Monday, April 28, 2008

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Basic & Advanced Techniques - Fabio Gurgel

I've seen quite a number of posts on internet message boards about Fabio Gurgel's "latest" contribution to the instructional book market. The reports seemed solid and I seriously considered buying them for myself. So, imagine my delight when I opened a surprise package from Blue Snake Books and found both volumes inside.

Firstly, for those who haven't seen Gurgel's previous series in Portuguese, this is the English translation. I seem to remember the original series being three volumes, though. I'm assuming the volumes have been condensed, but I don't own the Portuguese version to compare.

Both books are a fairly high quality product, which is the norm, mowadays. The bindings are strong and the paper is high quality, as well. Photography is in black and white, but the pictures are clear and plentiful.

The basics book is 156 pages long and and covers just that - the basics. It starts with rolling, the technical standup and hip escape movementsbefore moving straight into self defence. This portion has a great set of fundamentals and doesn't seem dissimilar to what I was taught when I started this lark I don't know how many years ago.

The book continues with a chapter on guard passing, one on sweeps, attacks from side control and then attacks from the mount. It then keeps right on attacking - next from the back and then from the guard.

Chapter nine deals with escapes and chapter ten gives some instruction on takedowns. The chapter on takedowns pleases me because the standing game is a subject that is often overlooked in books about fundamentals.

While I'm on this tack, though, I'm a little disappointed in the lack of discussion on escapes. All the chapters have six or seven techniques to describe and the escapes chapter is no different. I feel, though, a book on basics deserves more work on escapes than this. Especially since headlock escapes aren't covered in the self defence chapter.

The technique selection is good throughout thebook and would serve as a good blueprint for the relative novice.

The advanced book follows the same line as the basics book and even has the same chapter structure. While the techniques are certainly more advanced than the first book, they are still quite fundamental. I think this is a good thing. It clears up some of my concerns with the lack of emphasis on defence and escapes in the first book. Together, the books work better than they do as individual purchases.

The photography and book structure doesn't necessarily lend itself to demonstrating fine details. There are points at which I was wanting more detailed photos especially in the advanced book. The truth is, though, that the details are probably your instructor's job. These books are a guideline for white-belt students, and a good one at that.

If you're after books that show the latest competition techniques, you won't find them here. What you get are 300 odd pages (collectively) of solid basics and a great blueprint for building your game.

If you're relatively new to the sport and have a qualified instructor, this pair of books will help you understand where you're going. Also, if you're a new instructor, the books will give you a good idea of what you should be teaching.

At as little as $14.76 each (that's US dollars, these are among the cheaper books and seem a good buy at that price. I do recommend you purchase these as one big $30 book, though. The information is worth it. So is the novelty value of seeing a young Leo Vieira and Marcelo Garcia being tied up by one of the very few who actually could.

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