This summer I've been spending my Saturdays getting some extra mat time doing a couple hours of Sambo, getting a different perspective on grappling. It has been fantastic fun and I highly recommend cross training in Sambo to every BJJ guy I know who can still stand to hear me babble on about it. I've found the ground grappling to not be drastically different from jiu jitsu, but one of the instructors there abuses me when I turtle with the crucifix.
This sparked my interest in the position, so when I saw that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Matt Kirtley, known in BJJ blog circles as "Aesopian", was releasing a new e-book on the position I got excited. And when his co-author Marshal D. Carper contacted me to see if I wanted to review it, I jumped at the opportunity.
I jumped right into Mastering the Crucifix, and immediately recognized some of the techniques I had been on the wrong end of in recent weeks. I feel my experience with the Crucifix up until now is pretty typical of most BJJ students, I have played around with it but never formally trained it and struggle to get many submissions from there. So, along with a few guys from my school, I've been drilling the techniques from this book for a week or two now.
Simply put, the crucifix. It is something on an underused position in jiu jitsu because it isn't a scoring position, but it is an extremly useful position and offers a great deal of submissions, many of them low risk. Attacks on the turtle are very applicable for a BJJ competitor as turtling is a common strategy to avoid guard passes and are well schooled in protecting against having their back taken, but leave themselves very open the crucifix.
The e-book covers how to achieve the Crucifix, the fundamentals to maintaining the position, and a fully bevy of submissions and transitions. This includes a section of crucifix sets ups from positions that will likely catch opponents off guard because they are not the places toy normally expect to be defending against the crucifix.
How is the format?
This e-book makes use of high quality gifs in place of still images breaking down the different details of the technique, creating an experience much like our own Judo Chops. These gifs are accompanied with well written technical explanation and a video where Kirtley teaches the technique and demonstrates it. The production values of the video are low, but that is expected in BJJ videos and my only real complaint is that the volume needs to be turned pretty far up to hear the instruction.
Overall it is an excellent format that anyone who enjoyed the old form Bloody Elbow Judo Chops will be able to appreciate. It breaks down the key aspects of a technique and I really feel it helps create a quicker understanding of a technique and helps with troubleshooting, a critical aspect of an instructional text.
They also provide different angles, which can be very helpful. The makers of the e-book were nice enough to send a few gifs for use in the article so you can get a real look at the product, so here are three different angles of a guillotine attack from the kneeling crucifix.
Who is this best for?
I'd recommend this book for everyone but the most novice grappler. Kirtley addresses the idea that the crucifix is looked down upon by some in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and I agree with his assessment that it is an underrated and underused position. So if you are past that first 4-6 months of grappling training where are learning your bare basics, this is an excellent training tool to add a new aspect to your game.
The response in my gym to the drills has been very good, and some of our guys have been picking up some of the techniques quite quickly. I like the gifs and format, I really think it helps with the learning of technique.
The whole thing costs 39.95, so it is a bit pricey, but the information in it is solid and worth the price. If you are on the fence about spending the money the entire second chapter is free, so go check that out, it covers the basics of the position.