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Review: Kazushi Sakuraba’s ‘Anti Jiu-Jitsu’

Grappling demigod Kazushi Sakuraba releases an essential instructional to give any grappler the edge on the mats.

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Kazushi Sakuraba is an undisputed giant in the world of grappling, having been instrumental to the rise of MMA in Japan and a pioneer that straddled the line between professional wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts. From his days as the ‘IQ Wrestler’ to becoming more widely known as ‘The Gracie Hunter,’ he remains to this day a revered figure in competitive grappling—having semi-regularly participated in Quintet and other grappling endeavors.

While he’s also released his ‘Kimura Hunting’ instructional, more recently he teamed up with the team at BJJ Fanatics to release ‘Anti Jiu-Jitsu’—a collection of theory and technique surrounding Sakuraba’s approach to dealing with BJJ competitors from a Catch Wrestling perspective. Released last year, it contains some great content for anyone who might be struggling with their grappling game or just wants to add to their arsenal. This latest series is reminiscent of the technique and flow that Josh Barnett routinely displays. Not surprising, considering their backgrounds and formation as disciples of Billy Robinson and Karl Gotch.

So with that in mind, this is a product absolutely essential for any grappler looking to go beyond some of the more conventional BJJ fundamentals. With a wrestling-first mentality, there’s a lot of fun surprises here for the viewer.

Starting off with a bit of theory to set the table, Sakuraba is present with his translator as well as multiple-time champ Bernardo Faria and BJJ phenom Craig Jones. His first segment is all moves toward a “Single Leg Masterclass,” which takes a simple concept and adds a few small elements to a basic attack. From there the focus shifts to chaining and positional awareness, all of which Sakuraba expertly and succinctly breaks down.

The next segment is all about chokes. The focus is on his excellent rear naked choke and covering all the bases to stay ahead of the opponent’s defenses. The bite on the chokes when he applies them looks ruthless, but like almost everything he does it appears somewhat effortless. Jones and Faria take turns applying the technique as well, with Sakuraba coaching along to walk them through the intricacies of how he prefers to work the submission. No waste whatsoever here.

Here’s a clip from that segment:

His instructional on chokes doesn’t even soak up a ton of time, even though there’s plenty of information provided. It’s the following part of the series, however, that really shines.

Segment 3 focuses on leg locks, with an emphasis on Sakuraba’s kneebar entries, adjustments and finishes. It’s a real treat to see him work out situations to prevent his opponent from escaping at every turn with ways to keep fellow grapplers ahead of the game at every opportunity. After that, there’s a bit of heel hook workshopping, as well as a bit of toe hold practice.

The final segment is a podcast episode with all parties involved, as well as BJJ Fanatics head honcho Michael Zenga, where they get heavy into theory at points. But, that’s mostly focused on getting into the mind of Sakuraba and discussing his life as a successful grappler that has seen and done so much. This part isn’t really anything you’ll use on the mats, and that’s perfectly fine. It’s more akin to what most instructional books have at the beginning, with stories, historical context and a better framework to understand the person divulging all their knowledge.

It’s a great peek into what makes the man who he is, and what spurs his curiosity for expanding his horizons. Personally, I found it to be insightful and often fun, but I understand where some viewers may not be particularly fond of it since they may want more technique from beginning to end.

Overall verdict? Excellent. I recommend it for anyone that wants to round out their game and get some advantages over their training partners. I’d recommend it even more for those that have a preference for no-gi or want to focus on MMA, or perhaps those that just like Catch Wrestling but haven’t been able to train exclusively in it. It’s a fun addition to your library with guidance from a master.

Sakuraba’s ‘Anti Jiu-Jitsu’ is available exclusively at BJJFanatics, currently at $47.00 in digital form.

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