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Creating jiu-Jitsu scientists through GU

December 11, 2011

Chapter 7 of the Blue Belt Stripe 1 course was released last week and, after reviewing the lessons, a seasoned GU student provided an in-depth analysis of what separates the Gracie University curriculum from other video-based curriculums and instructional DVDs.

I started BJJ in 96 in Tarzana under Jean Jacques Machado. In 98 I moved to Utah (I was given my blue belt just before moving) and continued training under Pedro Sauer. In 2005 Pedro Sauer promoted me to purple belt.

I have been working on the Gracie Combatives curriculum for a couple years now through Gracie University. I have also been going through each Master Cycle Chapter as they have been released, watching and drilling the different lessons.

The first six lessons of the Blue Belt Stripe 1 curriculum have been revolutionary to me as there were many details and techniques I have simply not seen over the years.

The Standing Techniques Chapter was unique to me, as I have had a lot of exposure to these particular techniques over the years. I figured this would be the best chapter for me to write a review on due to my comfort level with this material. However, I had a bit of surprise while watching the various lessons that make up this section.

I've given it a bit of thought and this is how I would like to explain it. Lets start with a typical class - the instructor demonstrates and explains how to do a particular technique. You watch it and team up with someone and practice the move. Maybe you have a question and are lucky enough to catch the instructor's eye and ask him. If you are really lucky he deems it an important enough point to show everyone.

Then you practice a few more times and on to another technique. This isn't a function of a bad class but more of the time constraints and economics of running a school. If class is an hour long there is a limit to how much actual instruction the instructor can do. (Don't worry, I am going somewhere with this that is relevant to the review.) Maybe you get a real talkative instructor and he explains at length the intricate movements involved in some aspect of the technique under question.

Compare that to getting 45-60 minutes of instruction on a single technique! By giving us such in-depth explanation of the technique and theory behind the techniques, we can practice them with much more confidence. On top of that, they provide multiple angles, profound philosophy behind each technique, specific drills to practice and sparring exercises that we can use to sharpen reflexes in the context of a real life scenario.

Even though I have seen all the BBS1 lessons, I saw something in Chapter 7 that the two brothers have been doing all along but frankly I missed it in past chapters. Rener and Ryron aren't just teaching us how to do the moves like so many other video-based instructionals I've seen. The brothers are teaching us how to become jiu-jitsu scientists. They mentioned this in the MC Intro Class but it only became crystal clear after getting to this final chapter of BBS1.

To confirm my discovery, I grabbed a couple instructional DVDs from other BJJ instructors, and I looked at some techniques taught at random. Even though there is no problem seeing how to do the move, the instruction stops there. With the Gracies, they go to great extents to makes sure every aspect of the move is understood: good guy strategy, bad guy behavior, low intensity, medium intensity, high intensity, etc. and they even go into detail on when the move doesn't work! That's why it takes them up to an hour to teach something that could easily be demonstrated in 30 seconds (as it often is by other instructors).

Ultimately, in the way they are teaching us to explore the techniques, they are creating "mini-instructors" out of each of their students, and I've never seen anyone do this before.

Really, the only way I can see someone doing this program and failing to become quite competent is if they simply didn't do the program.

The online lessons are so complete that it should become a standard procedure for all students that, before going to a group class, they are required to watch the video lesson of the material that is going to be covered. Even if it weren't a policy, it would be the smart thing for any student to do.

It will be interesting to see down the road how this works out for the Gracie Academy students that have access to the online curriculum and group classes.

Warning - I mentioned it before and I will mention it again. You better be comfortable with Gracie Combatives before tackling even the stand up techniques. Unlike the lets pick out something random to learn today this is a very structured curriculum that must be completed in the specific sequence they've laid out.

If they didn't do any more lessons after the Blue Belt Stripe 1 course, the brothers will have still done an amazing job of revolutionizing the training paradigm of Jiu-Jitsu.

Good job guys!


-Randy Naviaux