July 26, 2009

"Art of the Wrist Lock" - DVD Review


I first was introduced to joint manipulation (Chin Na - Chinese) via Prof. Remy Presas of Modern Arnis fame. Via networking at his seminars I was also blessed to train with Prof. Wally Jay and his students in Small Circle Jiu Jitsu. Remy freely admitted that he learned a lot of his locking technique and theory from Prof. Jay.

At my traditional Karate school we did very, very little joint manipulation and throws. So I would bring back material to train our black belts in and use it in sparring and self defense classes. A few years later joint manipulation became a key element in my everyday work environment as security (doorman/bouncer) in various clubs and bars in both Ohio and New Mexico. If one is working in higher class establishments striking was forbidden even if you were being swung on, so joint manipulation all of the sudden became much, MUCH, more important. I really wish I had access to a similar format and instructional DVD as Roy Dean's "Art of the Wristlock."


A two disk work with over 150 minutes of instructional material, "Art of the Wristlock" far exceeds any previous product on the subject matter. I am a HUGE fan of wristlocks both standing and on the ground, and to the best of my (limited) knowledge no other production has broached the subject of analyzing and studying the similar principles found in both Aikido and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ). Dean has done just that and he has done it with intelligence, panache, and most importantly passion.

Lets get technicalities out of the way. As with all of Roy Dean's DVDs (Blue Belt Requirements / Seminars Year One / and the forth coming Purple Belt Requirements) the production quality is top notch. Filmed in what seems to be HD, the picture and sound quality are some of the best I have seen, which is even more impressive considering part of this compilation is seminars filmed live! Ease of navigation, quality photography, and excellent sound and film editing are fast becoming staples of Deans DVD standards. Good on him for putting quality before quantity. A few spots in the seminars the audio was a bit difficult to hear clearly, but Dean recognized this and added subtitles so no worries.

Disk I
In what is perhaps the hidden gem of the DVD Roy sits down and offers a candid discourse on his involvement in the arts, the differences between Ju Jitsu and Jiu Jitsu, as well as the origins of the various grappling arts of Japan. Roy is quite honest in his approach sharing stories of his evolution in the arts, and the evolution of the efficacy of training within Aikido, Judo, Traditional Ju Jitsu, as well as BJJ. Perhaps many would/did skip this 15 minute intro to get to the "goods," but you should certainly give it its due and pay attention with a notebook. Here are some key points I took away:
  • All styles of grappling are based on the principles of push and pull. (I would interject and offer this principle is found in all styles period, as with striking you are pushing and pulling your hips in an effort to strike faster/harder, for instance).
  • The push - pull principle can be expressed in different ranges of combat, hence the different styles: BJJ - ground based / Judo - focus on the clinch range with grabbing of the gi etc.
  • In order to become proficient at any grappling art you MUST test your skills in an uncooperative environment.
  • Failure is how you make progress. Do not fear failure, embrace it as a learning opportunity.
Before heading into the bulk of disk 1 Dean offers his purpose in the offering of this DVD, paying homage to his own brand "Discover who you are"; "I wish to share my personal experience and technique that has worked for me. This is my expression of Jiu Jitsu."

So begins the overview of the most common wristlocks found in Aikido, the basic five numbered locks, Shihonage, and Kotegaeshi. Dean teaches the common standing variations via Aikido and then shows options to follow up on the ground transitioning to superior positions such as knee on belly, arm bars, and key locks. This is really where Dean shines in his smooth transitions. Moving fluidly from wristlock, to takedown, to submission. He also offers a couple of variations to try off the high collar tie, or clinch. Those not familiar with Aikido or wristlocks need not fret Dean offers the basic grips and methodology in application via principles, not fancy foreign language nor metaphysical mumbo jumbo. Even the rare nikkyo and gokyo wristlocks are taught.

The one complaint I do have about this DVD, actually I think it is the only one, is that in the "Groundfighting" section Dean only spends 10 minutes on the subject. As a BJJ player I was left wanting more setups, variations, positional drills... overall just...more. Don't get me wrong the applications, setups, and variations and transitions he teaches are solid! Often threatening the wristlock only to break his opponents structure and optimize on the lack of position to lock on another submission, these were awesome! I just wanted more of them!

Disk 1 wraps up with a half dozen demonstrations such as Roy Deans Aikido Shodan test, his Seibukan Ju Jitsu Sandan exam, as well as self defense demos and a couple commercials for upcoming productions. Looking to illustrate certain points Dean even offers his first Grapplers Quest competition where his opponent, to Roy's surprise, attempts to wristlock and arm bar Dean! Little tid bits such as "My training in ukemi (break falling / rolling) saved me from getting tapped and possibly injured."

Disk II
Filmed over three seminars at Monerey's famed Yosokan Dojo, disk II carries on where disk I leaves off, blending the principles of traditional Ju Jitsu and Aikido with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. "All Ju Jitsu is about moving yourself, not your opponent." another priceless quote from Dean. Emphasizing getting off the line of attack, non opposition of force, and flow Roy Dean expertly weaves a delicate thread showing how these principles are applied in Aikido, as well as BJJ regardless if one is standing or on the ground. Empahsizing sound fundamentals and principles, Roy Dean gives new perspective on the basic armbar from the guard, clock choke, and wristlocks!

Dean moves on to the subject of transitioning smoothly from standing to the ground, again pointing out certain principles that are true regardless of size, shape, or sex. Though principles were certainly the main course, if you pay close attention Dean offers tons of appetizers and decadent desserts with various clock chokes, arm locks, and again intermingling various wrist attacks as well.

In a classy act the second seminar closes with Roys student TJ getting promoted to Blue Belt. I met and trained with TJ and there was not a nicer guy in the dojo. Though this was like a 5 second clip I thought it to be very endearing and tasteful for Dean to include on the DVD (especially since TJ was demo dummy for much of the DVD;). If one watches subtely you will see that the passion and love that Roy Dean has for these arts shines forth in little moments such as this.

The final seminar offered on the disk is all about some of Roy Dean's favorite submissions; leg attacks. Working no gi Dean once again offers insight and detail that many instrcutors pass over on their instructionals. Entries, principles of leverage, and tightening up all aspects of the basic straight ankle lock are offered, as well as a great counter - escape (from straight ankle) - into a arm bar that is not to be missed! Roy closes the seminar with a
Q & A session offering a great arm bar to triangle series.

Alright, alright, I have bantered long enough. Those of you who know me know I am not that talkative in person;) I would apologize but I do not feel the need to, as I cannot say enough about Roy Dean and what he is offering the martial arts community both locally as well as globally with his DVD's. You will not be disappointed with your purchase here. Even if you think you know about wristlocks check it out, as I feel both standing and on the ground wristlocks are poorly understood and terribly underused. And for those who do not think Aikido is a respectable fighting art.... well... perhaps Mr. Roy Dean has something to show you.

Enjoy,
JAB

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