Friday, October 01, 2010

Mastering Mixed Martial Arts: The Guard - Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

I've always been a great fan of the man known as Nog. His style influenced my style a lot. Although, if you've seen one of my fights, you'll know my guard is not nearly as active and effective as his. As a result, I've also come to inherit his legendary ability to take punishment.

Maybe this book is just what I need.

I've seen plenty of books on the guard and I've reviewed a lot here. However, this seems to be the first that really takes what is really the traditional guard-work of BJJ and show its adaptation to MMA.

I know I don't need to introduce Victory Belt as a publisher. They've been reviewed here on many occasions. This book was supplied to me by Victory Belt for review.

It meets their usual high standards for quality. It has 228 pages, which is a little light by VB's standards. The format is smaller as well. However, there is no less information in the book. I actually like the smaller format because it actually fits vertically in the bookshelf I want to keep it in. My only gripe is that the previous ones don't.

VB books always start with an introduction from the author themself. Of course, this has exactly that. While this isn't why most people buy the books, it's my favourite part. It's the mind that makes the fighter and his story that makes his mind. Nogueira's is a good story. He outlines the hardships he's had to endure and the objects he's overcome to get where he is.

Also, where these intros can be quite dry, I was captivated by Nog's never say die attitude. Although that could be the fanboy in me.

The difficulties in photography are still evident. It must be incredibly difficult to never get background colours overlapping poorly with the models and keep everything straight. The publishers have done as good a job as you'd expect, but it's not quite up to the rap I gave Anderson Silva's book. With that said, it's always clear and the movements can be made out with minimal effort.

As per usual, the book is broken down into sections. This time, we get sections on posture control, double wrist control, the inside hooks guard (butterfly), the half guard and the downed guard - essentially, the guard against a standing opponent.

As is my way, I personally became very interested in Nogueira's use of the double wrist control, which is admonished by Victory Belt author Eddie Bravo. It just goes to show, there's a place for everything somewhere and its important to approach with an open mind.

The book is very clear and, if you're familiar with Nogueira's style, you'll see where the moves in the book translate well to his fighting technique.

I found the section on posture control to be fantastic . It's the fundamental element of guardplay - especially in MMA - and Nogueira does it well. The techniques shown work and are well described.

Nogueira is well regarded for his double wrist control guard. So, as a fan of the man - especially of his time in Pride, I especially looked forward to this chapter. The chapter gives some great clues as to why he makes it work while so many fail.

One thing I love about VB's format is the introduction of the "Troubleshooting" sections that they've introduced. This book has one, too. However, it only covers the half-guard. I think the first two sections especially could have used a section on this, as well.

The other sections seem to be a little light on content compared to these sections, but the information is still great. I just wish I had more.

If you want an inside look at Nogueira's well-known guard and perhaps pick up on how you can make it work for you, you'll go well with this book. It probably won't revolutionise most people's games, but it will definitely show exactly how good, "old school" jiu jitsu can be well applied to MMA.

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