Book Review: Drill to Win: 12 Months to Better Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by Andre Galvao

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At long last it has arrived.  I’ve had Andre Galvao’s book Drill to Win: 12 Months to Better Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu on pre-order for what seems like eternity.  Just when I thought it would ship the publisher would move the date.  Finally the day came and now I have it in my hot little hands!

The first thing I noticed as I opened the package is the size of the book and the color.  Its huge and bright.  I wasn’t surprised when I opened it to see that it was well illustrated. 

The table of contents groups the drills by month, week, and then day.  Each week has a subtitle that explains the goal of that weeks drills.  For example: Month 5, Week 4 is dedicated to Turtle Escape drills.  This is very handy if you just want to find some drills specific to something you are working on.

The book takes into account diet too.  Month 1 is devoted just to that.  It makes sense considering that a well oiled machine is going to perform its best.  So for all of us who are slacking on the diet or just not eating right Andre gives us a good solid base line to get our motors revving.  Month 12 is the "Final Exam".  It is really a create-your-own-drill-routine-from-what-you-have-learned month.  It spans one page and has some FAQ’s.  So really, there are 10 months with a new drill each day.  That is more then enough drills for me.

I noticed that there are a few things required to do all the drills.  They are, a swiss ball, balance board, and partner.  Don’t worry there are solo drills galore!  It looks like you are doing solo drills until about Month 4.  By then you should have improved agility and be ready for the throwing and pulling guard that make up Month 4.  I think the book is well organize by the fact you don’t start throwing and pulling guard until you have a little better skill.

The pictures of each drill are step by step and are sized well.  I am a visual learner and would prefer a video but Andre’s progression is good along with the text explanation.  I’m sure if the book is as great a success as I think it will be the video’s will follow.  All in all, I am very impressed and excited to start my year of drills.  I think Drill to Win is going to be a new standard that every BJJ practitioner will want.  Andre you rock!

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

“Mountain and Sea” Changing in BJJ

The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi

As I continue to explore The Book of Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi I find things I want to share related to BJJ. 

"’Mountain and sea’ means that is is bad to do the same thing over and over again.  You may have to repeat something once, but it should not be done a third time.

When you try something on an opponent, if it does not work the first time, you will not get any benefit out of rushing to do it again.  Change your tactics abruptly, doing something completely different.  If that still does not work, then try something else.

Thus the science of martial arts involves the presence of mind to act as the sea when the enemy is like a mountain, and act as a mountain when the enemy is like a sea.  This requires careful reflection." – The Book of Five Rings, Fire Scroll.

In BJJ if you stubbornly continue to try to get a submission that isn’t there you end up wasting energy and most likely losing any advantage you have.  I have been guilty of hanging on to a choke that I know isn’t going to work in hopes that some how I would pull it off.  Musashi’s advice is very poignant.  It kind of reminds me of a long hall way of doors.  If the first one is locked you move on to the next.  The faster you are and more you try the sooner you will find one that is open.  As I internalize more techniques I have more doors.  As my skills increase I can move between them faster.

Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu

Book Review of “Rogue Black Belt – Book One” by John B. Will

Most of the books I read are technical in nature.  After reading excerpts from John B. Will’s "Rogue Black Belt – Book One" I decided to order "Book One" and see what came of it.  I like to read.  Every now and then I come across a book I just can’t put down until I finish it.  "Rogue Black Belt – Book One" is one of those books.  I just ordered "Book Two" and I will pick up "Book Three" as soon as it is ready.

What did I like about John’s book?  First of all he speaks from first hand experience.  This isn’t fiction he is writing, it is the unadulterated truth from his experiences.  John shares tales of his life, martial arts quest across Australia and Indonesia, street fights, and life lessons he learned along the way.  He uses Aussie vernacular to describe things that give his book a unique literary flavor.  By the time I had finished reading it (midnight of the night it arrived).  I admired his adventurous spirit, adaptability, and dedication.  I got a taste of what it would be like to be the one warrior in one hundred that he talks about in his book.  I recommend this book to anyone who wants to take their martial art skill above a sport level.  Street fighting as John points out is a different beast.  It isn’t the controlled sparring in the dojo.  I practice BJJ and love it.  I plan on re-reading John’s book and incorporating it into my mental training.  Thank you John for your candor and truth even when you were ashamed.

My Knee Injury and the Road to Recovery

I tore my MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament) on my left knee on March 9, 2009 while practicing take-downs at my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class.  It was the Monday night class.  We had done our warm-ups and had just got started.  This wasn’t the first time this had happened to me.  About 7 years ago I tore something in the same knee far worse while playing indoor soccer.  I had a good idea of what to start doing right off.

  1. Rest
  2. Ice
  3. Elevation
  4. Compression

R.I.C.E is the acronym and it has helped me remember it throughout the years.  I think my first aid has made all the difference in my recovery time.  I started by stacking pillows up to put my leg on, wrapping the knee with a ACE Bandage and putting ice on it.  I also took some ibuprofen for the pain and to help get the swelling down.  After about 3 days the swelling went down.  I was on my back nearly the whole time.

It has been a month this Monday since the knee injury.  I can walk but my knee doesn’t want to bend beyond 90 degrees.  If I leave my knee bent or straight for too long it is hard to get it out of that position.  It is as if there is fluid in the knee and it needs time to push it to some other location.  Last night my left leg was stiff from lack of use and I flexed it in my sleep.  Oh, mama!  That hurt.  This morning my wife suggested I lay on my back and do a peddling motion.  It worked great!  The peddling motion got a nice burn in my leg muscles and I was even able to get my knee to bend beyond 90 degrees.  I’m going to do it throughout the day to help increase my flexibility and exercise the muscles without causing greater injury.

I have purchased a book to help me called Treat Your Own Knees – Simple exercises to build strength, flexibility, responsiveness, and endurance.  I will let you know how it helps in my recovery.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Beginners Books

I’m a beginner to Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  I started Nov. 2008.  I was swamped with the many names of moves, techniques, holds, bars, chokes, sweeps, and the like.  I got a list of what was required for belt advancement or testing.  I then began to map them to pages in common books put out by Renzo Gracie and Royler Gracie.  The most common one that I use is:

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Theory and Technique (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu series)

As I am taught a new hold, arm bar, or technique I look it up on the belt testing list I have and then I find it in my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Theory and Technique book.  I add the page number to the list.  Its making it easier to remember what I’ve done and what the name is that goes with it.  I try to walk through the list now and again to help refresh myself.  I feel it is helping me advance faster.