on November 29, 2003
I LOVE THIS BOOK! This is one of the most comprehensive works on the principles behind one-on-one, unarmed combat that I've read. We're not talking one of those "every move in the world" books here, though some are included. No, this is more on principles and theories which reallity fighting, specifically jujitsu, embrace. The book starts out with a rather extensive history of BJJ, going all the way back to ancient Japan. Briefly covered are the different theories of how martial arts developed around the world, which was interesting to read. The book then goes into the different stages of combat; the clinch, the free-movement phase, and groundfighting. I have to admit, I've never really been satisfied with "long, medium, short" or "kicking, punching, trapping, grappling", and I'm a little jealous that I didn't think of Gracie's stages of a fight on my own. His division is based on the different skills needed for each stage of a fight. Further chapters cover the stages by themselves. The free-movement chapter covers basic strikes, blocks, and long-range "shooting" takedowns. The section on the clinch actually goes over the most common clinch possitions (over-under, front headlock, double-underhook, etc.), and includes brief strategy for both. The authors give insights into strikes, takedowns, and submissions from the various clinch possitions. Groundfighting is covered in the next chapter. The focus is on the different possitions/pins, and is covered in a hierarchical manner, from most desirable to least desirable. Two chapters are then devoted to specific aspects of grounfighting; winning from the bottom, and winning from the top. These are probably the most technique-rich sections. Escapes from bad possitions, transitional movements to different possitions, and common submissions are shown. After that is a short chapter on training in general, and competitions that attract BJJ stylists are given a little detail (sport BJJ, submission wrestling, and MMA events). The last chapter is on using the theories of BJJ that have been presented in the book for self-defense. This one chapter is what Royce and Charles Gracie's self-defense book should have covered. Among other things, this chapter goes into the "prayer stance", a seemingly benign possition that enables you to defend yourself efficiently; six general catagories of violent encounters, and how their dynamics might effect the techniques used; and how to deal with common attacks, including a very pragmatic look at group attack. A nice feature of this book is that the authors look to present all views and theories of a situation, even if it doesn't really jive with BJJ's main tenents. I can also see how the style keeps evolving with exposure to different arts; many of the clinch moves are taken directly from amature wrestling, and the only kick presented is the Thai-style roundhouse kick. As I mentioned earlier, this book isn't a mega-technique book, but the techniques that are presented could be best termed "essential". The authors also make no bones about the environment that thier theories best suit: one-on-one, unarmed combat. There is definitely a sense of prejudice towards grappling and groundfighting, and this is where I kind of take issue with some of the stuff said. Early MMA/NHB events are brought in as evidence of "little guy beats big guy using grappling", but in UFC's 1-7, without going into too much detail, of six cases where the winner of a match was greatly outweighed, three were won by striking, and two of the remaining matches ended up with the grappler taking a severe beating, and the last one lasted about 20 min. with little action. In other words, I question the "little guy beats big guy using grappling" theory based on those events. Other than that, no real complaints. Great book overall, and an exelent illustration of BJJ theories and how they're applied. Good for anyone interested in what to expect out of a one-on-one, weaponless fight, or a MMA/NHB event.