June 23, 2009

DVD Review - BJJ Seminars Year One

I had the distinct pleasure to meet Roy Dean a few weeks ago at his beautiful dojo in Bend, OR. Though I did not get to train with Dean directly (I was there for his teacher Roy Harris' seminar, check out a review here on my blog), we have communicated via the net for some time now, and something about his attitude and approach to the art of BJJ and his students really resonated with me. So when I purchased his DVD on Year One Seminars, I was not sure what to expect.... let me be honest... I did not expect much because it outwardly appeared to be a hodge podge of clips and what not from various seminars. I must admit, though it does not happen often, I was wrong!

"Discover Who You Are"
The official, unofficial, brand of Roy Deans academy is "Discover Who You Are," which I think is nothing short of genius as BJJ is truly a vehicle for self discovery. For some reason BJJ is often looked at as barbaric and rather uncivilized by those who do not train it. The notion that one could find the very same attributes in BJJ as they would in a "more traditional" martial art is often marginalized. Why? I have no clue. But their are people such as Dean out there who are doing what they can to destroy such stereotypes.

"I strongly feel that BJJ is a discipline that can serve as a vehicle for spiritual development, and with all the strong checks on your ego in this art, you learn about yourself in a very visceral way. You learn about humility, dedication, and how there are forces greater than you in existence. You learn that it's often better to blend than oppose. You realize that you are more capable than you ever believed you'd be." - Roy Dean

"Year One" is a 85 minute production broken into 6 parts that clearly documents Roy's first year as a black belt in BJJ, as well as the first year the Roy Dean Academy was in existence. Roy had taught Aikido and Judo in the past, but decided to drop all other arts in an effort to dedicate himself solely to the study and teaching of BJJ. This DVD truly does encapsulate the spirit and the body of "Discover Who You Are."

Broken down section by section for ease of review and navigation:

1-Alaska Seminar:
Roy was born and raised in Alaska, so when his good friend Robert Grunder invited him to offer a seminar how could one refuse? In celebration of Roberts 54th birthday Roy flew in and offered an excellent seminar on various guard attacks, sweeps, and finishes. Nothing new or groundbreaking here, but the detail (and I saw this in Dean's mentor, Roy Harris, as well) was where it is all at! Offering small little corrections to the basic kimura's, mata leo's, and sweeps, grapplers of all levels will take something away from this seminar.

2- Summer 07
This is a nice compilation of clips from a seminar Dean taught at his annual school gathering in Bend. No audio instruction here, but one can gleam a lot from the video alone. This felt more like a montage of various topics covered over several hours. I watched wanting more detail in the instruction.

3- Purple Belt Test
I had the honor of watching Jimmy DeSilva get tested for his brown belt last month, and damn if it wasn't impressive! A number of techniques were required to be demonstrated flawlessly, and then over a 1/2 hour of intensive sparring with several students as well as Mr. Dean and Mr. Harris! Jimmy puked his brains out, but persevered and pushed to become Roy's first brown belt student.

This section is Jimmy's purple belt exam. I really cannot do this segment justice as one has to observe it to truly appreciate the message that is trying to be conveyed here. Once you get past the technique, the testing, the hard work, you see truly the struggle we all face....ourselves. Jimmy proved that it is solely up to him if he passes or fails. He must overcome his own fatigue, mental exhaustion, and shortcomings to push through the challenge of crisp clean technique and mental fortitude.

4-Roy Harris Seminar
Here is the gem of the DVD in my opinion. Again the devil is in the details, and Harris does not disappoint! Teaching the subtleties of open guard control Harris walks the students through basic principles and strategies of the open guard, and then dives into various sweeps and techniques. The overall theme was "3." Most often this referred to keeping three points of your body in contact with your opponent at all times in order to control and follow them and their intention of trying to pass your guard.

Again, I do not feel I can accurately convey the quality of instruction one gets from Mr. Harris. I have been blown away for a couple years via his DVD's, but in person he is 10 times better and more detail oriented. His control of the group, his attention to subtle intricacies of the art, and his sharing attitude have become an inspiration to me both as a student and an instructor (something that rarely happens after 18 years of training).

5-Westside Submission
Here is a compilation of Roy Dean's decimation of his competition at Chris Brennan's round robin tournament in Southern California. Roy entered as a purple belt and apparently packed his triangle and arm bar to completely own the tournament. This segment is a personal view into Roy's heart and soul clearly showing how he discovered who he is! Roy is a man of few words, but his actions speak volumes in this section.

6-What does Jiu Jitsu look like?
The final segment of the DVD is a TV commercial shot at Harris International for prospective students. A well done production that conveys the various aspects of BJJ, while at the same time demonstrating how to be a safe and sound training partner.

The production quality of this DVD is second to none! Again, I purchased the DVD fully expecting the same quality I get with my $300 handheld camcorder, but this was not the case here. Filmed in high quality (digital??), and produced like a Hollywood movie, the quality and clarity of both picture and sound is top notch. During a couple of the segments a microphone would have been handy, but all in all it was still very easy to hear clearly and concisely what the instructors were offering. Even down to the relaxing music (THANK YOU Roy Dean for not making another DEATH-METAL-KILL-EM-ALL-BJJ-SOUNDTRACK), which is produced by Mr. Dean himself, the production is top notch!

Your money is well spent with this DVD. Roy has shared with me his desire to produce one of these DVD's every other year in an effort to document the progression of his school, his students, and the art of BJJ over the years. I know I will be purchasing any DVD he produces, and will also be trying to make any and every opportunity to train down in Bend! Great instruction, good people, and top notch beer! What else could a dojo rat like me want!?! To purchase go to http://www.roydeanacademy.com/dvds Oh, and did I mention Roy is barely charging anything for this.... $25!!!


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