30 Jul 2010

Book Review: BJJ Spirits 4

BJJ Spirits Vol.4

This is the fourth instalment of the semi-periodical Japanese BJJ and grappling magazine and DVD. It features interviews and techniques by a host of well known BJJ athletes including Ricardo De la Riva, Leonardo Vieira, Guillhame Mendes and Robert Drysdale. Despite having text and commentary mostly in Japanese, this production still represents a valuable instructional tool as well as a prized collectors item for BJJ nerds. I bought my copy from Scramble store in the UK.


Man I sometimes envy followers of mainsteam sports. People who love tennis, golf, motor racing, football, heck even competitive knitting, have their needs catered for by a wealth of easy to find magazines and print matter. Whilst us grappling fans do have access to a number of quality e-zine websites and can import Gracie Magazine or Tatame, imagine if we also had our very own glossy title to rival Vanity Fair or GQ? Well, in Japan, they do. It’s called BJJ Spirits and I have issue four right here in my furry paws. So let’s take a look inside...
It's a book, well actually more magazine, and a DVD - a 'MookVD'

Who’s Inside?

I’m pretty impressed with the BJJ Spirit journos, there really do reach for the skies. Want a reveal all interview with Ricardo De la Riva? Sure, send someone over to Rio. How about a photo-shoot, interview and step by step with Robert Drysdale? No problem, we’re coming over...oh and can he do some goofy faces too? Yeah, perfect. But wait, what about our Japanese readers who want to see some homegrown stars, no worries, let’s add a few in. I’ve no idea who they are, but they look pretty cool!

"Drysdale-san, please, you do goofy, okay?"


Well obviously all the Japanese text is not going to mean anything unless you can read it. So consider this book a pictorial guide to cool BJJ techniques and portraits of cool BJJ stars. But here’s the USP to this, and indeed all other publications under Fighting Spirits: the enclosed DVD.

This is singularly the best thing about buying BJJ Spirits. You get to peruse through the print version, then check the same techniques again in moving footage form. Genius. Why can’t all BJJ instructionals do the same?

I paid £15 plus PP from Scramble for this book.Ignoring the interviews since they are all in Japanese, that leaves us with only the step-by-step techniques as value. And for this aspect, the book delivers and the DVD just backs it up nicely. There are in total 42 step-by-step techniques contained within the book, with about half those available on the DVD. The middle section of the book is dedicated to the half guard - a position I really like and the reason why I bought the book. 42 techniques for £15 represents 35p a technique so looking at it solely on the instructional value, I would say it is great value for money.


You do not need to understand Japanese in order to get some value out of this book. I had fun trying to learn the techniques contained within the book and the DVD was easy to navigate so if I can do it, anyone else can.

I think one of my favourite techniques from the book is demonstrated by Yusuke Honma. This funkily coiffeured black belt starts in a sitting up half guard and leaps straight into a triangle choke - no faffing around, just straight for the kill...awesome!

Yusuke Honma half guard to triangle transition...me like!

As you can see from the pic below the DVD is fairly straightforward to navigate. It offers you an opening page of three choices: competition footage, techniques and 'varieties' which I assume to mean miscellaneous.

The first section contains 2 hr 20mins of fight footage from four tournaments - three in Japan and one in Hong Kong. One of the highlights for me in this section is the match (or maybe a demo match) between superstar Leonardo Vieira and black belt Joao Paulo Kuraoka (from Axiis BJJ Japan). The playful never-ceasing movements between these two athletes is astonishing. Adding to the spectacle is the background blips, pings, cascading trills and whooshes made by cameras, mobile phones and other electronic gadgets from the audience that soundtrack the fight a bit like a computer game - Streetfighter IV for real!!  After this match, Leo then procedes to spar with a selection of lower ranked BJJ students but this time the caption actually states it is a demonstration match. Honestly these matches are a joy to watch - an advert for the pure unadulterated brilliance of go-flow jiu-jitsu...beautiful!

Leo Vieira demo
Another highlight worth mentioning in the tournament section of the DVD is a match between Eduardo Telles and Andre Galvao at the Copa de Hong Kong 2 in 2008. In sharp contrast to the Leo demo spars, the match between Galvao and Telles is much more serious. It's not a demonstration but a tactical chess match between two gifted exponents of the game. Telles plays his tricky defensive counter attacking turtle game and Galvao plays his physical attacking top game. Amazing! The thing is, these two superstars are not hundreds of feet away in a huge auditorium at the Pans or the Mundials, the audience are just sitting there a few feet away right on the edge of the tatame with all eyes glued to the action.

Andre Galvao (white) v Eduardo Telles

The 'techniques' section of the DVD covers some of the printed techniques shown within the book. It's pretty cool to see Ricardo de La Riva teach on film as I don't think he's done an instructional before. I bet within the text there is the question: Hey Professor - is it true no one has EVER passed your guard in competition? Well, that's what I would ask if he ever made it to the UK (rumours suggest he might very soon!!!!)

Snuck in the techniques section is the 'Spiderman' Guard pass by Leo Vieira. That had me in hysterics were it actually not such a incredibly useful technique to use in a crowded dojo!!

The final portion of the DVD is the miscellaneous chapter and my favourite short within here is the Hong Kong BJJ travelogue. The cameraman basically visits a couple of BJJ and MMA academies in Hong Kong, gets the guys to say hello and goof around a bit. Man I miss Hong Kong so much and watching this brought back so many memories (sadly my trips to HK were before I knew about BJJ).

There are tons more content to the DVD, I've only mentioned a few highlights but all of it is great viewing.


BJJ Spirits and the related publication Grappling Spirits is what BJJ nerds the world over would kill for in their own language. It is quality. Nevermind that it is all in Japanese, there is enough great content for everyone to enjoy. And nevermind the bookk came out in 2008. The content is timeless and the techniques very current.

The book is nicely sized to take along on the boring commute to work and the DVD is easy to navigate and enjoyable to watch. In short, anyone who calls themselves a jiu-jitsu fan ought to get themselves a copy of BJJ Spirits right now. If you don’t, then don't blame me when your training buddy rocks up and squeezes the guts out of you with a new technique he just happened to pick up from a little-known Japanese instructional. Ha!


I bought my copy of BJJ Spirits 4 from the Scramble store here. This book is so cool I’m happy to rave about it without need of sponsorship, payback or freebies. However, whisper it quietly, I think the MEERKAT discount code to get 10 percent off still works. Try it now!

Super bendy! De la Riva.


About the Author


Author & Artist

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


slideyfoot said...

Cool stuff - I enjoyed the techniques from the BJJ Spirits issue I got to review, which was definitely helped by having a bunch of English speakers on the DVD (Lloyd Irvin guys, randomly).

De La Riva does have a few instructionals out, but I've no idea what they're like.

Meerkatsu said...

Thanks for pointing out the DLR instructionals Slidey, I am quite tempted to have a look. Maybe put it on my Xmas pressie list :)

I do remember well your BJJ Spirits #6 review and it is clear that as each edition is published they are more and more aware of their international audience and more and more English is added to the copy and commentary.

At some point it won't surprise me if they actually go the whole hog and produce a fully English language edition. As I said in my piece, these things have a long shelf life so it may be worth their while doing so.

Anonymous said...

Nice stuff mate

dirtywhitegi said...

whoaa @ DLR's feet!

BJJ Spirits definitely looks like a cool mag and yeah if only there were an english version.

Hopefully one day they'll make it international. I think a lot of people would buy it just because it looks flashy then get hooked on the quality of the content.

Meerkatsu said...

Thanks Dirty White Gi, btw cool blog!

Anonymous said...

This article is great. I am sure everybody can discover something new and helpful in it.

Anonymous said...

I like your ideas very much, and your post as well. I'll surely add it to my bookmarks.

Anonymous said...

have you watched any of the deep grappling tournaments that they sell on scrambles website? i was thing about getting one


Meerkatsu said...

I haven't, but the preview videos seem like a lot of fun!


© 2015 - Distributed By Free Blogger Templates | Lyrics | Songs.pk | Download Ringtones | HD Wallpapers For Mobile