Friday, October 24, 2008

Eartbound - Ari Bolden

Like most people who know of him, I was introduced to Ari Bolden's work through the Submissions 101 website. Having seen some of the discussion his site has generated - both positive and negative - I was interested to see the 'Earthbound' DVD when one of my students turned up to class with it.

As is the custom here, I'll run through the DVD's contents and production first.

The DVD seems to be meant as an introduction level grappling video. The techniques shown are conventional ones and are simple, fundamental ones, at that. This surprised me a little because Bolden is a 10th Planet representative and I expected to find some Rubber Guard type stuff on here.

Firstly, I want to say the production is quite good. The menu graphics are very professional and the menus themselves are broken down well - even though I found they behaved a little erratically. That could be my DVD player's fault, however.

The DVD has three sections. They are "Throws & Takedowns", "Positional Dominance" and "Submissions". These are further broken down. The first section contains nine throws and takedowns. They start with the single leg and run through to Ippon Seionage by way of a few others, including something called the "Samurai Throw".

The Positional Dominance section covers five positions with a brief on maintaining the position and a look at one or two techniques to escape it when the shoe is on the other foot. The Submissions section similarly shows five submissions, each with a counter.

I guess this is where I have to critique the content. There has been a lot of negative talk about Bolden and Submissions 101 on the internet message boards. And, unfortunately, I have to agree. I tried to like this DVD. I really did. There are just too many holes.

To start with, I'm going to join the chorus of those criticising the technique Bolden displays and teaches. I'm no black belt myself, so I'm not going to give a detailed examination, but I'll say this. Bolden's teaching (and indeed demonstrations) are not the same as I've been taught and teach myself. The technique is looser than I would like and his explanations lack depth and detail. In fact, some of his explanations are plain hard to follow.

For mine, this isn't really the biggest issue. I'm concerned about the creation of an illusion of competence for impressionable viewers. I started out in Jiu Jitsu learning from videos. Many did. I was lucky I chose videos from reputable people. If I hadn't, I would have learned their mistakes and probably passed them to my students now. Old habits die hard.

Today, there are a lot of good DVDs available. There are few coming out right now that cover the basics well. That's because there are dozens of great ones out there already. Renzo Gracie's early series comes to mind. As does Cesar Gracie's ever popular (and cheap) three DVD set.

Further, the DVD is too short to reasonably impart any real knowledge on the techniques. You can't properly explain intricate techniques in one or two minutes. That's effectively what's going on here.

There is just no reason to buy this DVD. There is better stuff out there. I guess this is like one of those movies with all the hype and no substance. They try to get people throught the front door on opening weekend because they know once word gets out, people will stop coming.

I'm sorry if you're one of those first customers.

If you must get it. Get it here at Budovideos.

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