Leo Santos before this seminar (not unusual as I haven't heard of a lot of people outside my tiny bubble). But one quick view of Leo's highlight video and list of very impressive achievements was enough to convince me that his seminar would be worth attending. I was not wrong.
Fresh Face (sort of)
Leo, a fighter who in his BJJ heyday, was known for his devastating butterfly guard, was fresh from his MMA win at BAMMA6 the previous night. Understandably, he was a little shattered and began the session with an apology if he seemed a little groggy. I didn't notice his tiredness because despite his previous night's exertions, Leo was an excellent instructor and taught us a progessive sequence of attacks and sweeps, each one following on from the previous technique.
Jump to Half Guard!
Leo began with a stand up drill where you effectively jump to half guard followed by an immediate sweep. It's an unusual approach but I have seen it used in comps. I guess Leo wanted to introduce a quick and expedient way in which to attack with something unexpected but still reasonably high percentage.
The next three or four techniques were all based around the half guard sweep. All relied on directing the opponent to where his head was pointing and several techniques relied on gripping his gi lapel in order to create the appropriate lever. One technique required the opponent's gi lapel to be passed between his legs and yanked pretty hard. Needless to say there was much wincing of faces as the guys realised what a ballbreaker it was!
I loved these techniques. Real small person jiu jitsu where the guy on the bottom can use pure technique to produce a sweep even on a much larger opponent. Sweet!
Although Leo is known for his awesome butterfly guard. He's actually very handy with de la Riva guard, X-guard and all manner of guard techniques related to the butterfly. He's not keen on spider guard though. We asked him why and he said he just didn't like it. Haha, fair enough Leo.
The thing I find difficult about butterfly is that whenever I try it on an opponent, they find it stupidly easy to collapse me and laugh at my pathetic attempts at the sweep. I basically end up never using it, nor even think about using it. But that does not mean I don't want to use it. Hence my keenness to learn from Leo today.
The techniques Leo showed I've probably learned before but when it is in the concentrated form of a seminar, for some reason I retain the information a little bit better than I normally do. Leo was very good at highlighting the little details that would ensure a safe and effective butterfly guard. I hope I can use them for real in sparring practise.
One of my favourite techniques is when you allow your opponent to wrap his arm around your head (which is fairly common I reckon). He's thinking, GUILLOTINE, and you're thinking, HAHAHAH SWEEP AND BACK TAKE HAHAH! I love techniques where you goad the opponent into thinking he is attacking you only for it to be turned against them. To me, that's pure jiu jitsu.
After a half a dozen more very cool butterfly guard techniques, Leo wrapped up the session with a Q&A, asking what problems we had over butterfly. He answered each poser with a neat solution and in a way, I felt this section was even more insightful than the formal section, as he showed us stuff we would never think of using.
We also asked him some questions about his career and Leo admitted, he was unlikely to focus on the big BJJ tournaments anymore as his emphasis now was on MMA. But he still trains and teaches gi, and he urged us to compete as much as we could in order to learn. One nice anecdote he shared with us was about his brothers. He recalled how his older brother, shorter but much stockier, would beat him relentlessly (I presume at BJJ, maybe not!) and in turn, Leo would beat the crap out of his younger brother. All three would grow up to become awesome fighters in their respective divisions and he cites his siblings as his major inspirations.
I did intend to perform a full studio lit photoshoot and interview but poor Leo looked exhausted at the end so I spared him my grilling. I hope he visits again as I really enjoyed his laid back style of teaching and friendly manner. Good luck to Leo in all his forthcoming MMA fights and thank you to Champ Camp for laying yet another awesome seminar.