Seminar Review - Roy Harris in Middletown, CT

Roy Harris came to Middletown, CT for his annual BJJ seminar this weekend, and WOW!

For anyone living under a rock, Roy Harris is one of the first and highest-ranked American black belts in BJJ. He is known for his mastery of the tiny details, and for articulating abstract concepts and training methods clearly and precisely.

The seminar this weekend was on his new presentation of Guard Passing. At lunch Wednesday, he told me, “You guys are going to love this seminar. I’ve been teaching this new presentation at my academy, and there’s definitely a period of adjustment as you get used to thinking of passing in a new way. But once you get used to it…..passing is really easy.” Sure, some people are thinking this is just hype and internet babble. He was not joking. He was not exaggerating.

26 people gathered at MSDC for the seminar. On Saturday, he began with 2 basic passes (Under the Leg aka smash pass and Over the Leg aka cutacross pass), and 2 basic variations. He broke those down into their tiniest movements and components to make sure everyone was starting on the same page. Attendees ranged from brand new white belts to black belts, and everyone was learning new nuances and refining their basic passes. From there, we started on the new task: 14 new positions to learn within the guard passes. He described these positions as “safehouses” where you can wait for up to 2-3 minutes in relative safety while passing.

Editorial: why would you wait? This was actually a point of discussion. First of all, you might do this to practice and drill the positions. But you might also do it when working with a spazzy newb, as a way of letting them tire. Would you do this in competition or against people with more experience? I hope not.

So the 14 positions were broken down into 7 from Open Guard and 7 from Closed Guard. Mr. Harris taught the first 4 Open Guard Positions on Saturday, showing how to move slowly and methodically from one to the next as needed, progressively taking away space and moving through your partner’s guard. One of them entirely eliminates your partner’s ability to establish De La Riva guard, even with your leg up.

Saturday our post-seminar training and socializing was cut short when smoke started to fill MSDC. It turns out that a fire had started in the space behind ours, so we had to call the Fire Department and evacuate. Fortunately, it was a small blaze and they were able to contain it quickly.

Sunday began with 3 more positions that addressed butterfly guard, scissor half, and one more form of open guard. From there, we went to the 7 positions inside the Closed Guard. Most of them are a “triple dare” to enter the triangle, which feeds right back into the basic under the leg pass we began with (using proper anti-triangle mechanics). Some of them also bait your partner to try to take your back, and then pass when he uncrosses his ankles.

From there, he showed 3 ways to completely shut down the X-guard. When I say “completely shut down”, I’m talking about ONE simple movement that means NO X-GUARD…no sweep, no submissions, no control.

After that, it was 3 passes for the Rubber Guard (2 from Mission Control and one for Crackhead Control). I asked if he could show passes for the Shawn Williams Guard (aka London), and he kindly obliged with 2 more. The day finished with counters to the kimura from guard and guillotine choke from guard, and then lengthy Q&A.

Believe me when I say “IT WAS NOT HYPE! He showed simple, one movement ways of making those guards COMPLETELY useless. It was unbelievable…until you try it and see that it works.”

Congratulations go to a number of folks who were promoted, including 4 of my students:

Jose Pacheco – Purple Belt
Scott Hoffman, Eric Roy, and Ralph Purificato – Blue Belt

Also, Rich Martens of Quebec, Canada had several students test for blue and purple. (I apologize for not having recorded their names. Cedric Cobban received his purple!)

Thanks again to all who attended, and I hope your brains are full. We’ll do it again next August!


 I remember when Roy showed one X-Guard counter at my school last year. I was like: It can´t be that simple.:-)

Genius Roy;-)

Take care


I attended the seminar, and Chris is not embellishing one bit... this seminar was fantastic from start to finish.

Having never met Mr. Harris before, I was astounded at his attention to detail.

I also had the opportunity to witness the Blue Belts test. I was impressed at their technique and their dedication. I also was incredibly impressed with their 'heart', each one of them rolled with Mr. Harris, and upon an initial entry into the game in order to litmus test their skill level, he forced them to try and bridge, elbow knee, and escape against his pressure, and none of them quit...

All in all, amazing weekend in CT. We made the trip up from Erie, PA (about 8 and a half hours away), and it was well worth it.

Chris has a huge facility as well... makes me envious...

Thanks Chris.

does anyone know if roy harris every comes to the southeast?

I don't believe it's on his current ongoing seminar tour list. I know he "pops in" there from time to time...


Roy Harris is the man.

Next year, I'll be headed to Florida to visit one of my black belt instructors and hang out with him. I probably won't teach very much, but I am sure I will enjoy myself in Florida!


Im not surprised. I have been a longtime fan of Roy Harris's instructionals and his teaching methodology as well as his analytical breakdown of positions, moves and concepts.