neck cranks; many of which are detailed in this chapter. In my mind, this is really the gem of the whole book because 9 times out of 10 I get throttled whenever I resort to turtle position and yet, whenever an opponent turtles-up on me, I often find myself waiting for them to switch to a position with which I am more comfortable. I was really surprised at how much cool stuff was contained within this particular chapter.

This chapter shows numerous drills exercising the muscles one uses when executing the techniques detailed in the book. Most of them are solo drills with a couple of partner drills as well. All good stuff to know.

In conclusion, Beneville and Cartmell have provided for the jiu-jitsu community what it was sorely missing, (Besides international recognition qualifying the sport for inclusion into the Olympic games): a comprehensive, readable, easily understood text that gives a thoroughly detailed analysis of one of BJJ's core aspects. What Mario Sperry did for the medium of instructional video, this book does for the medium of the illustrated manual Any fighter, regardless of skill level would benefit greatly from reading it. I would not, however, contend that this book is the first and last word on the subject. Some of my favorite passes didn't make it into this book. But then again, the day the entire lexicon of jiu-jitsu techniques can be inventoried and catalogued within the confines of a book is the day jiu-jitsu ceases to grow, morph and evolve. And should that day come, we're better off shelving it with the other artifacts of history. Besides, the book's usefulness is not in recycling information to which I was already privy, but in exposing me to those possibilities of which I was unaware. So it suffices to say that this book is not "definitive," but it IS the closest thing we have and clearly creates a precedent that will prove difficult to surpass. The fact that this is only Volume I and the book ends with a "To be continued..." would infer that this book is the first in a series of others to follow which should give us all something to look forward to with much anxiousness and anticipation.

"The Gracie Way - An Illustrated History of the World's Greatest Martial Arts Family"
by Kid Peligro

Review by lincoln "el tarantula" smith
(May 2003)

This book concerns itself less with technique and application of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and focuses on the history, legacy and values of the art's progenitors: the legendary Gracie family.

The book recounts the stories of the ten most significant members from the family - Carlos, Helio, Carlson, Rolls, Rorion, Carlos Jr., Rickson, Royler, Royce and Renzo. We learn about Carlos' dessimenation of the art to his brothers, about Helio's ingenius refinements and emphasis on leverage, about the challenge matches fought, about Carlos' fascination with nutrition, the efficiency with which the first academy functioned; continuing on with Carlson taking up the torch in defending the family name in challenge matches to refining how Jiu-jitsu is taught, to Rolls' development of the opened guard and other advancemnets he brought about by investigating Judo, Wrestling and Sambo to his street scuffles with multiple luta livre fighters. Rorion's determination to introduce his family's art to the world follows him through coming to the states, building a foundation from the ground up, teaching out of his garage, and ultimately having the entrepeneurial savvy to produce America's premiere No-holds-barred event: The UFC. We learn about how Gracie Barra came into being with Carlinhos at the helm and his desire to see the sport gain more legitimacy and respect through the forming of the Confederacao Brasilerio de Jiu-jitsu. One gets to read about Rickson's domination of the sport at an early age, his exploits in Vale Tudo and the unlucky group of Japanese promoters who decided to invade his Pico Blvd. Academy. We go on to learn about Royler's arduous training schedule and total technical prowess that earned him multiple titles against such rivals as Soca and Leozino. We revisit the days when Royce demonstrated the efficiency of his family's art by dominating bigger, stronger opponents in the first UFC's and we become acquainted with Renzo's marathon run of pro-fights divided between several events and promotions.

What's nice about this book is that it delves in the personality of each subject and shows how they collectively shaped the art int their own image, how the art is imbued with the spirit and values of each and how one family's commitment to each other can effect the whole world.

Peligro has produced, yet again, another superb screed allowing those of us to understand more comprehensively the roots of the art that we have taken into our hearts. Each chapter is imformative, revealing and inspirational and includes an assortment of photos never before seen from the family archives. The subject is even compelling enough to interest the non-practitioner. If nothing else, you get to see how dorky everyone looked in their childhood.

DISCLAIMER: These are not necessarily the thoughts, comments or opinions of GrappleTV. However, they are the thoughts, comments and opinions of the respective contributing Guest Editors.

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