Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Mastering the Rubber Guard by Eddie Bravo

Most people in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu know who Eddie Bravo is. There's a pretty obvious "love him or hate him" feel around. I'm happy to note, though that I'm one of the less boisterous people who fall into neither category. I just like anyone who can explain a concept to me so that I pick it up. And Eddie does that for me in this book.

A quick word, firstly, on Eddie's first book - 'Jiu-Jitsu Unleashed'. I was going to give it a separate review until I received 'Mastering the Rubber Guard'. 'Jiu Jitsu Unleashed' was a reasonable book until the new one came along. 'Jiu Jitsu Unleashed' is a collection of techniques that Bravo uses in his game. It's got a good collection of anecdotes and shows Eddie's game and how it has come to be quite well. That said, the overlap with 'Mastering the Rubber Guard' is too much to warrant buying both - if you were wondering about that.

In fact, I felt quite disappointed in myself when 'Mastering' turned up. Why? Because I'd paid good money for 'Unleashed' just a couple of months before and this was so much better. Ultimately, though, I got a book that was twice as good, anyway. The exception is tht 'Unleashed' takes a bigger look at the Twister and Eddie's top game. Hold on, though. Victory Belt (the publishers) have 'Mastering the Twister' on the horizon.

Like 'Unleashed', 'Mastering' covers the main areas of Bravo's game. There are sections on the half guard and, obviously, the rubber guard. This time, however,we get sections on the butterfly guard, recovering the guard, Bravo's "Spider Web" control and a section on stretching.

Kudos to Bravo for realising not everyone has his flexibility and that they need to develop that attribute to make all the techniques work. Putting my S&C coach hat on (especially with my knees), I shake my head in disapproval of some of the stretches. Still, it's what Bravo does and they are all applicable to his game and the book. Just exercise some critical thinking. If you're in the group the stretches are likely to injure - don't do them.

I'm not going to get into details of the moves. What I am going to say is that they work for Bravo and his guys. They work for a lot of others, too. They might even work for you. The technique names have always been a bone of contention for some, too. Bravo is quick to explain that the names are devloped for coaching in competitions, so the opponent doesn't understand advice being given. I do the same thing with my guys to a large extent.

The book flows well, with a strategy for each position and a series of ideas to help achieve the techniques. For example, the "Whip Up" has been a bit of a boon for my half guard, depite it not being a technique, per se.

The book also contains a flow chart to help guide you through the Rubber Guard game. I've beeen flow charting for a couple of years now and can attest to the improvement and insights it gives you. Eddie gives you his own, personal flowchart.

I'm never going to use Eddie's whole game. I'm 6'7" and weigh the best part of 300 inflexible pounds. I bought the book to help my students and training partners. I've been pleasantly surprised to take some techniques and insights away, along with a better understanding of the 10th Planet system.

Insofar as production, it's good. It's colourful with good quality stock. Photographs are clear and plentiful. Since I'm a bit anal, I picked up some spelling and grammar errors and I hope they'll be picked up with better editing in future Victory Belt productions. But, ultimately, it's content I care about and this book has plenty of it.

Victory Belt's 'Mastering the Rubber Guard' Page

After giving this review to a couple of friends to look over for me, one pointed out the obvious philosophical differences between Eddie and myself and expressed surprise I'd give such a flattering review. Especially due to the drug references.

Let me say this..... Some of the language in the anecdotes is foreign to me and I find some analogies a little trite. I have never taken any illicit drug, including marijuana and am strictly anti-drug.

If you can't put these things behind you and they stand in the way of you buying the book, then too bad. You'll miss out on some quality instruction.

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