17 Jun 2021

Instructional Review: Wim Deputter

Belgium black belt Wim Deputter might just be one of the best-kept secrets in the world of online jiujitsu tutorials. He has a highly impressive cv - 20 years of BJJ training, over 600 grappling and MMA matches more than 500 of which he has won. He puts together this wealth of experience plus his training in other disciplines (mainly wrestling) to offer a wide variety of novel concepts and methods for use in BJJ. This report takes a look a some of his best tutorial work...

Wim Deputter is a Belgium BJJ black belt who teaches out of his academy Brasa Belgium. He is a frequent instructor at various BJJ Globetrotter events. I first heard of Wim thanks to studying a lot of content by Priit Mihkelson (see my mega review). Priit regularly gives credit to Wim as a major influence in several of his own tutorials and there is in fact quite a bit of familiar overlap between the two instructors: both are keen tutors of conceptualised BJJ information, both are keen to pick apart established jiujitsu habits, both are proponents of a defence-first style of sport BJJ. 

If you enjoy Priit's work then you'll find Wim's videos to be a very useful accompaniment in your BJJ studies. Wim's work of course stands on its own very well, especially when you consider how much he has tested them in competition scenarios.

Where to watch Wim's work.
There are three main channels where you can watch Wim's tutorials - BJJ Fanatics (five titles),  Wim's own YouTube channel and the Globetrotters In Action YouTube channel. Having studied all of Wim's content, you could catch most of what you need from Wim just by watching his free content alone, but the Fanatics titles help pull everything together into a neat package that is easy to refer to.

Full disclosure: I've never met Wim and I paid for the Fanatics videos myself. This report represents my own opinions. 

The Mirroring Principle (TMP) is Wim's catch-all concept that is used across all his BJJ Fanatics titles and many of his Youtube videos. 

According to Wim's website: 
“The Mirroring Principle is an algorithm that tells you how and when to move where in relationship to your opponent’s reaction. Counter pressure with pressure, rotation with rotation until your opponent over- or undercommits. Then transition to the next step. Continue this proces until you reach the end of the road and the goal of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu: Submission.” 
In my opinion, that's a very complicated explanation for what is actually a very simple concept: from what I understand, TMP simply means that for every action (by your opponent) there is an appropriate reaction (from you) - and that's pretty much all it is. What that reaction will be will differ on the scenario. 

TMP is nothing to do with reflections in mirrors (in spite of my title photo composite). TMP is a command telling you WHEN to do something, not HOW, ie mirroring your opponent's timing. The BJJ Globetrotters video below is a good example of Wim at his best. It is titled The Mirroring Principle so you would think it would be an introduction to Wim's system. Which it sort of is. But if you look beyond the title you'll see Wim throw out a ton of really useful information. I personally found his 'rock bottom' posture, controlled breathing, baby bridging segments to be really useful. Where TMP comes into play is to realise that if your opponent begins working a move on you, then you need to counter that with a movement yourself - very often those movements will come in small increments. You certainly don't use just any random movement, you still have to learn what to do.

Although the title says it is a general introduction to TMP, as noted above, TMP isn't much more than a timing concept. This video is best used as a lesson on defence and escape - the Wim Deputter way!

Wim's concepts for defending and escaping tough positions are different from what most BJJ schools teach but his somewhat unorthodox methods work very well. 

In this tutorial, Wim shows four major concepts: the outside shoulder escape (aka the baby bridge), the inside shoulder escape, getting to the knees and framing - all four of these concepts interconnect very neatly to form a fluid and robust system to escape most bottom positions. Practitioners of wrestling will see a lot of familiar movement patterns but to most BJJ students (like me) techniques such as the baby bridge and inside shoulder escape will seem odd at first. They're worth persisting with as I found all four concepts to be very useful during rolling.

In the video below Wim shows how his Babybridge and shoulder escapes work:

This whole set compliments very nicely with the Running Man & Baby Bridge tutorials by Priit Mihkelson. Priit calls the inside shoulder escape 'The Hawking' and although the principles taught by both instructors are more or less the same, it's very useful to have two slightly different perspectives.

Overall, a great set and although marketed as an introduction to The Mirroring Principle - it's better seen as an introduction to Wim Deputter's many novel jiujitsu defensive and escaping concepts.

This tutorial is my favourite among Wim's Mirroring Principle series. The way he explains the postures and positions required to stack an opponent effectively is probably the best I've seen on this topic. 

The first three volumes of this set are useful from a theoretical point of understanding but for me, where this set proved most useful was in Volume 4 where Wim shows how to pressure stack against the closed guard. I have been applying these methods constantly against my training pals and they were very effective. they are so good that my own training pals adopted them and now they use them against me!

Here is Wim teaching his stacking guard passing concepts at a BJJ Globetrotters camp - Part 1, Part 2, part 3 and Part 4. It's worth spending time working through these videos either on Youtube or via his Fanatics title because pressure passing is very slow and require meticulous attention to detail otherwise it can fall apart. In the past, I've tried stacking to pass the guard but eventually felt perhaps it wasn't for me as my success rate wasn't as good compared to, say, standing up to pass, or inserting my knee between their guard. But I have to thank Wim for his videos have helped re-instil confidence in the technique and now I use it all the time.

Also of great interest in Volume 4 is Wim's trademark triangle bait - he calls it the King's Gambit and you can see how successful he was in competition with it in this video here:-

I must admit it's a fun move to try and a testament to how solid the principles that underlie Wim's stacking ability are. Below Wim explains the King's Gambit in much more detail than in his BJJ Fanatics title:

Overall an excellent set by Wim and one of the best titles to cover pressure passing that I've so far studied.

In this title, Wim shows how to defend and escape when your back is taken mostly through using his Babybridge, Inside Shoulder and Fireman's Escape system. He also covers guard passing using related principles. All the techniques are framed by Wim's idea of offensive defence - the idea that you can defend and escape in a more proactively attacking way (as opposed to just escaping and hoping you can re-start from guard or neutral).

So escaping back position is an interesting topic. The vast majority of BJJ students, myself included, would view this as an awful position to be in and the main objective would be to survive, deny a submission and try as best to get the hell out of there.

But Wim's theories alter that perception. He views being caught in back control as no more vulnerable than being caught inside someone's closed guard, except of course you are rotated 180. With that thought in mind, he asserts that you can proceed to 'pass the guard' from back control and improve position - that's a radically far cry from the usual get-me-out-of-here approach. Wim provides a number of tools with which to make such an escape possible.

One of the main tools he teaches is inside shoulder escape and outside shoulder escape (aka babybridge). If you've watched his first Fanatics title (Intro to TMP) then a familiar pattern occurs when executing these moves. I personally found these chapters on disc 2 to be very effective - and it compliments perfectly with Priit's Hidden Posture title too. Both titles use the same principles for escapes, but offer slightly different details on doing so.

This small detail (trapping attacker's leg) makes a huge difference to how well you can escape from back control. With his leg jammed, his hips are also trapped and he can't pivot or move around you while you escape)

Demonstrating the inside shoulder escape from back control

Using the babybridge (or outside shoulder escape) - notice Wim is still cupping uke's lower leg (see photo above)

Tugging at the opponent's feet is surprisingly very effective to prevent meaningful attacks from the seatbelt grip back position.

So far, so good. Where things start to get interesting is when Wim covers the Fireman's Escape (insert your arm between uke's leg and your body - similar in position to the wrestler's Fireman's Carry). This approach gives you access to come up on top of your uke and, in theory, begin passing his guard. It's a very wrestling looking move and you'll need to open up a bit doing baby bridging and regular bridging for it to succeed and there are lots of things to be wary of, especially where you put your arms and hands, but it's certainly capable for a student of any level to do.

Screen snapshots showing 4 stages of Wim's 'Fireman's Escape' system. Note where he places his right arm. the system allows you to treat back control just as you would trying to pass guard.

Wim also calls the Fireman's Escape the Table-Turner technique. Here's a video summarising the concept:

The final volume in this four-part title is, I would suggest, fairly advanced - it uses the principle of the fireman's escape to bait your opponent to try and take your back, when they do so, what you actually are doing is setting up the Fireman's Escape, which as outlined above, is a guard passing manoeuvre. I haven't tried this in my own training so I will update the review when I see how well I can apply it. 

End game finishers looks at ensuring your hard-won positional advantage is completed with a successful submission. Wim explains that he always teaches his students the submission first and then works backwards, which is an interesting reversal of the orthodox methods of teaching BJJ. The idea here is that with so many routes to the end-game scenario, it can get very complex especially for new students to try to remember them all. By teaching the end-game submission first, it arms the student with something tangible to practice and study. Then, little by little the student can unravel the myriad ways to get there.

It's all great information but for me, since I like playing closed guard, I found volume three the most interesting, with a couple of tasty techniques like the one below:

High closed guard - fist choke & armbar double threat. Very effective!

Another interesting segment is the chapter on The Problem with the Triangle. Here, Wim shows why the orthodox triangle might be vulnerable to guard passing - a reference to his own 'King's Gambit' move mentioned previously. He then goes on to show how he likes to use the triangle from guard and avoid such problems. 

Overall this title is useful if, despite getting to good positions, you still have trouble finishing submissions. It's also useful if you like training from EBI overtime positions: the back control and the spider web.


I have not bought or viewed anything from this title because (a) I have no interest in self defence BJJ and (b) defence is spelt incorrectly*. I'm mentioning it here because this title completes the set of five Mirroring Principle titles by Wim on BJJ Fanatics. Looking at the chapter listing I am sure it offers a lot of very sensible and real world advice from someone who knows what they're talking about.

This is Wim's most recently released title and I'm still ploughing through it so this review will only be a snapshot.

This is potentially Wim's best work for an offensive game. The opening chapters cover nearly all the basic core postures and techniques that he has shown in the previous Mirroring Principle titles, with added updates on them too (for example he begins to call the inside shoulder escape The Hawkins, presumably to align with Priit's common use of the term 'Hawking'.). 

You can definitely consider this title an advanced version of his Pressure Passing title. Wim goes into a lot more detail regarding his King's Gambit technique - which is essentially a bait for the opponent to execute a triangle from guard. Once the triangle is attempted, Wim's stacking and pressure passing principles come into play and the bottom person is made to suffer! that being said, given that he recaps and updates all of the basic postures and concepts from previous titles, if you only get one Wim Deputter title, this might be ideal for you

It's not all top game crusher techs, there's a final chapter on how to defeat The King's Gambit - wich shows Wim's personal method of using the triangle choke. In this scenario he not only shows how to avoid being stacked, he also shows how his legs act as a frame to then set up his triangle attack. The end result has Wim aligned completely transverse to the direction of his attacker (not too dissimilar to how Ryan Hall teaches the triangle, except Wim strongly warns against underhooking the opponent's leg.)

Wim produces a lot of free content on his own youtube channel. They're all very interesting and in addition to the ones I have mentioned above the multi-part series titled BJJ Longevity makes for very educational viewing.

Wim Deputter is one of the bright minds of BJJ conceptual content. He is adept at breaking apart established techniques, sourcing from other disciplines such as wrestling and MMA and seeing if he can improve on established habits and methods. The results are sometimes quite novel ideas that take a little time to get used to...old habits are hard to break!

Shrimping for example is a case in point. Wim doesn't think it's very useful - he shows why and then he shows much more effective systems - in this case inside and outside shoulder escaping. Another radical concept is to treat being in back control just like being caught in closed guard. There are loads of these less orthodox ideas - all accessible via his Youtube channel or explained in greater depth on his BJJ Fanatics titles and Globetrotter in Action seminars.

I see great value in a lot of his content and they've really helped me improve and advance my game - especially his back escape system and his pressure passing tips. I do have a few minor criticisms: his Mirroring Principle concept is at best a useful mental note but not exactly a ground breaking concept as the marketing might imply. Another small irritation is that on some of his BJJ Fanatics titles he and his demo partner appear not to be on the same wavelength when demonstrating techniques. Perhaps a bit of rehearsal or communication prior to filming each segment would help - all the moving and re-positioning needed between the pair is time wasting and visually irritating. Minor quibbles aside, I'm really surprised Wim Deputter isn't being raved about in BJJ forums as often and as admiringly as more famous instructors such as John Danaher. In my opinion, Wim's content is just as good and offers the genuine ability to make game-changing differences to ones jiu jitsu skillset. 



About the Author


Author & Artist

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



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