NOTE: Introduction and bio provided by Ben Thapa. Review provided by Matthew Roth.
When is an instructional book for a highly physical activity worth your money? Pretty pictures and legendary names are nice, but we need to know that there is tons of actual content to sink our mental teeth into before cracking open our wallets for that hard-earned money. Rest assured that Marcelo Garcia, one of the most dominant figures in Brazilian jiu jitsu since the early 2000s, has delivered a massive dose of grappling brain candy in his most recent book, Advanced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Techniques.
Marcelo is a five time Mundials champion, four time ADCC gold medalist and perhaps one of the three or four most dominant figures ever in elite submission grappling competition. Many highlight clips show Marcelo's preferred strategy of constant offense, single leg takedowns, slick guillotines and tight back control. His 2010 and 2011 competition seasons ended with zero defeats and his opponents rarely scoring any points on him.
To get good at submission grappling requires an enormous bit of time on the mats in both drilling and live sparring situations. Drilling moves over and over under the watchful eyes of an instructor allows the grappler to embed the movements and timing into the lizard brain and and to get accustomed to doing this in that situation. Sparring gives us the opportunity to encounter live situations in which we progress through a series of actions and reactions until time is called. Often the live rolls end in submission or with one person having been in a dominant position for longer.
The body can be trained through hours and hours of mat time, instruction and physical training outside of the gym. However, it is the mind that is more important than the body. We need to see and recognize situations and tell our bodies to act accordingly. That is where videos, DVDs and books claim to help us improve. Ideally, a grappler wants to attack in a way that opens up a ton of options.
A couple of photos for evaluation:
This book is 320+ pages long, which is slightly smaller than the classic Jiu Jitsu University, which is 360+ pages in size. The biggest Advanced Techniques sections are on arm drags, back control, breaking guard and submissions. Back control, one of the highlights of his game, is covered in 68 pages. Breaking guard, perhaps the skill most in demand on the competition circuit, is covered in 63 pages. The 67 page long submissions section skips the usual armbars, triangles and leglocks. A separate 26 page section is devoted entirely to submissions from back control. Arm drags, one of Marcelo's staples, get 44 pages at the beginning of the book.
The breakdown of techniques follows the same exact format that Victory belt uses for all instructional manuals. There are multiple camera angles so the reader can get a feel for the body's placement instead of making an assumption. The book does focus on the gi but many of the techniques can easily translate to no-gi grappling scenarios.
Possibly the best thing about this book is that they understand that grappling matches begin standing. The 44 pages at the front of the book devoted to arm drags and single legs is a step away from the norm with Victory Belt. Other books they've published have just illustrated ground techniques without any discussion on how to get the fight there. It's a great change that hopefully continues in future books.
As far as the title, personal perspective is that nothing about this book really screams "advanced" in that everything showcased can be used by a competitor of any level. While some are more difficult than others, Garcia's grappling style is simple enough that there isn't a need to have certain physical traits such as when using the rubber guard.
- The biggest pro for myself and Ben is that the book really does cover everything. There's no wasted space and no matter what kind of jiu jitsu player you are, you'll find something in this that will help elevate your game.
- The multiple camera angles help with illustrating the different sequences.
- The amount of techniques actually discussed. As previously stated, the fact that the book shows different arm drags is a HUGE plus. The sheer volume of pages dedicated to certain aspects of Garcia's game make this book a grappler's bible.
- The biggest con for me is that the gi often blocks the camera from showing how the arms and hands are placed on an opponent. I understand that Garcia is a fantastic gi player but I just don't think the gi translates well for photographs.
- Adding to that, sometimes the sequences are too understated which sometimes means various steps often look the same.
I'd recommend this book, especially if you are serious about getting serious in jiu jitsu. There's something in it for everyone and it will help round out your jiu jitsu game.
Matthew Roth received a free review copy. It did not change his perspective. Ben Thapa paid for his copy. That did not change his perspective either.