Matthew Roth and Ben Thapa have already reviewed Marcelo Garcia's latest instructional Advanced Brazilian Jiujitsu Techniques for Bloody Elbow but I wanted to get a little more in-depth so I asked Victory Belt if I could interview Garcia's co-author Glen Cordoza.
Cordoza is also the co-author of Garcia's first instructional The X Guard as well as books by Fedor Emelianenko, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Randy Couture, B.J. Penn,Karo Parisyan, Lyoto Machida, Matt Lindland and Anderson Silva (click fighter's name for link to BE book review) so it was a treat to talk to one of the most knowledgeable and experienced authors of training manuals in MMA. He's also a pro MMA fighter with a 3-1 record. Here's the interview:
Nate Wilcox: I got the new Marcelo Garcia book Advanced Jiu-Jitsu and I want to talk about Marcelo Garcia. What's so special about his jiu-jitsu technique that it's not just one, but two books?
Glen Cordoza: Well it took two to encapsulate his entire system and it's important to note that Marcelo's system obviously embraces other traditional jiu-jitsu techniques that you'd see in every general consternation. However, what sets Marcelo's system apart from everything else that everybody else is doing is there's no weight limit to his techniques and what I mean by that is he only utilizes techniques that are energy efficient and that work on larger opponents.
For example, when I was conducting the photo shoot for this most recent book, I would ask Marcelo if he wanted to include other techniques because as an author, as a photographer, I'm always trying to get the talent to give me everything, like don't hold anything back.
I want the entire system and what Marcelo would continue to tell me is, "This is the system. This is what I do." If technique doesn't work on a larger opponent or through grappling or rolling as I'm sure you know he's highly competitive competing in tournaments all over the world and various seminars and is one of the few guys that actually rolls with everyone at his seminars so through that process, he's able to really figure out what works and what doesn't. What causes him to spend a lot of energy and what does not.
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For example, in the introduction to the book, Josh actually mentions, he supplies a scenario where he was pestering Marcelo to inject the D'Arce into his system and Marcelo would just continue to tell him, "No, it takes too much energy to apply the submission. I would much rather go for something else, something that's a little more effective. Something that would work on a larger opponent that maybe has broad shoulders and long arms which would make the D'Arce a little more difficult to apply," and an interesting point worth noting, when we did the photoshoot for this book a year ago, we actually did another photoshoot and it was the same techniques as the previous photoshoot and as we were going through the techniques, some of the techniques he threw out because he was like, "You know, I don't do this anymore. From our last photoshoot ‘til now, I've decided that this technique is not as efficient as this one that I'm about to show you," so it's a constantly evolving system but what makes Marcelo so unique and what makes his technique so effective is one, they're proven by Marcelo himself and two, they work on everybody. So whether you're a big guy fighting a small guy, small guy fighting big guys, it works and you know it works because it's coming from the best in the world.
Nate Wilcox: If you had to pick one technique from the book that jiu-jitsu practitioners should adopt to their style, what would it be?
Glen Cordoza: That's a tough question because I don't think there's any one technique. I think the lesson to be learned from a book like this that simply illustrates all the techniques that he would utilize is any takeaway of the concept of throwing out what isn't working for you and keeping what does. To answer your question, specifically, me personally, I focus more on back attacks and the back takes chapter specifically because that' something I really enjoy. That's part of my game. That's something that I'm always looking to do so I think the best way to really utilize the book is to figure out things you gravitate towards, the style that you have and implement the techniques in the book that fall in line with that particular way of rolling. For example, if you're always on top and that's your game , the first book X-Guard may be not what you want to focus on. This book which has guard passes, arm drags and various takedowns, that may be where you want to direct your attention.
Nate Wilcox: So is it fair to characterize this book as a top control book as a comparison to the guard game of his first book?
Glen Cordoza: No, I think when you look at the first book is all butterfly, it's called the X-Guard but it's important to note that it's his entire butterfly system. They know that he doesn't really have a closed game. He's always moving, constantly flowing. I guess the best way you could call it is an open game system so again, he wouldn't focus on anything other than what he does which is butterfly guard, X-Guard setups which, as anybody that trains knows, the finishing move, anybody can apply the finishing hold and learn it within seconds, it's getting to that finishing hold that's difficult so one of the best aspects I think of the X-Guard books is it included all the different ways you can ride in the position as well as all the attacks that you have once you're in the X-Guard.
Now with this book, it's a continuation of the system, like Marcelo for example is famous for his arm drags and back attacks so that's highlighted in the book so if you're interested in Marcello's arm drags and back attacks, everything he does is critically featured in the book and then also, in addition to that, you have his favorite takedowns, his favorite guard passes. One of my favorite techniques that changed the way I play my game was his guillotine chokes. His guillotine is unbelievable and he's really well-known for it, he's famous for it and he shows all the setups and all the ways that he applies his submission and covers it in great detail as well.
Nate Wilcox: You mentioned the arm drags, at one point this book was going to be titled "Arm Drags," is that correct?
Glen Cordoza: The original title was going to be "Arm Drags and Back Attacks." When we first signed Marcelo to Victory Belt, we originally were going to do the first all-encompassing book and at the first photoshoot, that time, I think this was 4-5 years ago, at this time we were thinking we were going to get the X-Guard, arm drags and back attacks because at that time, that's what he was well known for. Well, we got through the X-Guard and the butterfly guard which is another critical piece of his game, we were like, "We have an entire book here. Let's just do two books and the next book focus on arm drags and back attacks."
Well, after shooting for arm drags and back attacks, we realized we were just scratching the surface on this guy's system and as a practitioner myself, I want to know what else he's gonna bring to the table. What else does Marcelo have to offer that's going to help my game and also the reader's game? Because Marcelo is the best wrestler in the world and he could go down as one of the two best jiu-jitsu practitioners in history so it's cool to have his techniques, the techniques that he uses on a day-to-day basis, the ones he views as the best, the ones that he will include into his system. You know, or at least have confidence that they're effective, they work and they've been tested at the highest levels of competition so it leaves no doubt in the reader's mind what they're looking at like, "Do they work? Is this some technique they made up on the fly while they were doing the photoshoot?" That would absolutely not be the case.
Nate Wilcox: Is it necessary for the reader to have the first book or be familiar with the first book to get a lot out of this book or is this something where you could buy Advanced Jiu-Jitsu by itself and get a lot of value.
Glen Cordoza: No, I think both books stand alone. If you're looking for Marcelo's entire system, having both books is definitely gonna help you out but yeah, you don't need one versus the other. For example, if you buy Advanced Jiu-Jitsu techniques, basically what you get is his system minus the guard game, minus his butterfly guard, x-guard setups. You're just going to be without those techniques so there's a lot of overlap in terms of concepts and things in that nature that you may be missing but yeah, it's not like you're going to be lost. It's a technique book. It's like a sequel where if you watched episode two without watching episode one, you'd have no idea what's going on. It's not like that.
Nate Wilcox: Can you explain how the co-writing process works. So Marcelo comes in and starts reeling off techniques for you and a photographer and you just start writing a book out of it? Tell us how it works.
Glen Cordoza: The process has been refined over the years. I've worked with Eric Krauss and I've done a number of books on my own and a lot of times, it's been a collaborative effort because there's so much work involved. Initially we speak with Marcelo because we're highlighting Marcelo's book. We'll talk with Marcelo and sit down and figure out what are the key aspects that we want to cover. We've decided that we want to capture your entire system so we go in and we'll shoot every technique.
Literally, it's in an insequential order because you have a limited amount of time with the athlete. They're busy people and these photoshoots are a grueling process. They take all day. This last photoshoot we did was like a 15 hour shoot so what we'll do is we'll video and he'll coach me through the process before I even take the photos so it'll introduce the technique, describe why he does it, when he does it, the reasons why it's effective, when it works, so long and so forth and then he takes me through every step of the technique which is where we were able to extract information for the captions and then once we've gathered all the information, we'll actually take the photos step by step and if you've seen any of the Victory Belt books, you already know that we shoot from multiple angles so that you can really see what's going on from everywhere, like if you were in a jiu-jitsu class and you were standing there, you can only see one side.
You don't know what's going on on the other side so it's helpful to have that frame of reference and we'll take all that information, come home, organize all the photos into sequences, transcribe all the interviews and attempt to regurgitate that information into a publishable script and that was like the cliff notes of how we put these books together. There's a lot of other things that go on and obviously Marcelo and his guys and they were involved in this entire process just making sure that everything was up to par in editing and making sure that the information was accurate and that's essentially in a nutshell the writing process.
Nate Wilcox: I have one last question about the writing process. The structures of the books, is that something that's worked out in advance from talking to the athlete or is that something that you capture the material and then you think of how to structure? Does it vary?
Glen Cordoza: Yeah, it's the difference between athletes, the ladder is usually how we put books together. It usually is, we're not looking at it as a system when we're there. We're just trying to capture as many techniques as possible so the primary job of the co-author and what we do, the most important job we do as a co-author is developing the system from the techniques. It's formed in their mind already and the way that they're presenting these techniques, rarely are they presenting in a single day.
For example, when they go to a seminar, you're there an entire day and usually they're only covering a couple concepts, a couple positions and maybe one or two, a handful of techniques that you can do from those positions based on how your opponent reacts. If your opponent reacts one way do this, if your opponent reacts this way then you take this path. It's really limited so you're really only taking a stone and skipping it over the surface of a lake and that lake is a metaphor for the entire system and that's really where our job, it's important for us to look at all the techniques we have, lay it out and put it all together in a way that will allow the reader to not only read it from cover to cover and it will make sense but it will also be easy to navigate the book. Like for example, if I just want to learn about arm drags, all the arm drags are contained within that section and within that section, one technique flows to the next.
Usually, like Marcelo for example, when we're shooting the arm drags, he already knows. He's like, "Okay, we're shooting the arm drag. When executed perfectly, assuming everything goes right, you're going to land in his back but from the moment you capture his arm to get the technique, there's so many different reactions from your opponent that he can give you. Here's example A and he pulls his arm back, okay you can shoot in for a double, there's a single leg option. There's a lot of different paths you can take based on the reaction your opponent is giving you." They know sometimes it will come out like, "The is technique A, technique B and technique C and so on and so forth."
Nate Wilcox: So you've co-written a lot a lot of these technique books, grappling, MMA and striking. In addition to Marcello Garcia, you've written books with Anderson Silva, Randy Couture, Fedor Emeliananko, Cung Le, B.J. Penn, Eddie Bravo. Who was the most fun to work with?
Glen Cordoza: Eddie Bravo is hands down my favorite person to work with. He's awesome, man. In addition to being very, very intelligent and having a very unique system and having a highly effective system, he has a philosophy outside of his 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu. The name says it all. It's really based outside the box and he's always hitting me with unique concepts and interesting philosophies and the 10th planet system in and of itself is a constantly evolving system. Just like Marcelo Garcia, it's important to mention that. I enjoy working with everybody. Marcelo Garcia is one of the nicest guys I've ever met in my life. Just to answer your question honestly, I would definitely say Eddie Bravo and he's had the most profound impact on my jiu-jitsu and overall athletic career just based off his advice and the long standing friendship that we've had.
Nate Wilcox: I know you'll be reluctant to answer this one, but who's the most challenging athlete to work with that you've done a book with?
Glen Cordoza: I have nothing bad to say about anybody that I worked with but the more challenging are obviously the language barrier. We've done books with Nogueira, Anderson Silva, Fedor Emelianenko where we actually traveled to Russia to his hometown of Stary Oskol.
That was definitely a more challenging aspect as a writer because you're obviously having to extract information for a technique book, techniques that you may not utilize. I'm filling gaps, I'm a martial artist and I've trained for several years so I can fill in gaps when necessary but the book isn't about the co-authors. It's not about us injecting information into the manuscript. It's about getting the information from the talent, from the subject whether Anderson Silva or Fedor Emelianenko.
They actually speak really good English despite what people think. If you get them off camera, they open up a little bit but we had interpreters in both cases and just using the interpreters was a challenging process and it made the writing process more difficult but it wasn't like they were hard to work or difficult to work with or anything like that. Just the language barrier made things a little bit harder.
Nate Wilcox: Are there any other books that you've done that maybe you feel deserve more attention than they got? Some of the books, like the Eddie Bravo book were big hits, but some of them kinda snuck under the radar. Are they any that you think people kind of slept on?
Glen Cordoza: Yeah, I think and probably a lot of critics come out and say, "Lindland sucks," but I think Matt Lindland's book is the most underrated book that I've been a part of and also Lyoto Machida's book.
We didn't see as much traction on Lyoto Machida's book than you would have thought and especially because we released his book during the height of his, I don't want to say height of his career but he was UFC champion and it was the "Machida Era" and all this and it really captures his unique stand-up game and in addition to that, has a lot of different sumo techniques and even the ground game is not, you won't get an incredible amount out of it but the reason they snuck some jiu-jitsu on there for is the karate background, maybe a guy who's interested in learning what MMA was, what Lyoto does in MMA and how he transfers jiu-jitsu into MMA and we wanted it to be an all-encompassing book. Just in the process of writing that book, my stand-up game improved dramatically.
The other book that was even moreso than Lyoto Machida's book was Matt Lindland's book. People forget that he is a silver medalist Olympian and one of the most decorated wrestlers to ever compete in MMA and in my mind, a legend in MMA in and of itself. He's been around since day one and he still coaches athletes that fight in the highest levels of competition, Chael Sonnen for example. Anyways, his book is the best book on wrestling out there whether you're wrestling or wrestling for MMA. In my opinion, of course, it's the best book you can buy.
The problem I feel where we went wrong with is the title. It's called Dirty Boxing and it's a bit of a misnomer and while there is a touch of dirty boxing in the book, it's more about his wrestling techniques and his wrestling system and he broke it down in a way that's very easy to digest and I learned an incredible amount during the whole process of writing that book and I think it's the most undervalued book for Victory Belt that we've done in the martial arts category yet.
Nate Wilcox: I'm glad you brought that one up because I've read all the books you've put out or almost caught up with all the Victory Belt books. I'm one or two behind. The Lindland book I really thought was exceptional because it makes it so systematic. It's like the Eddie Bravo books where it's almost a decision tree. Here's four positions of control and here's how to get to each one from each of the others and I really think it's an excellent book so I'm glad that you brought that one up.
Glen Cordoza: Thanks man. That's an interesting, I've never heard that about the decision tree. I like how you put that and I like how you also compared it to Eddie Bravo's book because that was another book where, I think out of all the books that we've done, it was an actual system and like you said, decision tree, I've never heard it put it like that and I think that's the best way to articulate what the book encompasses and how you can navigate through the book like, "Okay, it's easy to break down. Here are your controls. Here are your options based on one to three reactions that your opponent can give you. You were right in this position, okay, you want to see your options in this position? Go to this chapter," and then you're in a whole ‘nother branch. You jumped onto a different branch of the tree and Lindland's book was structured very much the same way like I said, I think Lindland's never got his due credit and I still use that book as a reference. Wrestling's one of the weakest parts of my game having never wrestled and I continue to use that book for my resource.
Nate Wilcox: So what's in the pipeline? What other books do you have coming out?
Glen Cordoza: Very, very soon. I'm just now putting the finishing touches on it, Advanced Rubber Guard, which is the newest Eddie Bravo book and it's obviously, I guess you could consider this a second edition to Mastering the Rubber Guard. However, for people that, we try to make this book so that even if you didn't buy Mastering the Rubber Guard, that you would still be able to extract all the same information and we still basically leave no stone unturned. You still have access to all the same techniques but Mastering the Rubber Guard would still be very important if you're more interested in his bio and the history of 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu.
Also, there's some techniques we left out of Advanced Rubber Guard simply because we'd already covered them in great detail in Mastering the Rubber Guard but with that being said, there's also a lot of overlap between the two books. For example, the dog fight, we used the dog fight techniques as a reference, now there's a whole new edition of the dog fight called the perfect dog fight which opens up a whole new slew of options so in the last five years, there's been an incredible amount of techniques added to the system, new positions.
The last book didn't cover the deep half, the lockdown half guard that's evolved since then, the cocoon. He's evolved an S-clinch based on using some of Marcelo Garcia's techniques but it's hands down the best book on the guard that you can buy. Even, I can think, we have to expand on the title, Advanced Rubber Guard. It's important that our readers understand that it's not just for advanced people. It basically encompasses his entire system of the rubber guard and it's grown so much since Mastering the Rubber Guard.
I don't know what the exact page count is but I have over 500 pages of design techniques so it depends how the designer lays it out but it's a massive, massive book with tons of new techniques. Some of the old techniques have variations now that come as a result of opponents figuring out some new defenses and I found another way to lay out the book that I think is going to make it easier for the reader to navigate the sections. That was one of our first books so as a co-author, I've learned an incredible amount as well so you can expect a really good product.
Nate Wilcox: And when can we expect to see that on Amazon?
Glen Cordoza: It's available for pre-order on Amazon now. I would say four months from now, the book will be available and it will be released. You can go out on Amazon now and you can pre-order it and it will be shipped the moment it gets back from the printer so it'll be hot off the press and delivered to your door.