Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jiu Jitsu University - Saulo Ribeiro

In my last review, I mentioned I'd received an early christmas gift from Victory Belt Publications. Well, it wasn't just the Fedor book I received. I also received Saulo Ribeiro's "Jiu Jitsu University". I didn't review this first since it's already received bulk kudos from just about everyone on the web, but I thought I might add my $1 worth (I'm Australian - that probably amounts to US20c at the moment).

Everyone in Jiu Jitsu is interested in details and I spotted the first one before I opened the book. A lot of these type of books have colour coded edges so you can easily index to a section. Since this book is divided into belt sections, the colour coded edges are made in the style of BJJ belts. It's a nice touch.

The book itself is made of the same high quality binding Victory Belt and all the other good publishers are using now. It is 368 pages long and has six to ten photos per page. In my last two Victory Belt reviews, I've criticised the photos. There's no need to here. The kimonos are clear in white & blue and the mats are green which contrasts the models well.

The photos also show the inherent details of the technique correctly. This was another criticism I'v had with other books, where the timing of the photgraphy is just a little bit off. Victory Belt has told me they're using new techniques now and it shows.

As mentioned above, the book is divided into belt sections. The white belt section is simply titled "Survival" and consists of six sections where Saulo describes the postures and strategies the novice needs to get by. I think this is a great feature. While I've praised products before for their emphasis on posture, nothing I've seen has come close to this.

The blue belt section is titled "Escapes". Yes, it contains lots of escapes from various positions and submissions. In fact, it shows sixty some-odd techniques in eleven sections. The purple belt section is about the guard and has seven sections. These include pieces on butterfly, spider, cross and De La Riva guards, as well as reverse De La Riva (Andre from MMA.tv fame should be happy - he's the first one I heard use that term), sitting and half-guard.

The brown belt section is all about guard passing. It is the biggest section of the book with around 130 pages devoted to it an it's my favourite. There are twelve sections in here with strategies to pass all the guard types mentioned in the previous section plus more. It is well detailed and covers more methods than I think I could ever learn.

The black belt section is on submissions. Strangely (and refreshingly) it covers just twenty-eight techniques. I believe you can rest assured these techniques are effective and they are extremely well detailed. I think this shows that Saulo's game is about position and control and is a great indicator of the tone of the book.

Sorry - there is no red belt section. Impending grandmasters with little to learn from Saulo will have to look elsewhere. For the rest of us, this is a great resource.

The introduction breaks from the traditional VB fare and serves as an introduction to Jiu Jitsu, rather than to the author. Novice and experienced students alike would do well to read it as well as studying every part of the book - irrespective of belt rank or perceived knowledge.

Saulo leans heavily on applied principles, as opposed to simple techniques. Fans of his various video series know what I mean. The book is no different. His system relies on mastery of the fundamentals and application of mechanics. Tiny movements and details are important to the completion of techniques and Saulo is keen to show you what they are - just as he has done on his DVDs.

Xande Ribeiro is also used as a model in a lot of the photo series. It must be handy to have a brother who is also a multiple world champion to help you out with your book.

Saulo states in the book that Rickson has been the major influence on him and his Jiu Jitsu and his discussions certainly cover the same ground. I think this is as close as we're going to get to a book from Rickson in the near future, but I can tell you it's a great substitute.

Not that it needs a substitute. A friend of mine suggested that comparing this book is not fair to it or other books. He told me it's more like Da Vinci writing a book on art that covers everything from the first time you pick up a pencil through to the time you end up with the Mona Lisa.

Of course, he's a bit biased, but all hyperbole aside, this is the best curriculum style book on Jiu Jitsu written so far and I reckon it would be hard to top.

If you don't have this book, I'd like to suggest switching to soccer. Get it right now.


Anonymous said...

Is this book suitable for a no gi practitioner? Or is it heavy on the gi?

Boyne Brazilian Jiu Jitsu said...

It's very much a gi book.