L'actualité Gracie

Master Cycle Review

March 3, 2011

"I think it is really hard to decide where to start. I think it goes back to my introduction to the art of Gracie/Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. I started out under a Royce/Gracie Academy affiliate in Moreno Valley CA, and was fortunate enough to spend some time at the original Gracie Academy. My dad and I went to a weeklong camp they held one time, and I remember just how bad I wished we lived closer to Torrance. Their instruction is just amazing. I can't begin to describe just how good of a teacher Rorion is, and it's great to see that the gift was so effectively passed down to Ryron and Rener.

I went through all 36 Gracie Combatives lessons on GU, and I just love them. It was a trip down memory lane. Even though I'm a brown belt, getting a chance to see all the stuff I learned as a beginner in such great detail greatly impacted my jiu-jitsu game. But, there real information I would like to share with everyone is regarding the Master Cycle. I really think the introduction to the Master Cycle (which everyone can have access to because it's free), while really good, just doesn't do it justice. I mean, you can watch that lesson, and dive into the material with high expectations, but once you do, you quickly realize that you get a hell of a lot more than you ever imagined.

So far, I have gone through the Mount, Guard and Half Guard chapters in the Blue Belt Stripe 1 section. Starting with the Mount Chapter, all I can say is that my entire mount game has become so much better, and is now completely organized. I absolutely loved the Super Hooks lesson, which is also free! It was really nice to see how they managed to bridge the lesson from the Gracie Combatives material too, organizational awesomeness! The strategies I learned from this lesson, coupled with some tricks I learned from Grand Master Helio YouTube video, have helped me develop an incredibly powerful mount game. There is also a great deal of information regarding the defensive aspects of the mount position, most of which I was already doing, but I managed to also pick up a few very useful tricks. I'm very excited to see what comes up from the mount position beyond the Blue Belt Stripe 1 course because, to be honest, I don't know if I ever do much more than what was covered in these lessons (is that a bad thing?).

Next, I would like to discuss the Half Guard Chapter. As I was going through the Gracie Combatives lessons, I asked myself, what would be my natural reaction to defending against punches from the half guard? And I got some great ideas watching the first few lessons in this chapter. While I was most pleasantly surprised by was just how much the reoccurring themes in their instruction managed to change my entire thinking process regarding jiu-jitsu. I think that has to be one of the secrets to this success of this system, their ability to break things down so well, and articulate with such great detail. I stopped training under their affiliate after receiving two stripes on my blue belt and never really got exposed to their approach to the half guard. Which is why I found some of their information regarding it so interesting, particularly with the foot positioning (sorry guys, I can't give too much away, but when you watch this section, you'll trip out). What I really like is that they venture in the sportive application of the half guard, but ALSO the fighting/self-defense aspects from this position as well. Ideas like creating space, using the blade entry and punch block, sweeps and passing. I thought I knew a lot about the knee slide pass, but I realized that I still had much to learn.

After over 9 years of training, the Gracie University online program has really changed my perspective on things. It's not so much that I didn't know the techniques; it's more like I never considered certain critical things until now. This is especially true with regards to my guard game. It's funny, in the past, I would sometimes have a hard time controlling my partner's posture from within my guard, and after watching the early lesson in the guard section, I have a totally new and effective approach. And it's all attributed to a few little tricks that I was never taught but are so incredibly important. Ryron and Rener are masters at getting to the essence of each position/technique. It's like in every lesson I'm saying, "hmm, never really thought of that before, but it makes complete sense." A lot of these moves, people will have seen, but it's their approach to the subject that totally reworks your thought process regarding it. I particularly enjoyed the submission counters sections. I love the fact that they emphasize the "prevention" concept as opposed to only the "escape" concepts so commonly focused on in the BJJ instructional market. Not only do they show the moves and positioning strategies that will prevent submissions, but they also show the "emergency escapes" you can use if you get caught.

The other lesson topic I enjoyed was Lesson 25: The Triple Threat. I went to a seminar at the Gracie Academy years ago and they were discussing "Rener's Triple Threat," but we didn't have time to go into it during the seminar. But bam, there it was online. Let me tell you guys, it's stuff that you know, but they way they break it down, it's as if you've never seen it before, and it totally works.

Now, all of this so far is in regard to the actual instructional material. On top of that, the fight simulation drills and the focus sparring drills are amazing. I truly believe that if some of you watched them, you would find some great ideas for how to make your training sessions more productive while growing your mental and physical understanding of the positions. They have structured the curriculum in a way that really ensure the most rapid comprehension and progress.

One great surprise was that I later realized that they also offer companion notes to each and every lessons, and after close inspection I realized that they were very similar the notes I was taking all along. It was kind of funny. I really think this system offers a great package (all controversy aside). I will continue subscribing to lessons, because I think they will be a great supplement which has already taken my game and teaching to another level. I just realized how long this post is, so I'm going to cut it off here. Sorry for the length."

-David Sandoval
Gracie Barra Brown Belt