24 Jan 2017

Review: Beyond Technique 2, by Nic Gregoriades and Kit Dale

Beyond Technique 2 is the sequel to the popular first volume of BJJ concepts by Nic Gregoriades and Kit Dale. This follow up alters the structure by adding many more examples of the concepts as applied to BJJ techniques compared with the previous volume. The usual high production values and easy to understand delivery from the two black belts ensures this set is a valuable addition to students regardless of level.

This video is only available as a digital download, see the JJB Store.
Cost: £40GBP (about $50USD)
Length: 1hr 15mins


Nic Gregoriades and Kit Dale, two highly popular black belts, return together again in the follow up to their first joint effort. This time, the pair cover a range of conceptual points but spend much more time illustrating these with more examples of the concept as applied to jiu jitsu techniques.

Chapter listing and brief technique description
0:00 Introduction where Nic and Kit explain how they have listened to feedback from the first disc and the common criticism was the need for further concept examples.
02:00 Foot engagement. Nic describes why flexing the foot back (dorsiflexion) is a very useful concept that can be applied in a variety of situations.
24:12 Becoming formless. Kit describes the concept of yielding when facing an obstacle or pushing force.
35:36 Strong shape/Weak shape. Nic illustrates how keeping your body in an 'L' shape and all parts of your body in a forward facing alignment is the most efficient way to attack and defend positions (as opposed to upper body twisted to face a different plane to the direction your knees are facing for example.) At 46:30 Nic combines foot flexion, strong shape and formless principles to a long guard passing sequence which is a good illustration of three concepts in action.
52:30 Force the action. The 'force' here describes a principle where you land in a position in such a manner that it forces your opponent to react in only one of a small subset of predictable moves, which in turn allows you the to counter effectively.
1:04:26 Live application examples. Nic and Kit flo-roll but frequently pause their action to reveal the concepts they are applying.

Nic describes foot dorsiflexion

Rolling performance 
Over a period of one month, whenever I rolled, I would focus on thinking about the concepts taught in Beyond Technique 2.

From the very first get-go, I was able to pick up something very very useful - foot engagement. This is actually something I learned when Dustin Denes came to Mill Hill to teach us a triangle seminar. In that situation, Denes would make us execute the triangle techniques again and again and again, for four hours! And in each case, he was yell 'jiu jitsu feet, remember your jiu jitsu feet!!!!' By this, he meant for us to flex the foot backwards when engaging the last portion of locking in the triangle. With Nic's concept, he applies 'jiu jitsu feet' in several other situations and immediately it sparked a flashback to the Denes seminar. So after watching chapter one, in sparring, I made a concerted effort to always think about my foot flexion and it really made a difference, especially, I noticed, when I was using de la Riva guard and reverse de la Riva (which are not the examples Nic showed). Foot flexion might seem obvious to many experienced players (and my own instructor is probably rolling his eyes reading this admission), but my own DLR and RDLR tended to be really sloppy. I realise now that this is mainly due to weak foot flexion. Focusing much more on maintaining the dorsiflexion of my hooking foot gave me much better success. The same is true when using it during butterfly guard and a whole host of other positions requiring my foot, including the examples Nic showed, which include the lasso guard and the triangle choke. Already, with this chapter, I could see the benefit of learning BJJ via a common concept that could be applied to many other techniques - which was the whole purpose of Nic and Kit's series. Another good thing is that Nic applies the dorsiflexion principle in the other chapters he teaches too.

Kit's chapter on being formless I found was a much more nuanced concept. A good way to describe the concept is to think back to when you last rolled with your instructor (or any other experienced person), how many times have you tried to push them away or push back as they passed your guard or in general advanced their position, only to find you are pushing against nothing, because they've subtly moved out of the way and got to where they wanted? That 'be like water' idea was the concept Kit demonstrated in chapter two. [Just a minor side note, Kit wears a black gi and the background in the dojo where they film this set is also black so it sometimes makes Kit's body and what he is doing a little hard to make out. It's not a major issue but couple times I had to stop and rewind and look a bit closer to see what he is doing.]
I enjoyed this chapter. I'm not sure I was able to utilise the concept exactly as Kit describes it, but the whole principle of using the path of least resistance when trying to progress one's position is one that I'm always conscious of and try to adhere to (because I'm small, light and usually not as strong as my training partners). Seeing this chapter gave me the impetus to work on this a bit more. In any case, the being formless concept is a great examine of trying to stay relaxed when sparring.

Kit reveals his shy side, and at the same time demonstrates his becoming formless concept

Nic's chapter on strong shape/weak shape was an eye opener. I never really gave much thought before to the direction with which my upper, middle and lower body parts face when applying technique or position (I was probably doing it correctly but not all of the time). This was a chapter that really helped me but I needed to see plenty of examples of the concept applied. Once I saw the examples, it then became one of those lightbulb moments. During class, I was able to analyse my own position and correct it in accordance with the strong shape principle. It made a lot of my techniques just that extra bit better, for example, combat base, side control, low squatting stance etc. More useful, it is a concept that helps ring alarm bells when you are NOT in strong position, a classic example would be the leg weave or smash guard passes, where the top player has forced your knees to point one direction while your upper body is pinned flat, which are not strong positions because spinal alignment is twisted. One of the examples Nic shows is how to apply strong shape principles when executing the bow and arrow choke. I have never seen the bow and arrow broken down in this manner before so it was really enlightening. Another technique - the knee shield half guard was great, especially when transitioning into the underhook, a bit that I often fail at and that's probably because I wasn't applying a strong shape when doing so. I particularly liked it when Nic executes the guard pass using concepts from the previous chapters.

Kit's chapter on 'force the action' I found a little more difficult to apply in a wider array of situations - it's really only workable when you have drilled something really really well. The idea is, you land in a position and hold it, but your position restricts the options for your opponent in how they react and by doing so, you force him to give you something that you have pre-prepared for. In this chapter Kit uses the de la Riva guard pass and then later, the butterfly guard, as examples where Kit sits and waits for the defender to move and he reacts accordingly. As he describes it, it is where the chess game part of jiu jitsu applies. The principle he describes is certainly more than legit. It's just that I don't think it's a concept that is easy to apply unless you are pretty high level, or, you can apply if you have a set of positions that you have drilled to a high proficiency and will know far in advance how your opponent will react. Kit admits later in this chapter, that it is a timing thing, and something that works only if you have sparred and been in these positions a lot. For me, there are admittedly only a few positions where I feel proficient enough to be in the scenario where I can hold the action, force my opponent (I'm referring to experienced players) to do something that I can predict will happen and then execute the appropriate follow-up. For example it works usually when I am holding and waiting from one of my favourite sleeve grip guards and I know the opponent can only move in a certain way, which allows me to sweep or attack in a well drilled manner, almost as if I could read his mind. You could also easily see this concept in action from side control with the cross face - a very common position. From here, your opponent is usually so restricted, they can only move in one of only a small subset of escaping manouevres...and so on. But as I say, it really helps a lot if you are already proficient in those positions.

The final chapter is excellent. I really wish all BJJ instructionals would include a rolling section where (with or without narration) you can see the coach apply his techniques and concepts in a live scenario. Ryan Hall sometimes does this in his videos. I find it very useful to see these things used in its imperfect state (as in the unpredictable manner of rolling, it's not always the case that one can apply techniques in perfect textbook manner).

Nic and Kit enjoy friendly banter throughout the video

Final conclusions
This volume is probably one of the best to come out of the Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood list of instructional videos. The format of fewer chapters but each containing much more detail really works well to imprint these principles into ones brain.
But you may ask, does a chapter really need twenty whole minutes just to tell you, for example. how to flex your foot back? In my opinion, yes it most certainly does. The reason being that if you are like me, seeing how one concept can be applied in a wide variety of scenarios works far better than just seeing one. The previous Beyond Technique video was very good, watching it was like attending one seminar where you probably forgot 50% of the content (unless you watch it again and again) ...and in any case, it left you to your own devices in figuring out other ways with which to apply the concepts (other than the one example shown). Watching Beyond Technique 2 by contrast is more like attending four different seminars and with each seminar, you are able to absorb the concepts and understand the applications far better. I mean both sets are good, both are helpful, but the format works better on this disc compared to its predecessor.
Highly recommended!


About the Author


Author & Artist

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



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