Bloody Elbow Book Review: Jiu-Jitsu University by Saulo Ribeiro


Back in the day I used to peruse quite a few manuals of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This was when Royce Gracie was blowing everyone's mind and I was trying to get a handle on technical lingo like "triangle" "mount" "half-guard" and "pass."

Its been a while since I updated my jiu-jitsu knowledge so I thought I'd check out Saulo Ribeiro's "Jiu-Jitsu University."

Ribeiro is a six time world jiu-jitsu champion and a two-time ADCC submission grappling champion. He currently trains UFC star Diego Sanchez. Ribeiro is an important bridge figure between his coaches and mentors Rickson and Royler Gracie and the 21st Century wave of hyper-modern jiu jitsu stylists Marcello Garcia, Robert Drysdale and Eddie Bravo.

Ribeiro's book reflects his place in the evolution of jiu-jitsu. The are several points where he diverges from the conventional wisdom of his predecessors. For example, he advises turning away from your opponent when caught in the knee-on-belly position, largely because its less expected than the traditional response.

He also has adapted his game to meet some of the approaches of the new blood, devoting several pages to dealing with new fangled positions like the X-guard.

Production-wise, this book lives up to Victory Belt's high standards. It's a thick 368 pages, includes thousands of color photos, carefully detailing each position in sequence. The book is well organized by belt color and reflects Ribeiro's interesting and novel jiu jitsu belt sequence: white belt is about surviving bad positions, blue belt is about escaping bad positions, purple belt is about employing the guard, brown belt is about passing the guard and black belt is about submissions.

I don't know if that's how Saulo trains his students, but it makes for a good way to organize a book.That clarity of thought is reflected in his tactical discussions as well. He always puts moves in a context of set-up and counters and frequently discusses the evolution of moves and positions in BJJ competition.

He also spends a great deal of time identifying common mistakes that should be avoided and tactics to recover when an attempted move fails.

On the whole, this is an excellent primer on jiu jitsu. Even though its two steps removed from MMA, its well worth picking up for anyone looking to improve their grappling game.

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