seminars, videos, books

It seems there alot of people on this forum attend tons of seminars, buy tons of videos/dvds and own all the bjj books on the market. I have a question for you guys. I'm an advanced blue belt and I feel that most of the collecting of "techniques" ended as I was approaching intermediate blue and by then you start to develop your own game. What I mean is, you fall back on your bread and butter moves, combinations, and strategies all the time. As you advance, u just get better at those moves. You just have to watch the top bjjers as purple belts and then as black belts to see them using the same techniques (a point lloyrd Irvin hit on)

Having your "game" in mind, how do you approach seminars,dvds, and books? I for one am not naive enough to think that I can get Marcello's dvds and grapple like him. Or get Machado's book and do what he does. Its similar to saying that I get Lance Armstrong's Cycling technique and conditioning book and winning the Tour De France.

I watch the few instructionals I have and pick out only the handful of strategies, tips, and techniques that fit into my game and I discard the rest (usually a very small percentage of a set). Do some of you completely abandon your personal game you are working on and try to copy the instructors' on these tapes/seminars/books?

I ask this because I instruct beginners and if they own a machado book, all of a sudden they think they are him. Trying to pull off moves that Jean Jacque often does and it doesn't fit their attributes and body type. I'm teaching them the basic arm bar to the triangle and basic passes and instead they're getting fancy . . . I'm just frustrated.


I think we're probably at about the same skill level.

For the most part I agree. I want to work MY game. When I watch tapes/go to a seminar, the only things I remember/bother with are the things that fit into my game.

That said, the reason I want to work MY GAME is that it's just that - an entire game. With setups and follow ups. Unfortunately, most tapes just show moves based on position - "Here are ten moves from closed guard" or "Here are six sweeps from half". What they lack, is the connection between the two.

It's funny you mention garcia in the way you do. I got his dvds, and they are not just moves from a specific position, they are entire games. And I've actually found that I HAVE been pulling some of the shit off right away, on guys my skill level and better.

Now, I only look for instruction (dvds/seminars) from people who teach in this manner. Garcia is one. I'm told leverton is another. I attended an eddie bravo seminar, and will DEFNITELY be getting his dvds as well.



Those are really good posts. I know what you mean bonton, I don't like seminars/dvds/books that are just a collection of techniques.

Knee, you're right about the philosophy part. For the most part, techniques aren't new. Bonton hit on that in one of his posts. Its the way they put their moves together and the little variations they thought of. I'm amazed when I watch Rickson. He passes guard, gets mount, and collar choke. These are the very basics I learned in my first five lessons of instruction, but he's is incredibly aggressive and tight.

Excellent posts, guys.

I want the seminar to spark an idea. An "AHA!". If I get ONE "AHA!" from the seminar, I'm a happy man. If I get more, I come on here and rave about it. If I show up to the seminar and see variations of the same ol' thing (armlock from the guard, basic sweeps, fancy subs), I will never attend that person's seminar again.

Not including my instructor who makes me go "AHA" every week, the seminars that have done that for me are (not in any order):

- Marcio Corleta - The info was so logical and useful. He had tips on improving every little detail of the positions he was showing. Even simple things that the purples and browns would take for granted were shown in a whole new light. His seminar made a big difference in my game. He will be back for the Pan-Ams next month so I am hoping for the chance to work out with him again.

- Mike Jen - With Mike, you go into the seminar with your eyes wide open knowing what will be covered and how it is going to benefit you. If he says it is a closed guard seminar, for example, don't expect him to show you 10 different unrelated moves in the closed guard. Instead, you will find that he will talk about principles that make for an effective closed guard. When you know those principles, you are better able to execute any technique you learn elsewhere.

- Marcelo Alonso - The guy is truly an encyclopedia of technique. Ask him a question about a position and he will give you about 8 or 9 logical options, any of which will work. Awesome instructor.

I also have to mention Gustavo Machado. He gave a seminar in our area about a month and a half ago that just focussed on some very specific areas. It was great stuff and was presented really well.


Without compromising his ability to hold seminars, can you give an example (or ten) of what you're referring to from Corletta?



Here is a small example, but I'll post more when I get back from lunch:

He asked half the class to put their partners in the guard. The class had whites, blues, purples and I think a brown or two.

He told us that there was a better way to hold the closed guard (in other words, we all had such a basic thing wrong and he was putting it in more polite terms).

Everyone had their legs crossed around their opponents and hips resting on the mat. He told us to try to drop our heels all the way to the mat behind our opponents and to keep our butts off the ground and get cinched up as tight on our partners as we could. The partners could feel the difference immediately.

This allowed for two benefits:

1) There was MUCH less space for the partner to try to pry your legs open - he feels really crowded.

2) Your hips are higher up and have less distance to travel when you want to attack. Basically, you arent lifting your fat ass off the ground, you are having your opponent support the weight on his thighs instead.

Nice! ttt for more.

Andre: Are you basically talking about closing your legs high up, just under the armpits, instead of low around the hips? Or is there more to it?

Knowing this made a big difference in my closed guard game (although currently my open guard is working better against bigger guys). It makes it very hard for your opponent to do the elbow in thigh guard breaker. But it also makes it a bit easier for your opponent to do the knee in tailpipe guard breaker.

Andre - Are you still having lunch?

ttt for more!!!


This guard isnt really high up under the armpits like the one you are referring to. This is down low by the hips, but your ankles are crossed and trying to touch the mat behind him. Your hips are pressed into him and off of the mat.

Now that I am back from lunch (a day later)...

Most of what he taught that day was about controlling distance. More specifically, it was about the kind of tension or pressure you have to keep in your legs to prevent the pass and get leverage to sweep. He explained very clearly how the tension keeping your opponent away was also the mechanism that allowed you to instantly get under him to sweep.

I train with Roy Harris because he is the most technical instructor I've ever worked with. I want to have a slow, tight, technical game, so I follow his advice, because that's what HE has.

I love his seminars and his instructionals, because I know that they will all fit that game. The day Roy shows a move that's pure flash, I'll have a heart attack (or a good laugh, because he'll be kidding).



I mean ttt for more tips, not more details about that one!

Come on man, get it together.

This is where if I were a bit more comfortable with myself, I'd put in some sort of smiling emoticon in to let you know I'm joking.


ttt for more

bounce, I understand your frustration with your students going off and trying all kinds of fancy moves from these sources, and not trying first to master the basics you're trying to stress first. However, I think its also very important to experiment with other learning sources than just your own instructor.

My own instructor and I have vastly different physical attributes. He is over 200lbs. I am a 140lb female. I'm not going to end up getting the same game that he uses to work for me 100%. It was like this even in the beginning of my learning; he plays from top, while I am a guard player. When I go to seminars, watch videos, and read books, just like you said I am looking for just a few potential items to plug holes in my game; not trying to remember or incorporate everything from those sources. I'm also looking to work on particular items I need work on. My instructor can't necessarily spend much class time on the things that I need specifically when he has to consider the needs of many other students as well.

These sources give me the chance to learn things that he doesn't cover in class, but I still find that my primary source of learning comes from him. For example, countless times I've tried a move from a seminar, video, or book in class while rolling, and he's seen me trying to do it. He often watches and then offers suggestions on how to do it differently. Sometimes his suggestions contradict the way I was taught to do something in the seminar/video/book, and other times they just point out things that I wasn't doing correctly. They almost always make it better. I don't even think he realizes that he's helping me with material I saw first in other sources. However, its usually been his continuing suggestions AFTER the seminar/video/book that have helped me incorporate some of these things into part of my game, rather than just the original source itself.

So I think it may be best if you don't try to discourage your students from using these alternate sources, and instead take an active part in helping them use those sources more effectively. It shows above-average interest in the sport on the part of a student if he/she actively seeks out extra knowledge like that. That means that when you spend your time helping that type of student, it isn't as likely to be time wasted on someone who is just going to quit the next week. If you are concerned that your beginner students are ignoring the basics in favor of "flash", I think the best way for you to address this is by making very clear grading requirements that require those basics for stripe or belt promotion.

Tap Me has tapped the correct... nice post.

great post TapMe.

I definately do not discourage them. I just see their minds wandering everywhere when they're grappling, there is no focus. I would rather they work on the basics, the stuff that works, the things that you do EVERYTIME you grapple. They are running before they learned how to walk.


Let me add something along the lines of Tap Me, above.

Instead of discouraging the use of books and videos, encourage it very specifically. What I mean is, make recommendations for specific videos that you know will fit in with what you're teaching. I do this quite a lot and it works very well. It's like a college professor assigning you a text book for his class. I also have recommendations for athletes who ask "What can I do to improve my guard?, How can I get that arm lock to work?," and so on and so forth.

Take advantage of your students' interest by guiding it. Put it to work for you.

- C.