24 Jul 2016

Review - Flow Jitsu by Mike Bidwell and Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood

Mike Bidwell offers his vision of a flowing, transition based jiu-jitsu gameplan which all stems from an initial hip bump kimura sweep. It is a set that will most benefit intermediate level players who are looking to move beyond a singular focus when sparring and competing.

Available as a digital download from Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood website.
Price $49.95 / £38GBP
Length 1 hour

I viewed a digital download version. I'm not sure if a physical DVD is available.

Mike Bidwell is a US based BJJ black belt who is responsible for the very popular BJJ After 40 Facebook page and website. Many of his videos show an inventive, slick, flowing style of jiu-jitsu that have fans cooing with admiration and (the odd) critic suggesting they are unrealistic. Whatever your view, Mike himself, at the age of 47 (same as me!) operates with a nimbleness and athleticism more akin to a person decades younger! It is a testament to his lifestyle and fitness regime. This instructional, his first full length offering, provides a chance to fully address his own jiu jitsu philosophy with a series of modules that build and follow after one another.

Chapter Listing, Technique Summary, Thoughts
0:00 Introduction from Nic and short interview with Mike
4:17 Outside kimura sweep [Module 1] - textbook hip bump sweep with neat details when partner resists
7:55 Inside kimura sweep [Module 2] - when the grip to the outside of elbow isn't available, the inside grip is a viable option. Keep an eye out for the face-wrap when in mount (10: 30) where Mike transitions to the bow and arrow choke. Mike just moves his partner's arm across without resistance, it would have been good to include a detail if there was some resistance to the face wrap.
13:10 Mike shows what he calls the 'baby restraint' position. This is an excellent set-up for the rear naked choke, especially in nogi, but also for the fact that it is a lot tighter than regular seat belt grip.
14:04 Further detail on the baby restraint and the rear naked choke.
16:17 Kimura Sweep Counters [Module 3] - When opponent bases his hand on the floor, you can arm drag him to counter.
17:20 There is a quite excruciatingly painful looking choke from the back.
18:20 Mike shows the nogi version of the back take.
19:09 If your own body gets in the way as you try to drag his arm across, Mike transitions to omoplata. His 'speed bump' tip is a very nice little detail.
21:00 Chaining sweeps and setups [Module 4]. This section shows how to use blocks as opportunities to use another variation to achieve the same effect. At 23:20 there are a number of very handy ways to break opponent's posture in your guard that would be useful not just for the hip bump/kimura sweep but whatever your motive.
24:10 Americana Set-ups [Module 5]From here, Mike runs through techniques once you have secured the Mount position. A common problem when taking the mount so quickly via hip bump sweep is that your opponent will have energy to fight you off much harder compared to the longer route of guard pass to side control to mount. Mike refers to this high energy burst from the opponent as the 'one minute Hercules.'
26:00 Americana is a 'safe' attack that Mike recommends. It is safe because if something goes wrong, your position is not too compromised. In this section, the details Mike shows are a bit different to the usual Americanas that are taught. At 27:20 you can transition from a resisting Americana into a head and arm attack. With the latter, Mike doesn't dismount completely, instead, he rests in knee on belly position. The 'flow' aspect of this segment continues when Mike shows a very cool second Americana when the opponent counters the head and arm triangle. It's a neat little move that may not seem obvious to many players, but definitely worth trying as it seems such an 'easy' submission to take. But that's not all, when this second Americana attempt is countered by the opponent, Mike completes the 'flow' by going back to the head and arm triangle for the finish. At 29:30 Mike shows an alternative finish - a wristlock that looks excruciating!
31:00 Americana to Peek-a-Boo [Module 6]. In this segment, Mike uses the threat of an Americana to bait the opponent into giving up the arm wrap postion. From here, the bow and arrow choke presents itself for the finish. There is a bit here when Mike threads his knee behind the opponent's head. It seems to be a very tight space within which to try. Me being small, I'm able to manage it, just about, but I think it might be hard for longer limbed people (screengrab below)

33:18 Straight armbar from when the opponent escapes your bow and arrow with nice tips on leverage. At 34:39 Mike shows how to bicep slice when the opponent grips his own hands together defending the armbar - worth noting, it's a technique allowed only for brown belts and above at IBJJF rules tournaments.
35:50 Seatbelt Counters [Module 7]. The 'seatbelt' here is when you are in mount and the opponent grabs around your waist.  I must admit, I've rarely if ever encountered my opponents doing this, but it's useful to know I guess. More importantly, Mike uses this segment to execute the seated triangle or seated armbar. At 38:29 Mike shows the triangle from the bottom - I notice he prefers the style utilised by Ryan Hall with your spare arm in a deep underhook and your body at a very acute angle (he goes into more detail at 41:35). The double seatbelt (39:00) is something I see often in MMA fights - where the person being mounted utilises a last ditch effort to save from being ground and pounded by grabbing both arms around the top person's waist and buries his head into the top person's stomach. From here, Mike works a cool omoplata. There is a sweet rolling omoplata variation at 40:22.
43:51 Mount Set-up [Module 8]. This segment shows how to get the arm (face) wrap while you are in top mount. I found this chapter a lot more realistic to use than hoping for your opponent to use a seatbelt as per the previous module. I particularly liked the way you can move the opponent who is uing the T-rex defence. From 46:53 Mikes shows a really cool wristlock setup that I have never seen before. It looks really weird and painful!
49:05 [Module 9] Guard Lapel Attacks. This is my favourite chapter of the set. I love using the gi lapels especially from the closed guard. Mike shows a lot of stuff I haven't seen before, but they look highly effective and very fun to try. But more than just a bunch of submission techniques, Mike deals with the common problem of the opponent seeing your lapel grab in advance and preparing for it. He shows a variety of ways to make sure the lapel collar gets placed into action without the opponent knowing. At 52:58 the lapel theme continues but this time from top mount position. So far, all the techs have been using your opponent's gi. From 56:40, Mike shows how to use your own gi to attack as well. The instructional closes with a very complex looking rolling gi lapel choke that seems more typical of the kind of inventive swirling techniques Mike showcases on his Facebook page.

Production Notes
Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood videos are always very cleanly shot, with excellent lighting and sound. There are no video gimmicks apart from the odd zoom and pan. Mike explains a technique at the same time as he demonstrates with perhaps a short preamble to each chapter. He repeats most moves at least three times, adding details along the way and often, on the third or fourth 'repeat' he introduces a variation based off the original technique so it's worth paying attention. Mike is very good at explaining technique and concept precisely and clearly to leave you in no doubt how to execute the move or why.
A lack of chapter menu listings in the beginning or a permanent chapter watermark is a bit of an annoyance. I like to fast forward to the bits I want, however my chapter guide above should help you if the final retail version of this set does not include them.

Here is an official release clip showing the inside kimura sweep and how to deal with the counter:

Rolling Practice
I like Mike's concept of angular momentum. It's a lot like how in traditional martial arts, movement energy can be redirected to your benefit. Mike demonstrates this idea early on in the chapters when uke resists your initial hip bump sweep attempt. Elsewhere, he doesn't specifically namedrop angular momentum but it does reappear in other techniques. On Mike's Facebook page, there is lovely demonstration on angular momentum here.
Another thing I really liked here is that Mike will frequently show the same technique adapted for nogi. I like it when instructors show gi and nogi variations within the same segment, it's a lot easier to remember.
During sparring, I was able to execute the inside kimura sweep very effectively. It's such a simple sweep but with my brain focused on angular momentum, it made completion of the move that much more efficient. Having a variety of alternatives when my partner based his arm out was handy, I was able to hit an omoplata off of it just as Mike showed. That 'speed bump' grip is really handy in trying to flatten out the opponent during omoplata.
Another technique I had a lot of fun with was the baby restraint. As I took my opponent's back I found it was very easy to apply and my partner gave me feedback at the same time telling me it was very tight and he couldn't escape from this grip position.
I didn't try the Americana nor the Peek-a-boo, I'm just not a fan of the Americana. But when I did manage to slip into the bow and arrow, I was able to get my knee behind my opponent's head, plus I tried gripping his farthest leg before pulling. I wouldn't say it was a more successful finish than the standard bow and arrow, but it was nice to know that one doesn't have to stick with just a single position to make it work.

Over the course of an hour of content, Mike produces a tree-like network of what-if scenarios which all stem from basic hip bump/kimura sweep. Each chapter's module flows from the one to the next until the viewer is presented with an entire game plan based around finding an alternative position or technique whenever you encounter resistance. In my opinion, it's a great set for intermediate and more experienced players who are looking to advance their success in sparring. Most students will notice whenever they spar with high level team mates, that these more experienced players seem to always have an immediate answer to whichever defence or escape you execute. This is the Flow Jitsu philosophy that Mike here advocates and one that I personally really like myself.

For beginners, I think the deeper strategic element of flowing one technique off another within a quick instant might be too difficult to pull off without more experience, however, at the basic level, this set still offers an excellent technique guide on how to execute a high percentage sweep from the closed guard with good solid follow on techniques from the mount.

To conclude, this set begins with a simple technique and explores the myriad of possibilities that arise depending on how your opponent reacts. For every block, escape or counter, there lies an opportunity to transition to a different technique. That's the 'flow jitsu' that seems to be at the root of Mike Bidwell's style and one that I very much try to emulate for my own rolling experiences. Hopefully this set will allow you to make it yours too.


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Author & Artist

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



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