The following is an introduction to the famed 10th Planet grappling system written by James Worley, a friend of mine. The intent is to examine the system for its key tenets and to educate those interested in grappling, without falling into the trap of "Eddie is the greatest/Eddie is the worst" that clouds many 10th Planet discussions. I hope you enjoy this and Worley's follow-up piece that will come soon.
May 2003 - Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Royler Gracie, the son of Helio Gracie the founder of Brazilian Jiujitsu, was competing in his fourth year at the ADCC (Abu Dhabi Combat Club) World Championships. He had defeated Charles Pearson in the elimination round, and was well on his way to claiming first place within his division, as he had done the past three tournaments. On the other side of the semi-final bracket was Eddie Bravo, a brown belt under Jean-Jacques Machado who had submitted Gustavo Dantas in the elimination round with a rear naked choke. Going into the match, Gracie was the heavy favorite, having started training jiujitsu as a child and possessing over thirty years of experience, compared to Bravo, who had started only nine years prior.
While Gracie had a more traditional experience with the sport, Bravo's was much different. Eddie Bravo was a student under Jean Jacques Machado, a Brazilian jiujitsu black belt who was an ADCC champion himself, but had one trait different than many other practitioners: Machado was born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, a condition which causes a variety of birth defects to the extremities. This had caused Machado to be born with no fingers on his left hand save for a thumb and pinky. As a result of this, Machado relied less on gripping the gi, or uniform for Brazilian Jiujitsu, and more so on a clinching method using overhooks and underhooks on the arms. This clinching method greatly influenced the jiujitsu game of Bravo, who devised his own unique style that utilized the effective control the over/underhooks provided and started applying them to grappling without the gi.
Despite being a heavy underdog in the matchup with Gracie, Bravo was able to use his system to survive against him, and eventually caught Royler in a triangle choke; making Bravo the first man to submit Royler Gracie within grappling competition (a feat that has never been achieved before or since). Though losing next to the eventual tournament winner, Leonardo Vieira, the victory over Gracie sparked some big changes for Eddie Bravo.
Hit the jump for Worley's introduction to the System.
Very shortly after defeating Gracie at ADCC, Bravo was awarded his black belt in Brazilian jiujitsu by Jean Jacques Machado, and opened up his own gym that focused on his style of jiujitsu, now known as 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu. The connections to MMA stars were developed over time, particularly Joe Rogan, George Sotiropoulos and more and the grappling world loves to wrap itself into knots over the validity of 10th Planet tactics at regular intervals. Now, the tactics are widespread enough that they are performed by grapplers who are not 10th Planet students, but have internalized the principles enough to employ them as they choose.
So what separates 10th Planet jiujitsu from Brazilian jiujitsu? The 10th Planet system is oriented towards MMA and no-gi grappling, and places great emphasis on control and avoiding damage taken while working towards submissions. There are three things that really separate 10th Planet Jiujitsu from Brazilian Jiujitsu:
1. The Rubber Guard
-This position is what most people commonly think of when they hear of Eddie Bravo or 10th Planet jiu jitsu. This position consists of first breaking down the upright posture of your opponent, reaching your own leg across their shoulder and neck, and hooking their ankle using the opposite side wrist. At the same time, the guard player puts his opposite foot in the opponent's hip, then squeezing the knees together to prevent the guard from being passed.
Nick Pace uses the rubber guard to set up a no-arm triangle on Will Campuzano.
Photo by Josh Hedges, Getty Images.
This first step here is known as "Mission Control". What this does is allows the guard player to maintain control over their opponent while leaving an arm free to work for submissions, all while avoiding an effective offense from the opponent. This is just the first step within the rubber guard submission game.
After establishing Mission Control, the next step is to trap the hand on the mat using your free arm, either by taking advantage of the hand already being posted on the mat or forcing it down, then hugging your own knee with the free hand to keep the arm on the mat and isolated from the body, allowing you to work for submissions. More recently, some MMA fighters, such as Conor Heun or Ben Saunders, have been adapting this control position to throw short punches or elbows at the opponent while avoiding damage themselves.
2. Emphasis on the half guard position
-While Brazilian jiujitsu incorporates various types of the half guard along with sweeps and submissions, the 10th Planet system places an extremely large emphasis on this position, particularly from a variation known as the lockdown. Though the lockdown is a judo technique in its origins, 10th Planet jiujitsu uses it as a way to maintain an extremely offensive half guard, where various sweeps and submissions can be performed.
The reasoning for placing a great emphasis on this position is that Eddie Bravo believes that half guard is much easier to achieve then the full guard, while still maintaining the ability to perform a wide variety of sweeps, submissions, and positional reversals.
Comparing the two, traditional half guard position involves taking the inside leg (that is between the two legs of your opponent), hooking towards your own outside leg, then crossing the back of the knee of the outside leg over the inside ankle.
Brock Lesnar (black/white shorts) is in the lockdown half guard of Frank Mir (red shorts) during UFC 100 at Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 11, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
The lockdown position is almost opposite of this; taking your outside leg and hooking over your opponent's leg, then taking the inside leg, crossing it over the outside leg, and hooking the opponent's leg, then extending. The benefit to using lockdown is that it keeps your opponent's leg extended and them off balance, while allowing you to start working from the position. Traditional half guard differs from this in the sense that the opponent can still maintain a level of control over their trapped leg, and more easily posture and work for submissions or a guard pass. The lockdown has been seen more and more frequently in MMA today, as many fighters have been using this position to avoid damage from the bottom.
3. The Twister
-One of the rarer submissions seen within MMA, the Twister has become gradually more well-known due to Chan Sung Jung pulling off the submission on Leonard Garcia in their rematch, and Alan Belcher attempting the submission on Rousimar Palhares. Though this submission may seem very strange and rare to the average Jiujitsu practitioner or casual MMA fan, one particular kind of person may recognize this quite well: the wrestler. The Twister submission, despite what many believe, is not an invention of Eddie Bravo, but rather a wrestling technique.
Prior to studying jiu jitsu, Eddie Bravo's only grappling experience came by way of high school wrestling. While brief, Bravo's wrestling experience in high school taught him primarily to leg ride as well as the wrestler's guillotine, a move taught as a pin, rather than a submission.
While training at Jean Jacques Machado's academy, Eddie hit the submission while rolling with another student, this submission being one that Machado had never seen before. With the name guillotine already existing for a choke within jiu jitsu, Machado called this submission "The Twister", which became popularized among jiu jitsu and submission grappling circuits. In addition to developing the Rubber Guard, Bravo has also developed a variety of setups for the Twister both from bottom and top control, even going as far as creating a Twister Side control.
This submission is one that puts an extreme amount of pressure on the spine, neck, and in some cases, knee, and is now largely banned from many competitive jiu jitsu circuits. As a result, this submission has been seen primarily in MMA settings, with one of Bravo's black belts, Gerald Strebendt, being the first to hit the submission within a professional MMA fight.
Having trained both Brazilian jiu jitsu, as well as 10th Planet jiu jitsu, I honestly believe that 10th Planet jiu jitsu is an amazing addition to your no-gi game. Though some of it may not effectively translate into gi jiu jitsu, 10th Planet jiu jitsu techniques and the control that it provides within no-gi grappling and MMA are invaluable, despite all the hype and misconceptions.
That's it for now. Look for James to give us a more in-depth technical look at these tenets later this week.