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

How Do I Know When To Tap?

Isn’t that obvious you say?  When it hurts, tap!  Apparently it isn’t that clear to everyone.  This Russian model and bodyguard didn’t know when to tap, "Former Russian Model Killed in Carjacking", even though she had Jiu-Jitsu experience.  There are more factors that play into it.  In her case the Porsche was more important then her life.  What are the things that hold me back from tapping?  Pride has to be number one.  I don’t want to be beat.  I have to hold out at least long enough that my opponent doesn’t think I’m a push over.  Those are the kinds of things I tell myself.  I tore my MCL because of that kind of thinking.  I changed my philosophy after that to "In a war there are lost battles even on the victors side".  I live to fight another day now.  I try to make each battle an accumulative learning experience, win or lose.  I feel I’m winning the war on most fronts now.  But it is far from over.  I have often wondered why Helio Gracie refused to tap when he said a technique was not "good technique".  I understand that Helio passed out in his fight against Kimura because Kimura was squeezing his ribs and stopping his lungs from expanding.  What about when Kimura broke his arm?  So I will end this post with this thought, tap when a technique is effective or accept the consequences.

Blue to Purple One BJJ Step at a Time

Tonight was another night of working on purple belt test techniques.  This time we went over the next six techniques for the Pedro Sauer’s Purple Belt test:

  1. Sweep from Seated Guard (BJJ T&T pg. 186)
  2. Overhead Sweep (BJJ T&T pg. 188 or 238)
  3. Leg Pinching Sweep (BJJ T&T pg. 190)
  4. Scissor Sweep Standing from Guard (BJJ T&T pg. 226)
  5. Hook Sweep from Guard (BJJ T&T pg. 228)
  6. Kick over Sweep (Balloon) (BJJ T&T pg. 188)

Yesterday we went over the first six and I posted them.  Like I said before they are documented in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Theory and Technique (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu series) by Renzo and Royler Gracie.

I had a great time sweeping people over my head.  I have to say that sweeps are my favorite.  Submissions are cool too don’t get me wrong but a well executed sweeps saps moral or the spirit of the other guy.  He just went from equal or in control to flip side.

Rolling was good too.  We lined up and would rotate the line every 2 minutes.  This gives you a great opportunity to try yourself against everyone.  It also keeps the action going.  I was admirable tonight.  I didn’t tap anyone that was higher then me but then again I didn’t get tapped.  I’ll settle for a stalemate against a purple belt right now.

You Win Some and You Lose Some

BJJ practice went well tonight.  We broke up into whites and blues.  The whites went over the blue belt test and the blues went over the purple belt test.  We are a Pedro Sauer’s affiliated school.  I was surprised that I knew the six techniques we went over as well as I did.  We went over:

  1. Double Ankle Grab Sweep (BJJ T&T pg. 74)
  2. Both Hands on Ankle Sweep to Armlock (BJJ T&T pg. 78)
  3. Push Sweep From Scissors (BJJ T&T pg. 80)
  4. Handstand Sweep (BJJ T&T pg. 144)
  5. Arm Inside Sweep (BJJ T&T pg. 160)
  6. Arm Inside Sweep to Arm Bar (BJJ T&T pg. 162)

These are all in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: Theory and Technique (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu series) by Renzo and Royler Gracie.  I have documented the page numbers in the book next to each technique.  I highly recommend the book.  It has most of the basic techniques you will need to get a blue or purple belt.

After that we did some training from the guard.  The object was for the guy on the bottom to get a sweep and the guy on top to get the pass.  I tried out a number of sweeps and managed to kept from getting passed.  It felt great to get may favorite Spider Guard Sweep.

We then did our usual rolling session to close out the class.  I made some mistakes.  First of all I let a guillotine get away from me only to have it reversed onto me.  Inside my head my mind was screaming for me to throw my arm over his should for the escape but my body just wouldn’t respond.  I think I was to preoccupied with the coke.  The next roll was with one of your blues who should be going purple soon.  I held my own for a good while and escaped one arm bar before succumbing to a second.  I had him in a leg bind at one point and was thinking of a Machado leg bar I had been reading about but wasn’t able to pull it off.  All in all it was a good night.  I won some and I lost some.

Finding a First Sports Hero in BJJ

When I was growing up I didn’t pay that much attention to sports.  The first real figure I remember was Robby Bosco who played quarterback for BYU.  I only thought he was cool because he autographed a piece of paper for me and my Dad seemed to think he was cool.  As I grew up I liked figures like Michele Jordan but felt they didn’t have all the qualities I wanted in a sports hero.  I’m 39 now and thought myself far passed idolizing a sports hero until Rigan Machado came along.  I’m not saying I’m sold yet.  He is holding a seminar in Utah on March 6th (January 30th Seminar was moved).  I’m going to it of course.  I’ve got to meet him in person.  I’ve read and heard so many first hand accounts about him.  I want to see if he is as humble and great as they say.  To often people who are in the spotlight get mauled with affection and more, hence the paparazzi.  They become mean and in my opinion with good reason.  Some become spoiled and arrogant.  Its kind of like that old saying "Total power totally corrupts".  All that attention and fawning changes them for the worst.  I hope to find out that Rigan Machado is everything he has been made out to be.  If so, I think I just found my first sports hero in BJJ and Rigan Machado.

Steps to Memorizing a BJJ Technique For Mastery

I see new techniques every time I go to class.  Some really impress me and I remember them.  Some impress me and I forget them.  I’ve been looking for a way to commit them to memory so that I can work to master them.  But how should I go about it?  In John B. Will’s book "Rogue Black Belt – Book Two" he gives his method in 4 steps.  He says:

  1. "I pay very close attention"
  2. "I begin to develop understanding"
  3. "I practice it"
  4. "I’ve always taken notes"

Part of my problem is that I roll at the end of class and then drive home.  Some thing always distracts me and I don’t get that nights class into my BJJ Journal.  A day or so later I remember and try to write down what happened.  I forget or lose a lot of the details.  I am also a visual learner and my text descriptions don’t do the techniques justice.  I have thought about getting a video of each method after class and creating a video journal.  I noticed that my instructors BJJ Journal has excellent drawing of "crash dummy" type figures doing the moves.  That would require me to get some art skills.  What do you do to help memorize or internalize BJJ techniques you want to learn?

The Biggest Loser and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu

I like to say often that Jiu-Jitsu is Life and Life is Jiu-Jitsu.  Its true.  It is integrated into my life.  I find applications for it in many aspects of my life other then self defense and sport.  That is just one of the reasons I love it so much.  Last nights class went well.  I set a few goals for my self to focus on and I met about half of them.  I even got my new favorite sweep, the Balloon sweep.  It was on a white belt but none the less enjoyable.  I tapped out a fellow blue belt, that had surprised me last class with a guard pass, with a Triangle Choke as repayment.  I felt good after class and came away with points to improve on.  After I got home I was getting cleaned up and putting my gi in the wash when I stopped to see the TV program my wife was watching.  It was the last few minutes of The Biggest Loser.  They were going to show the interview of the last person kicked off.  I always like to see the success they have and stopped to watch.  To my surprise the guy hadn’t been able to do the gym.  He said it wasn’t "clicking" for him.  He had come to a realization he needed a life style change. He opted to start martial arts.  They showed him walking into a school with a large billboard that read "Gracie Jiu Jitsu".  I was excited to see BJJ on TV.  I couldn’t think of a better life style change.  I was sure they would show him grappling.  In stead they only showed him doing Muay Thai.  I was stunned.  At the very end under his picture it said he was training in Jiu-Jitsu for his first belt.  Why then didn’t they show him doing Jiu-Jitsu instead of Muay Thai?  What ever the case I was glad to see that BJJ was changing another life for good.  I hope he continues and experiences the catharsis I have from BJJ.

Wait For It! Wait For It! Choke and the Tap!

When I roll against guys who have more skill then me it seems like I have the advantage at the start.  I even seem to be winning for a while.  But then the tables turn and everything goes down hill.  Soon after the down turn I’m tapping.  At class last night I got to be on the other side of the equation.  I was rolling with one of our white belts, who might be up for his blue belt soon.  It didn’t start out so hot for me and I was mounted.  I remained calm and kept working my escapes and things changed.  He managed to keep the upper hand for what seemed like a long time.  I kept working my escapes and transitions.  In time I gained side control and then it went all down hill for him.  I noticed he was exhausted.  I realized I had expended less energy and had waited him out.  As he tired he retired, you might say.  With more energy and the upper hand I moved from cross body or side control to mount.  I latched on to his legs with "grape vines" and based out to ride out what I thought would be a strong attempt at escape.  It didn’t come.  I quickly moved up and took position under his arm pits and began my attack.  It didn’t take long before I got a choke in and he tapped.  I felt like a fortress that had ridden out the siege.  I got a good insight into how my technique has evolved.  If my fortress or technique had been weak his relentless assault would have broken through.  I didn’t go for the submission right off.  I waited for the opening and then took it, while all the while saving up for it.  I wish I had it all on video.  I don’t think I’ve gleamed half of what I can from it.  I’ll be pondering it for a good while.

Book Review of Rogue Black Belt – Book Two By John B. Will

A little while back I did a review on John B. Will’s Book "Rogue Black Belt – Book One".  I have since got "Rogue Black Belt – Book Two" and read it.  Mr. Will picks up were he left off in book one and keeps moving on at a amazing pace.  I know that this books spans years but it feels like it happens in a few months.  Any one who goes to  Mr. Will’s website knows he teaches Machado BJJ.  In book two we learn all about how he got started.  If you are a Aussie and want to know how BJJ came to Australia you need to read this book.  It is a important history also of the rise of BJJ in America.  Mr. Will has a first hand account concerning important events in the lives of Rorion Gracie and Rigan Machado.  He meet Renzo Gracie when he was a brown belt and talks about time spent with the Gracies and their cousins the Machados, in Brazil.  I was very interested in their training practices and philosophies at the time Mr. Will was introduced to BJJ.  As before the book is packed with practical advice and life lessons Mr. Will learned along the way.  It made me long to back my bags move to Brazil and train.  Its a great book.  You will enjoy reading it if you are a fan of any martial art.

Four Steps to Obtainable Goals For BJJ

Did you set yourself resolutions at the beginning of the New Year?  Have you already fallen off the wagon?  Martin Rooney, a combat athlete trainer and author of Training for Warriors: The Ultimate Mixed Martial Arts Workout was interview on TheFightWorksPodCast.com.  He gave four steps for creating obtainable goals.

  1. Write them down.
  2. Set a time period.
  3. Be realistic. (You won’t make black belt in one year)
  4. Publish your goals.

I blogged about mine (written and published).  I think they are realistic.    But I forgot something very important.  I didn’t set dates to accomplish them.  I guess I’m going to have to reassess them.  I like Mr. Rooney’s analogy about driving.  You don’t go for a dive without a destination.  Why set a goal without a direction.  He gave another about three frogs on a log.  Two of the frog decide to jump off.  How many frogs are on the long?  It stumped Caleb, who was doing the interview.  Did it you?  The answer is 3.  Deciding isn’t the same as doing.  Mr. Rooney’s point was too many of us decide on a good course of action but never do it.  I think I’m guilty of that.  With a open ended time period I’ve got a the rest of my life time to meet my goals.  I’ll post the revised list with the time schedules.  Then I won’t end up being a frog on a log come January 2011.