Saturday, May 05, 2007

Sambo MMA Leg Attacks - Scott Sonnon

Firstly, let me explain that this DVD was generously supplied to me by Coach Sonnon to review. I had wanted to review his earlier work ‘Immovable Object Unstoppable Force’ - a video set I consider to be extremely valuable. However, Scott preferred I review a newer incarnation of his work and sent me ‘Sambo MMA Leg Attacks’, a part of the RMAX Master Series.

It was a bold move. Scott knew my review of IOUF would have been a favourable one, since I had told him how valuable I had found it. ‘Leg Attacks’ is a different format and has a different focus, so there was a significant risk the review wouldn’t turn out as positive as it could have. I think this shows Coach Sonnon believes in his product and the current incarnation of his teaching.

I have observed Sonnon and RMAX for a number of years, now. I have picked at the products, taking what I thought was of value and leaving behind the things I viewed as superfluous. Over time, Coach Sonnon seems to have streamlined the RMAX catalogue and dramatically reduced the amount of complexity and simplified his processes. This is the incarnation I refer to above.

‘Leg Attacks’ covers much of the useful mechanics I had seen in ‘Arthrokinetics’ and ‘IOUF’, but does so with less “manufactured terminology” (Sonnon’s own term) and less actual information. Instead, the information is streamlined and concentrates on a smaller amount of information that produces a greater advantage. This makes the information easier to digest and assimilate.

I wasn’t sure about the seminar format of the video, either. I have been used to seeing Coach Sonnon delivering information in the standard studio methodology and wasn’t sure the reduced production associated with seminar formats would work to deliver the level of detail I was used to seeing.

However, I was pleasantly surprised. I think the seminar format helps a guy like Scott. At a seminar, the instructor gets instant feedback as to whether the information is understandable. If there are blank, glassy stares, then he’d better change tack. The studio productions don’t have this benefit, hence sometimes can get verbose and complex.

I think this helps the streamlining of the product mentioned above, too

The other difference with ‘Leg Attacks’ is the focus. I consider myself to be a leg lock guy. Leg attacks were the only submissions I knew when I first came to BJJ and were all the submissions I got for the first couple of years of training. I’ve seen just about every video on leg locks on the market. However, I was soon to discover this isn’t really about leg locks.

I thought it unusual that Sonnon and RMAX would bring out a DVD with such a closed focus as to concentrate on one aspect of the game. I was right. The DVD covers leg locks, but it’s not what the video is about. It’s about Sambo’s “leg to leg” attacks. Or, as Scott often puts it “Lunar to Lunar” attacks. He refers to using your lower body against your opponent’s and explains the differences in philosophy in simple terms.

The DVD is focused on “leg to leg” attacks but is also focused on one element of martial art. Specifically, leg attacks in the MMA arena against other experienced martial artist. Sonnon explains that sport grappling techniques can be complicated and beautiful, but not always practical in MMA. Just as techniques that work in a street attack may not in the ring against another martial artist.

Sonnon, with the help of RMAX coach Ryan Murdock shows the mechanics of various leg locks. I’ll guarantee that, if you’re not infinitely familiar with Sonnon’s work and don't have a high level in Sambo, you’ll get something out of this section. Without getting into too much detail, the mechanics covered for the heel hook, knee bar and figure four are worth the price of the whole DVD. You might never call the figure four a toehold again.

Scott and Ryan go on to discuss fluid drills, a series of techniques strung together based on the opponent’s movement. You’ve most likely done this before, but I’d guess with a more technique-based approach. The RMAX coaches use a more movement-based focus. This makes for a more flowing drill and an easier time catching the actual submission.

After some helpful drills in the ‘Body Flow’ vein, Sonnon moves into takedowns, guard passes, turtle attacks and their follow-ups. None of the discussions are based around techniques, per se, but around the movements that contribute to the finish.

There is a bonus disk sold with “Leg Attacks”. It contains a “RMAX Powered” Boxing and Judo seminar. In the Judo seminar is conducted by Ryan Murdock and covers application of some of the “Leg Attacks” material for the Judo athlete. That means it isn’t really for competition Judo. I couldn’t really get into the boxing seminar, but I’ll give it another shot later.

There are a lot of positives to the DVD. There are a couple of negatives, though. Firstly, using a seminar format means less scripting and more editing. The segments aren’t grouped as well as they could have been in a studio setting, but the improvement in communication is worth it. Also, the production of the bonus disk is average, at best. But the information is sound and it is called a “guerrilla” production, afterall.

All in all, after initial reservations about the content and format, I quite enjoyed this DVD. It’s easier to understand than Scott’s earlier works and is more up to date. As an added bonus, you get to see less experienced practitioners performing the skills. Therefore, you’ll get to see you’re not the only one who “has to start somewhere”.

Purchase it at BudoVideos


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great review, Chris!

I appreciate your feedback!

Best regards,
Scott Sonnon

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!