on September 9, 2003
Let's just say that as a student at Rickson Gracie's school, I rarely find a bjj book which augments my training. This one does. It's a deep, rich read with fasinating history and theories of combat. It changed the context through which I view the Gracie artform.
If you train or are interested in bjj, read this book.
on July 4, 2003
What a great book. Impeccable writing and research takes this book way above anything else out there. An in depth look at the current state of jiu jitsu and MMA. The writing is outstanding, along with an excellent selection of techniques and training drill, making this the outstanding book on the market. Worth every penny!!
on February 29, 2004
No, that's not a quote from Gichin Funakoshi or Moriei Uyeshiba.
That's from Ian Fleming's "From Russia with Love."
The Gracies agree. The bad news is that we're told that 'There is no Santa Claus' against multiple opponents, so wannabe James Bonds are out of luck.
The good news is that when Royce Gracie entered the 'Ultimate Fighting Championship' he was able to do what most martial arts promised but could not deliver; consistently defeat much larger men.
At 170 lbs soaking wet, Royce kept winning against Sumo, Greco-Roman wrestlers, Boxers and Karateka-- as did the rest of his family.
Fleming would have approved of their methodology. The Gracies had tons of eperience, Brazilian law did not forbid no-holds barred challenges.
A bit of a throwback to the 19th century catch wrestling matches, if not quite The Wild West . . .
This book covers the beginning of the Gracie clan's ascencion to prominence. The authors make the point that martial arts which teach 'deadly moves' e.g; eye-gouging, shuto throat strikes and such are weaker than those which practise safe techniques--an easily explained paradox in their view, since the 'deadly' ones (Karate and Ryu-style Ju-Jitsu) have to remain theoretical--not too many students being willing to get their throats crushed in practise; whereas boxing and Judo spend most of their time in sparring safely against a training partner-that is not being cooperative.
Thus they have nothing but the highest praise for Jigoro Kano, founder of Judo. Indeed their 'lineage'is traced back to him via Mitsuyo Maeda,(1871-1941) a Judoka who saw Judo lose to the Fusen-Ryu school of Jujitsu. This was the first time Kodokan Judo had EVER lost against the 'theoretical' schools
Fusen Ryu employed ground grappling.
Kano added this to Judo and Fusen Ryu was 'incorporated' into Japan's official national sport--but not before Yukio Tani, a Fusen-Ryu stylist traveled to England around 1900 and defeated all comers, sometimes fighting as many as 50 a week. He only weighed 125 lbs.
In any case Maeda moved to Brazil followed Yukio's example and quickly adapting to foreigners who wrestled without a gi, boxed, etc.
He then met and befriended Carlos Gracie, and the rest, as they say is history. . .
This book shows some of the most basic (read effective) holds, takedowns and submissions in BJJ.
It also treads on some toes by stating that the cherished concept in JKD about 'ranges of combat' (kicking, boxing, trapping and grappling) has proven to be false. A flying knee can be long range and a grappler who has his mind set on a clinch and takedown from 15 feet away, will indeed, take you down.
A possible weakness is the dogma that 'all fights end up on the ground' which the authors sometimes amend to 'most fights between usnkilled opponents' etc.
The reality is that BJJ confesses to having no defense against two or more opponents save running or looking around for 'improvised weapons'-- See chapter 10, JuJitsu for self defense.
But there is a lot of data in which a boxer a karateka or a good street fighterhas indeed prevailed aginst two men---and more. Ask around your friendly local barroom bouncers, LEO's , and MP's.
Come to think of it, many in the military police and other similar organizations think the world of the hand to hand combat developed by the likes of Fairbarns, Sykes and other commando trainers from WW2--which are indeed 'theoretical' Furthermore with the introduction of 'Redman' and other protective suits and gear, the gap between theoretical and practical is closing.
Lastly, and I know I'm nitpicking--I think the world of the Gracies--Bruce Lee would be somewhat taken aback by the statement that the roundhouse " Can be safely regarded as the 'king of kicks' ". Here the authors are referring to Thai low roundhouse using the shin to attack a boxer's leg.
I'm surprised the authors did not follow their own logical conclusion, that the low side thrust kick to the leading leg of the opponent does not exist in Thai boxing because it's too dangerous and thus is 'theoretical', but might prove quite handy in a real fight , just as Bruce thought.
In any case, all martial artists can be gratefull to the Gracies for putting back some perspective into what works and doesn't, as well as for founding an organization where it does take years of hard work to earn a 1st degree black belt, as opposed to--well I'm too much of a gentleman to name names but if you've been around the MA scene, you know the score- and where possesing one actually means that yes, you can handle yourself in a fight-- WHAT A CONCEPT !