Braulio is the hottest name in town right now. The current European openweight, ADCC openweight and World heavyweight champion is not only an awesome competitor, he's a darn good instructor too. Just ask his very loyal and adoring students at the Birmingham Gracie Barra Academy. So I was very keen to have a butchers at his latest set of BJJ instructional videos courtesy of the CageFilm website...
CageFilm is a website dedicated to martial arts documentaries and instructional videos. You can buy DVDs but most of their material is for direct download purchase. This is the case with the Braulio videos. Tim Lord, who runs CageFilm, is offering one new Braulio lesson each week. He personally films the footage at Braulio's academy and it is exclusive to CageFilm.
He told me the series was called 'Invisible Jiu Jitsu' in order to emphasise the unseen aspects of technique. Rather than just showing a straight technique, Braulio is trying to show the set up, the direction, the follow-through if the situation changes or if the opponent reacts differently etc.
Each video costs £6 to download, but lesson one is absolutely free. I like free. Free is what hard-up parents who dabble in an expensive hobby like to hear. The other lessons require a password encrypted download so you can only watch it if you have this key. I guess this is to stop piracy and unauthorised distribution. I don't mind this since I like watching vids from my PC as I have a very good widescreen monitor. But having the option to whack it on the big living room TV or iPhone would be nice but not essential for me.
Lesson one can be downloaded for free by following this link here:
This lesson, which is 45 minutes long deals with the closed guard. The opening chapter shows tips on controlling an opponent (his partner here is fellow GB black belt Otavio Sousa) who is trying to pass your guard. Braulio starts off with little titbits of advice on breaking posture. I immediately liked these tips. You know they work and are so simple you wonder why you never did them before.
Next up, Braulio deals with what to do when your opponent manages to stand-up in your guard.
He continues his theme of breaking his posture by negating the part of your opponent that is the obstacle - namely the arm that is holding your main torso. Again, I quite like this manoeuvre as it is not dependent on size, strength or agility...ok, maybe a little core strength in order to shift (whilst effectively upside down) sideways.
Chapter two of this video deals with submissions from the closed guard. Braulio starts off with an armlock where one of your arms is overhooking your opponents opposite arm and gripping his opposite collar. After turning onto your side, you pressure down on his shoulder and elbow with your legs. It's a fairly basic technique that most BJJers who have been training a few months will have encountered. But Braulio provides a ton of extra little tips and pointers that make this seemingly simple technique work properly. At one point he recognises that most people get it wrong because they are 'too afraid' to move the hips away from the opponent in order to create extra leverage on the elbow. Braulio enthuses us, the viewer, the 'believe' in oneself.
Chapter three deals with concepts for passing the guard. Braulio goes step by step through how to stand up in guard and how to break the guard open. This short sequence alone, I think, is the very best technical instruction and worth the download alone. Standing up in guard, in my opinion, is one of the hardest aspects of passing the guard and Braulio breaks this down into easy to understand bite sized chunks. The key emphasis here, is to anticipate in advance what your opponent is likely to do and protect yourself in advance. Almost like playing chess and thinking 3 or 4 moves in advance.
Braulio is very enthusiastic in explaining the techniques. What I like about this video is the lack of the extremely monotonous slo-mo repeats. I have a lot of instructionals that I have to fast forward cos all I want is to see is the technique, listen to how its done and then move on. If I really like something, I'll use the pause or slow-mo button, that's what those buttons are there for.
The film quality is very well shot. Lesson one is a 545MB file which I imagine is close to high definition (I've no idea if it actually is HD but it looks good quality to me). There is a brief intro and end-discussion from Braulio. Watching this video really is like having Braulio give you a private lesson in your living room - apart from the fact that he can't see you and correct you personally, but it's as close to it as you can get.
When I visited GB Brum earlier in the year, I found Braulio to be very charasmatic and full of jokes and mickey taking - you don't get that here, obviously it is a bit more seriously present. But Braulio does not stop talking. I mean he really gives out an incredible amount of verbal instruction - probably to most I've seen in any other instructional video, it's quite incredible. Not only technical instruction, but theoretical and even motivational - like the 'believing in oneself' bit earlier. What I also like is that Braulio offers insights into how his game works when he competes. The types of strategies and tactics he uses.
Braulio ends by advising us to be ahead of the game - cancel out any anticipated counters that your opponent might make as you move. It is essential advice and one that I will attempt to keep in mind when I train.
But for free, and then six pounds per lesson thereafter, it really is fantastic value for money.
Tim told me that the series is on-going and will continue for as long as there is demand for it. We could potentially have Braulio teaching us each week for years to come!!
I quite like the look of lesson 3 and 4 so I will review those videos in future blog entries.