Sorry for the lack of updates, I have been thinking a lot about the future of the site/channel and sometimes I tend to get tunnel vision. I’ve still been working on projects though and more videos will be coming soon. Here are some thoughts/updates till then.
1) New Scouts Spotted
I don’t use forums/social media much frankly (I am trolled enough on YT/FB/Twitter to keep my hands full these days) but lately in some of my research I have started to check out reddit/sherdog and have discovered some pretty interesting discussions. In particular I have started to see some videos by someone called Gambledub who has made some pretty good breakdowns on Baret Yoshida’s use of the crucifix position. I’ll let his videos do the talking but they give you a good overview as well go into the final details of the position. I think there are some future parts coming which I can add to this post later but you can watch the first 2 parts here. Pretty cool stuff and it’s a pity Gambledub only has 21 subs (I think you can’t access all of YT’s channel features till you get 100) so help a creator out and subscribe. Also Gambledub, tsk tsk why no pauses. Let me know if you need some help/advice making vids/developing your channel, I’ll save you some time getting up the learning curve!
I also see Shawn Williams has started a YT channel and has some interesting breakdowns (sorry if all of this is old news, I am still trying to get used to Instagram, gimme a break). Shawn has spoken kindly of me in the past and I am most grateful. Fyi – in one disc of his Willams Guard DVD, he goes over the nearside underhook pass series which is related to my Murilo Santana Studies so if you want to extend your skill tree there check it out. It is good to see a great teacher starting to embrace a new medium (YT) to pass on some insightful BJJ knowledge to us all.
ps: As I have said – I wasn’t the first, and I won’t be the last. Over the last 18 months I have come to learn of/met a lot of video creators who share a similar passion for BJJ/MMA’s intricacies. I have also been sent amazing grappling videos of children/women all over the world. I want to somehow find a way to bring exposure to these talented people and perhaps do more for the sport than just analyse stuff. The sport needs more than just competitors to grow – it needs programmers, creative types, finance/strategy/marketing types, people with good management/organizational skills. So any of you out there interested in exploring possibilities in this space, please do get in touch.
2) Artechoke Media -Mastering the Crucifix
Can’t get enough of crucifixes? Let me hook you up (ok bad pun). I first got into contact with Marshal Carper (one of the individuals behind Artechoke Media) via his peer, Aesopian (aka Matt Kirtley), the other person behind Artechoke. I was interested in the Neil Melanson book, Mastering the Triangle Choke and Aesopian put me in touch with Marshal (co-author), who sent a copy to me.
Now, I want to write a review on Neil’s book separately but upshot is, content wise this is one of the best instructionals I have encountered (I’ll explain next time). Being able to identify a topic like that to cover takes quite a cultivated eye so naturally I was interested in Marshal and Matt’s latest project in Mastering the Crucifix.
Mastering the Crucifix is ground breaking in several ways:
a) It was funded by an Indiegogo campaign. This is a refreshing take on the “DVD industry” and a welcome breath of fresh air for the community. For some reason (ok why beat around the bush, we all know why) , a certain “groupthink” has ensnared the way BJJ knowledge has been promulgated and “hit and run” tactics have been in place over the last few years. Same MO, create an “appeal to authority” (some BJJ star/idol etc) who does something so amazing that you want to be them. Now tell the consumer that you can get a piece of greatness for XX dollars (but make sure by midnight, cause it’s 2x that tomorrow). To be clear though, I am not against smart sales tactics, as “sleazy” as you think some BJJ DVD merchant practices are, it’s child’s play compared to some of the stuff that was going on in the credit/mortgage derivatives market (equity tranche of CDO-squared with collateral cherry picked by the principal? Really?). In any case – the fact that Mastering the Crucifix got funded shows an important fact that cannot be ignored – despite what has been marketed to the masses, the community wants to hear from someone who has something valuable to offer (regardless of their “name”) and will respond to them monetarily. You don’t need to mythologize someone and hit the consumer fast before they have had a chance to look under the hood.
b) A bold and different approach to BJJ pedagogy. This is an interactive instructional organized with an “interface” that lets you easily navigate to an area you choose. This is important as DVDs/videos are cumbersome sometimes. Having to click through to get back to where you last stopped can lead to someone abandoning an instructional in frustration. The use of a multi-level menu sidebar to organize content is a very welcome feature and is a departure from the standard “stream of consciousness” DVD that runs through a “syllabus”. This instantly makes the instructional usable for all belt levels – the total beginner who can work his way down or the advanced who can instantly drill down to specific sections to focus on.
Moving on to what you watch, the viewer gets to see gifs of each move/detail in motion and from a variety of angles. Everything in terms of angle selection/lighting has been carefully thought out. At the end of each segment, the authors have embedded short videos covering the subject matter as well as further voice narrative. I personally found myself looking at gifs and reading, but I did watch several clips and there were several good details/gems in these clips as the authors could take their time to expound on the topic at hand. Personally, text and short bursts of videos are an ideal way to learn BJJ (duh) and having the lesson conveyed as a “blog post” where they can use text headers to highlight important details (to troubleshoot something or a particular grip etc) works well. (This delivery format would greatly have improved the Neil Melanson book (my main criticism) as the traditional “4 stills” miss out some very important micro movements to lock on a triangle which you only get to see on a small YT clip he has on his channel.)
c) This company is not a bucketshop. Passion for BJJ belies each effort they put out. Artechoke has actually gone beyond this latest offering and is already looking to further harness the interactive possibilities of the web to transmit BJJ knowledge. They have since released something called 3-D Jiujitsu, an “R&D piece” so to speak, protyping how their model for teaching BJJ can be improved. No banging the same tired drum, but tireless tweaking and improvement to their delivery system. That’s passion and a signal that someone is interested in building a relationship with the consumer. That is how innovation occurs, you just keep taking tiny steps till one day you take a big one or you look back and see how far you’ve already gone. These guys are interested in hearing from you the consumer and how their product can be improved. Feels like a rare commodity these days.
I look forward to further products by them but let me get into the subject matter at hand. I hesitate to call this subject matter “fancy/unnecessary” because it’s lack of adoption could merely be from a lack of awareness. As Gambledub above shows, this position is viable at the elite level. Crucifixes are not a common move. They are also not well understood as a skill tree and this instructional makes major inroads in unveiling the setups and finishes as well as how to troubleshoot the position. There is also good exposition on the reverse omaplata and how that relates to the crucifix. This ought to keep you occupied for quite a few months but I personally think the content is more for the advanced player interested in extending their skill trees. Crucifixes are not common because hiding your back and dropping to guard/inverting is the preferred “advanced” tactic these days rather than turtling. This gives very little time to setup the crucifix/reverse omaplata vs something easier like taking the back directly (something I advise a beginner to shoot for when starting out). However, increasingly the “elbow push escape” is becoming a very popular means to counter toreando/drags. This exposes you directly to the step over armbar or crucifix where this skill tree can become quite useful in scrambles.
Also this position can become very useful in no-gi (as Marcelo Garcia has shown). Unfortunately the interaction/relationship between the crucifix and the guillotine is not covered (see my Gary Tonon Study for an example). However, that is the beauty of this platform, in that “gaps” can easily be updated online as they think of further details to add.
All-in-all, I do think this was a very good effort and I would recommend at the very least you walk through the “demo”. Do browse one of the chapters free here http://artechokemedia.com/mastering-the-crucifix/crucifix-fundamentals/
Ps: Over the past 18 months, I have gotten many requests to review instructionals/gear/sites etc. I’m sorry I have not always responded to everyone and for some that I said I would, you have been waiting for several months! I am trying to now work my way through my backlog and I do apologise again for my tardiness. Making videos is so time consuming sometimes it leaves me with very little time for other projects (even working on my site). Please do always feel free to get in touch with me again (I don’t mean to seem aloof) and I will try my best.
3) bjjscout.com must change – Follow my Journey
To be honest I am becoming a bit overwhelmed by bjjscout.com. Juggling video making with trying to manage social media is starting to get to me. I have now hit just about 20,000 unopened mails in my main channel’s email address, a lot are social media notifications on comments/subscriptions I can ignore though, but I still gave up a while back. I do try to reply to everyone quick but sometimes I can’t answer fast enough and stuff gets buried. I find it is starting to actually wind me up sometimes, especially if a particular contact point ends up being a troll or someone engages me for an extended period in what seems like a sincere information exercise but really could be dealt with if they had an instructor (how to knee slide? really? Are you trolling me). The thing is, my purpose was to show the “strategy” behind BJJ, ie stuff for a smaller pool of “advanced” players, ie I’m not looking to show “how” do to a move (I do it in my 15 sec Instagrams sometimes) but more as to the “why/when” to do it. But either because many beginners are now online or perhaps many MMA fans don’t also train, my audience composition has shifted over the last year. I end up losing control of my time which I want to spend on actually working on collabs/videos/site improvement. ps – If anyone has any good solutions please let me know.
To that end, I have been looking into revamping the direction of the site/channel (yes, I know I have been saying it forever). I have been bouncing various iterations in my head on which direction to go and I think I am almost there. No, don’t be mistaken that I’m going to be trying to wring every last dollar out of the community, but rather I’m looking to engage the community in a more efficient manner than I have previously. Ultimately, I don’t want to just raise awareness of “bjjscout” in the bjj community, but raise awareness of “BJJ/MMA” in the general community, if that makes any sense.
Don’t worry, I have nothing to sell so I won’t be spamming you, but if you are curious as to how you can become involved when I finally come up with something workable (a beta maybe), please sign up now for my list ==>here.
3) Some new Designs
Speaking of selling, I will be updating some of my fanwear and the design above, along with a few others will soon be up at bjjscout.spreadshirt.com. So if you are interested in supporting the channel, do get a T-shirt or a patch.
5) Finally, videos/collabs coming up in the horizon
Small update on my video schedule – I will be having a Metamoris 5 match preview coming up and in a nice development Metamoris has kindly offered to give away some prizes for folks who vote for the preview they most want to see! 10 exclusive M5 event Tees are up for grabs for people who vote on my survey so start clicking!
ps: Event promoters, let me know if you want to collab with me!
After that, Part 2 of my Dominick Cruz study should be out before the end of the month. Modesty aside, every time I think I can’t make a video to top my last one, I surprise myself (ie DLR Counters -> Ronda Judo Study -> GSP/Hendricks). Part 2 is going to make you change the way you watch Cruz forever, I guarantee. Too many people misunderstand what a “breakdown” is (at least how I see it) and it will become clear in Part 2. There is a reason why I raise statarb as a background. Empirical studies, statistics, languages/programming, fighting… are all about pattern recognition, not about mastering where a grip/foot goes. In any case, watch Part 1 again in the meantime.
ps: folks who want to collab with me (past or present), please hit me up (again). I’m open to ideas always.
So stay tuned folks, thanks for reading.
TLDR (hah I learnt this from reddit)
1) Check out Gambledub and Shawn Williams on youtube
2) Check out Mastering the Crucifix by Artechoke Media
3) Sign up for my mailing list so when I revamp my site you know asap
4) I’ve got new T-shirt designs, up at my store soon
5) Win a Metamoris 5 shirt by voting to choose your M5 preview
6) Keep writing to me, sharing interesting vids/ideas etc. BJJ by the people, for the people!