5 Jul 2014

DVD Review - Lucas Lepri, Championship Guard Passing, By Digitsu

World Champion Lucas Lepri presents 24 guard passing techniques. These techniques apply to many popular guard positions such as the de la Riva guard, X-guard, spider guard and deep half guard. The production of this set is adequate though the slow-motion replays are tedious and the music annoying. Overall however, a very fine set of techniques from a master guard passer. The very specific nature of this set and the lack of conceptual explanation would mean this is of more use by intermediate to advanced players.

Available from Digitsu website
Cost: $69.95
Length: 180 minutes over two discs
Techniques: 24 (12 per disc)
Language: English
Region code: all regions

I have no business or personal connection with this company.

Preview of one technique:-

Lucas Lepri is an elite competitor from Team Alliance. His BJJ Heroes entry notes: "It came as a shock to most of the BJJ community when in 2007 he achieved the biggest victory possible in BJJ in his first year as a Black Belt, the World Champion Title (in 2007)."

If you watch videos of Lepri competing then it is easy to see he possesses a large array of skills from takedowns to submissions. Chief among his impressive skill set are his guard passing abilities. Despite the popularity of many elite competitors to develop ever more tricky guard positions, Lepri seems to have an answer to pass them all...and they are mostly all here in this DVD set.

Disc one:
Butterfly Guard Pass
Butterfly Guard Hip Drag Pass
Closed Guard Pass
DLR Guard Leg Smash Pass
DLR Guard Long Step Pass
DLR Guard Knee Slice Pass to Mount
DLR Guard Knee Smash Pass Variation
DLR Guard Knee Smash Pass Variation #2
DLR Guard Pass To Choke
DLR Guard Pass to Arm Trap
DLR Guard Pass to Keylock
Berimbolo Counter to Leg Drag
DLR Guard Single Leg Underhook Pass
DLR Guard Long Sweep Counter to Pass

Disc two:
Half Guard Pass #1
Deep Half Guard Pass #1
Deep Half Guard Pass #2
Reverse DLR Guard Pass #1
Reverse DLR Guard Pass #2
Reverse DLR Guard Pass #3
Spider Guard Pass #1
Spider Guard with Lasso Grip Pass #1
Spider Guard with Lasso Grip Pass #2
Spider Guard Dump Pass to Bread Cutter Choke
Collar Bicep Spider Guard Pass
X-Guard Back Step Pass
X-Guard Sprawl Pass
X-Guard Hip Forward

Each chapter begins with Lepri running through the technique in real time. He speaks good English and his step by step tutorials are easy to follow as he points out crucial details. He's not very audible though, it seems hard to hear him unless you push up the volume - but then the drawback is the ear-splitting background music when the slow-motion replays follow (more about that later.)

1. Real time straight viewpoint

The viewpoint during the real time instruction is from a floating cameraman. He seems to move around the subjects and closing in or out while Lepri is talking (images 1 and 3). It's not my favourite way to view things - I get motion sick easily and this kind of camerawork doesn't help me. I would prefer it if he remained fixed and Lepri simply re-oriented himself for the second take. Another observation is that when Lepri stands up, the cameraman does not move backwards or widen his lens angle, and you end up with an awkward chopping off of the partner. It's not a major deal since most of the time, Lepri is in low posture and tight to his training partner but it does seem a bit of a production oversight. Compare for example how the different viewpoints are handled by the Caio Terra - Modern Jiu Jitsu DVD set (which I have and will also review soon.)

2. Split screen viewpoints

Occasionally the chapter will add a split screen view (image 2), to see a hidden viewpoint. It's not particularly helpful - again if Lepri simply repeated the tech from a different angle, these hidden details would be visible. In fact one could argue the split screen was distracting.

3. Floating camerman

Each real time section is followed by a tediously long slow-motion replay (see the clip at the top, also image 4). The slow motion is shown three or four times from different angles accompanied by very loud pumping synth strings that really get annoying after the first listen. I could simply turn down the volume but it's really annoying having to press the volume up and down since Lepri's voice is so quiet.

Most folk I know who watch BJJ instructionals rip their discs to their hard drive and then pick and choose chapters to watch on their mobile devices. These replays are unnecessary. If I watched on my tablet or phone, I would trim to remove those slow-motion bits.

4. Slow motion replays

Notable techniques
You won't find Lucas Lepri cartwheeling, star jumping or spinning his way out of these guards. Lepri's style is evident throughout the disc set: strong grip control, low posture, close contact, isolation of a leg or legs, steady but increasing body-weight pressure and sometimes a switch of direction.

Most techniques end up in a superior position with the opponent rendered helpless and prone to submission. Interestingly, few of the techniques actually end up with a submission finish, only one - the spider guard pass to bread cutter choke shows a finish. All the others are pure and simple guard passing to superior position, Lepri assumes you'll know what to do once you get there. The opening butterfly guard passes are a simple and visible example of the way Lepri likes to pass.

The main bulk of disc one centres around passing the de la Riva guard (DLR). Lepri shows how his knee or elbow can disable the DLR hook (the opponent's lead leg winding around your lead leg) and then he isolates one or more of the opponent's legs. The pass itself follow's Lepri's grip control method - each pass relying on gripping lower and upper half of the opponent.

The headline making berimbolo (thanks largely to its popular use by the Miyao brothers and the Mendes brothers) is given a mention with one chapter here. It's one of the few DLR style passes where Lepri reacts to a moving and dynamic opponent. The other techniques assume the DLR player is static and you have caught the position early enough to prevent the angle and control that most DLR players aim for.

Disc two opens with a half guard pass. I would like to see more basic half guard passes but the deep half passes and the reverse DLR passes all follow the similar Lepri passing methodology.

The spider guard passes at first appear more complex than the others by virtue of the additional steps they seem to require. In reality they are no more difficult than the other techniques but disabling the foot on bicep followed by leg control is a crucial aspect which Lepri goes over in more steps than other techniques.

Lepri's guard passing relies on grip control and pressure. I was able to follow the simpler knee slicing DLR passes and had fun improving my own ability by focusing more on the grips and pressure aspects that Lepri emphasizes. I have to confess here that I do mostly spar playing from guard position so I had to force myself out of my comfort zone when testing out a couple of these techs...which is a good thing of course.

Concluding thoughts
Guard passing, like guard play, is a work in progress for all BJJ players. Most will prefer one to the other but over time, we all have to deal with situations we're uncomfortable with. For me, that is passing the guard so Lepri's set is the perfect set for a person like me. I think this set is more suited to intermediate and advanced BJJers because there is little in the way of conceptual explanations. Each technique is presented in a step-by-step manner to deal with a very specific situation but the early developing student might struggle to make many of these techniques work without some experience of the fundamentals behind the moves.

I'm keen to see how this set compares to my newly acquired Ryan Hall guard passing instructional. In my previous review of the inverted guard, I noted how Ryan Hall took a very conceptual based approach to his instructional. It is a wholly different approach compared to the step by step video instruction in this set and I guess it depends on what style you prefer (some people simply don't like video instructionals with lots of commentary.)

Regardless of the production and style of instruction, Lepri is a proven champ and if you can speed past the painful slow-motion portions and if you understand the concepts at work then I think there is real jiu jitsu gold here to exploit against your guard playing opponents.

About the Author


Author & Artist

Meerkatsu is the artist name for BJJ black belt Seymour Yang.



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