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Bloody Elbow DVD Review: Rafael Lovato Jr's Guard Mastery

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T.P. Grant takes a look at Rafael Lovato Jr's new guard DVD set

Rafael Lovato Jr
Rafael Lovato Jr
Photo property of Black Belt Marketing

Last week Rafael Lovato Jr, likely the best American jiu jitsu competitor to date, released a new DVD set on guard work. While known as a guard passer, Lovato was actually a guard player and he has put much of his highly diverse guard game into the Guard Mastery DVDs.

So when the producers of Guard Mastery sent me a copy for review I was very excited because Lovato is well know for making a quality product, and this DVD set does not disappoint.

What will I learn?

Nothing revolutionary, let us start with that. This DVD set is not focused on a single guard or advance in guard play. Rather it is more of an overview, a starting point from which to build a well rounded, modern guard game. Lovato doesn't get stuck on any one guard, rather he focuses on chaining together techniques. He starts at the basic closed guard with the opponent on the knees and shows a variety of techniques and chains coming off a sweep. He then addresses opponents who stand in the closed guard and then a variety of open guards including the spider guard, de le Riva, reverse de la riva, the x guard, and others.

There are over 70 techniques and there isn't a one stand alone technique. All of them fit in with another technique taught, making it easier to work into live rolling.

Who are these DVDs best for?

Anyone looking to add to their guard game. I'd advise staying away from this if you are in first 6 months, but if you have a few stripes on a white belt, or more, this is an excellent starting point for more advanced guards. Even for more experienced grapplers it is still a valuable tool.

One of the best aspects of this set is Lovato teaches transitions between sweeps, submissions, and other guards, and there is something in there for just about everyone. I am currently a purple belt and at one point Lovato teaches a sweep I learned from BJ Penn's guard book and that has been part of my game for years. The next video Lovato taught a transition to X-Guard from that sweep that was so simple I just sat in amazement that I hadn't figured it out for myself at some point.

Final Thoughts

The only real knock I have on this DVD set is the production is about average for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu DVDs. Every technique is a single shot, no changes of angles or detail shots, and the sound seems to be the original recording with the filming. But really those are minor critiques and, as I said, fairly average for technique DVDs, production value isn't why people buy these DVDs.

The reason people buy an instructional is for the technical instruction, and this set has it in droves. I've watched most of the videos, but am only about a fourth of the way through drilling the techniques, but I'm already picking up useful additions. If you are looking to build up your guard game, and instructionals are your thing, this is worth your time and money.

The DVDs are currently sold out, but you'll be able to buy it right here.

For more MMA and Grappling analysis, history, technique, and discussion be sure to follow T.P. Grant on Twitter or Facebook.

For more Bloody Elbow coverage of all things grappling, be sure to bookmark the Bloody Elbow Grappling Hub and check out the Bloody Elbow Grappling link in the Library tab at the top of the page.