September 29, 2009

DVD Review - Purple Belt Requirements

Roy Dean's latest BJJ DVD gem is entitled "Purple Belt Requirements" and it is a must have for any serious student of BJJ or grappling regardless of your rank. I have quickly come to expect an extremely high level of instruction, production quality, and insight from Mr. Dean's instruction both in person and via his multi media outlets. Once again I am pleased to announce he has risen to the challenge and lived up to the level I (and others) have come to expect.

I have been looking forward to this DVD for the past 6 months or so as I am about 1/2 way to my Purple belt in BJJ. I was bummed when the DVD arrived literally two days before my 2 1/2 week vacation last month. I managed a quick peak but nothing substantial until I got back a few weeks ago.

Where many DVDs of this nature approach the subject via the instructors personal curriculum of techniques and transitions, Roy Dean's goal with this DVD is simple, "To move you forward conceptually, so that you can create your own game." A personalization of your grappling approach lending from Dean's credo "Discover who you are."

The two disk DVD starts out with "What makes a purple belt" where Dean makes an excellent analogy of the art with studying a language. At the blue belt level one is still learning words, collecting techniques if you will. At the purple belt level one starts to make sentences which form the basis of YOUR personal game. One of the greatest things about the martial arts, BJJ in this instance, is that the art becomes a conduit for ones personality to come out on the mat.

"BJJ is not about techniques, but rather transitions." - Dean.

Do not mistake this DVD simply as a collection of techniques. Don't get me wrong, over the 170 minutes of instruction there are plenty of techniques demonstrated and taught. But the gist of Dean's lessons here are formulated around the concepts of grappling and the development of your personal toolkit. On disk one the menu is broken into Passing the Guard and Positions of the Game.

Positions of the Game offers the student a look into several of the most prominent positions of BJJ such as back mount / mount / sidemount / guard / leglocks, and approaches them from a principle based perspective including attacks and submissions but the focus is on transition. We are reminded of simple things that us beginners all too often forget such as attacking the neck in an effort to get to the arms (or vice versa), or how to use your legs which is key to the advanced game.

Precise footwork, patience when passing such as overlapping your pressure and not regressing with your progress are the fundamental idea's of the Passing the Guard portion of disk one. Again techniques are covered but not emphasized. Herein lies the golden nuggets of the DVD; 1/2 Guard Strategies / Passing Concepts / Passing Transitions. Dean expertly talks about, and demonstrates, some of the concepts and strategies (sorely missing in much BJJ instruction) of passing someones guard. Transitions are where most beginners get stuck and Dean addresses problems and solutions with details that often stump us grapplers.

The second DVD offers a number of great supplements to the main DVD such as Donald Bowerman's Purple Belt evaluation which includes technique demonstrations as well as free rolling. Also included are rolling examples from blue - purple - brown - and black belts showcasing similarities and differences of styles and approaches. These are all a nice fit for the DVD as a whole. Dean also talks about guidelines for a Purple Belt in regards to their skill requirements:
1) Smooth efficient movement
2)Complete game - a go to move in every position
3) Link your combo's using 2-3 techniques

Dean also includes some his competition footage of a black belt fight with one of his hero's Dan Camarillo. I am not sure where this fits with the Purple Belt theme of the DVD. It is an amazing match, but does not seem to fit in with the majority of the DVD. The same must be said for the breakdown of the triangle Dean offers from fight footage at Brennan's round robin tourney. I believe Dean was a purple belt at this stage in his career, but I am not sure. Nice little breakdown but again I am not sure why it is included.

To wrap up the second DVD we are invited into Roy Dean's Kuwait seminars from last year where he offered lessons on leg attacks, guard passing, and closed guard work. Again these are all interesting and offer some nice techniques and insights into Dean's teaching approach, but I am not sure how they tie into the Purple Belt theme of the DVD.

Overall 4 out of 5 stars. As usual the production quality is excellent with the picture crisp and clear. Unfortunately in this DVD the sound was a little too echo-ie which was a bit distracting. Students, true students not just technique collectors (go to Youtube for that), will want to include this DVD in their library, as Dean has set a new standard in what we should expect from an instructional BJJ DVD.


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