Paul Schreiner is an American BJJ black belt under Claudio Franca and currently one of the main instructors at Marcelo Garcia Academy in New York. Schreiner is one of those names you come across often by way of his reputation as an amazing instructor. He's often cited on forums for example and Ryan Hall mentions him often across his many BJJ instructionals. Based on his reputation, I was keen to find out for myself how well he would translate across through the medium of video instruction.

This instructional is available as an On Demand video from the Digitsu website, a mobile app on iTunes and Android or as a physical DVD.
Price on demand or app is $24.99
Price for DVD is $39.99
Duration: 118 minutes

Chapter List 
  1. Closed Guard Passing Principles 
  2. Half Guard Knee Slice 
  3. Layers Of Half Guard 
  4. Defense Shoulder Pressure Principles 
  5. Twisting Half Guard Pass 
  6. Twisting Half Guard Pass - Using Neck Control 
  7. Vs Deep Half 
  8. Vs Lock Down 
  9. - Sample chapter here:
  10. Passing 1/2 Butterfly 
  11. Passing 1/2 Butterfly - 2 
  12. Passing 1/2 Butterfly - Folding Pass 
  13. Passing 1/2 Butterfly - Knee Slice 
  14. Passing 1/2 Butterfly - Reverse Underhook 
  15. Passing 1/2 Butterfly - Jumping Leg Drag 
  16. Butterfly Pass 
  17. Butterfly Pass - 2 
  18. Butterfly Pass - 3 
  19. Butterfly - Folding Pass 
  20. Preventing One Leg-X 
  21. Negating Shin-To-Shin Guard 
  22. Passing One Leg-X

Technique discussion and trying out the moves in sparring
Schreiner is not a man to use more words than necessary - it is a very different viewing experience to, say, a Ryan Hall or Gianni Grippo video. He will describe the action as he performs it, then he will repeat the action a second time but add some more detail or reveal a subsequent transition to the first part. But don't be fooled by the lack of verbosity. What he offers here is absolute gold! The very first technique (basic closed guard pass) contained such a rich amount of detail, it alone was more than enough to make me really think and evaluate the manner of my own closed guard break and pass. It is also so straightforward, I was able to teach the exact same technique to my kids class, albeit in more kid friendly language.

Schreiner emphasises shoulder line, for upper body control

The theme throughout the set is precision and accuracy (hence the title!). I don't know if Schreiner is a fan of the highly dynamic side to side, bait and switch guard passing style of, say, Terere or Rafa Mendes, but there's none of that here. Every technique Schreiner teaches here is rooted in slow and methodical application of pressure - more specifically, pressure on your opponent's head and upper torso, which allows you to pass and take full mount or side mount control.

The chapter on passing the half guard was especially useful. I find I get stuck in the bottom person's half guard when trying to pass and it can take me a bit of a while to get unstuck. Schreiner's very economic and precise way of doing this really improved my success rate. It was so effective that it got to the point where I would intentionally get myself stuck in half guard just so I can practice the movement.

[Note: me personally, just owing to lack of time, I often try DVD techniques out for the first time during real time sparring, I rarely drill them beforehand. It means I'm relying a lot on memory of the move having watched it before. It means I suck at it at first, but, if I feel there's an inkling of something positive, I'll persist in every sparring session. I don't do it on high grades at first, because I'd never get anywhere! I'm probably wrong to do it this way, you should most certainly find time to drill before.]

What I like about Schreiner's teaching style (apart from his economy of words) is that he explains techniques in both conceptual and practical terms. He'll point to the parts of his and his opponent's body that require pinning or moving, and he'll demonstrate why that's important. The Twisting Half Guard Pass is a good example. Schreiner breaks the pass down in detail and shows each grip and body position that forces the opponent to move a specific way and anticipate his subsequent movement. The slight downside of these segments is that they can be very long and unless you drill it repeatedly, hard to remember in all its detail.

The Lockdown gets its own chapter. Clearly the influence of 10th Planet stylists have necessitated the need for everyone else to learn how to pass this most frustrating of half guard positions. Schreiner uses one concept but shows two or three minor variations based around the same pinning concept to extract your leg safely.

Passing the Butterfly and Half Butterfly guard follow and there are 8 chapters dedicated to it. By now many of the same aspects of the pressure passing concept become familiar as they are repeated for each. One of these is the notion of shoulder line. It's important to keep your shoulder line at the same level more or less as your opponent. Too high or too low and you cannot exert the top pressure required to succeed in these passes.

Passing butterfly guard

It would be fantastic to see in more detail, how Schreiner deals with other common guards, especially de la Riva guard, spider guard, x-guard and similar 'long-range systems' where acquiring upper body control is a bit more tricky. He does touch on this during a couple of the chapters where he suggests you have to force your opponent into butterfly guard, which you can then proceed into passing using his methods. With this in mind, I did really like the Butterfly Folding Pass, I like that idea of floating above your opponent's open guard just enough to prevent him extending you away. I liked the concept of waiting for his knee to pass the centre line before you attempted to pass.

I'm glad the single leg X-guard pass is included. This position is very popular in the gym I train at as a lot of the blue belts and above like to sweep, transition and foot lock from here.

One curious consequence of watching this DVD is that you will start to see things around you in terms of intersecting lines, zones and grids. The way Schreiner describes technique and concept is very scientific, it's like your opponent is not a person, but an infographic diagram full of arrows, dashed lines and annotated notes giving directions and theoretical principles. At least it did with me...and that's a good thing because it made me analyse and re-think a lot of things I struggle with when passing guard.

That being said, although this DVD is very detailed and extensive, it seems it only scratches the surface of the pressure based approach to guard passing and I'd love to see more! Don't get me wrong, there is a wealth of examples, more than enough to observe and begin to understand the common aspects behind the system. For me, I found the chapters on passing the half guard to be specifically helpful but the DVD overall has given me much food for thought on improving my own game in general.

I don't believe in 'advanced' BJJ, to me, it's all jiu jitsu. A beginner could quite happily watch this and I'm sure there are aspects that would be useful. In reality however, I feel this set is something that only a good blue belt and above would gain most from. The reason I say this, is because Schreiner's system requires a more nuanced understanding of position and precision, something that I feel only a more experienced grappler would have the skill level. I could be wrong, there are probably an army of white belts who are pressure passing the crap out of everyone right now and it is little old me that's the one who is playing catch up! If pressure passing is very new, then regardless of belt level, Schreiner's set requires multiple repeat viewings in order to capture all the details.

So, to conclude, this is an excellent introduction to the pressure passing system from one of the world's finest BJJ instructors. If passing guard is something you are serious about improving, then I highly recommend this set to begin. For more extensive DVDs on pressure passing, try Ryan Hall's Passing The Guard (I have this set, though not reviewed it yet. Ryan also trained with Schreiner, so there are some overlapping principles). I haven't seen them, but have heard good things about Bernard Faria's set and Rafael Lovato Junior's set.