July 14, 2010

DVD Review - "Roy Dean's No Gi Essentials"

Perusing some old leglock video's by Igor Yakimov reminded me just how far the quality of production has come in regards to martial arts instructional material. The idea back then (I do not have an exact date, but it had to be late 80's) was to have one camera, one angle, and if you wanted multiple angles, the demonstrators would awkwardly fumble around. It was often obvious how ill prepared and structured the lesson plans were. And this is not a knock on Yakimov, I just so happened to look back at some material of his that reminded me to thank people like Roy Dean for continuing to produce excellent instructional DVD's such as his latest "No Gi Essentials."

Firstly I must apologize for the delay in getting this review out. I just received the DVD a few weeks ago, as I had moved earlier this year and the USPS took their sweet ass time forwarding the package to me. So my apologies to Mr. Dean and my readers.

Excellently produced (I want to say Roy's student Rick is the main man behind the camera, but I stand to be corrected) and edited, this two disc set offers a glimpse into Roy Dean's no gi game. I think this is an excellent approach as watching DVD's of submission after submission gets old rather fast. I want to see how they got the submission. I want to gain the insight of each instructor as to how they maintain the position. Packed full of submissions and sweeps, this DVD seems to focus on developing a flowing aspect to your game. "What if" scenario's are scattered throughout the lessons which, if the keen eyed student pays close attention to, will offer countering and troubleshooting answers as well!

Live rolling clips from Dean's classes are also edited in where applicable. Certain moves he teaches are followed by a live clip of him and his students rolling along with narration by Dean. The director is also constantly moving to get the optimal angle along with multiple static camera angles as well. Rick even gets crafty with a clip shot in the reflection of Dean's beautiful dojo! Okay, you get it... technically another excellent production from Dean. Onto the marrow!

Disc 1:
Essential Movements
Essential Grips
Rolling Analysis

As you can see Dean has put in the best of what he considers essential knowledge for the no gi grappler. Not restricted to just submissions, or just positions; Dean attacks the subject from all possible angles. The progression from being able to move on the ground (shrimp, bridge, etc.) into how to grip is certainly key in the no gi game. Jean Jacques Machado once answered "Grips and speed." when asked what is the difference to him between no gi and gi grappling. Grips are essential for our art, and with no gi the need to train them is even
stronger since no material can be grabbed and the slickness of the human body makes holding anything challenging. What Dean terms "grips" with the shoulder and the head, I would refer to as posture breaking which is great to see in a DVD. Dean also explores D'Arce chokes as a method to grip as well.

Offering small doses of each subject Dean teaches a few different throws discussing how to pull off Uchi Mata with various grips, and how to set up one takedown with another such as Uchi Mata into Harai Goshi. This melds nicely into the armdrag chapter which really focuses on fluidity and combinations of movement. Dean goes over both standing and knee to knee drags.
The chapter on kimura's was the first one I checked out; it is one of my favorites! Dean does a nice job again addressing certain scenario's and flowing into other submissions and sweeps when the kimura fails. He speaks of the relationship between the kimura and the guillotine showing variations such as the five finger guillotine as well.

One of the highlights of this 2 disc DVD is the final chapter on the first disk; 'Rolling Analysis.' Dean narrates throughout rolling with white belts through purple, never dominating his students, occasionally offering limbs to see how they will react and he even gets caught a time or two. This feature is invaluable because it showcases so much about the art, the instructor,
and the student. We get a glimpse of Dean's game yet he has left the ego at home and rolls according to the level of the student. Explaining his strategy and technique, all the while giving positive criticism for the student. The love for the art, and the passion for teaching shines through in these seemingly meaningless "extra's" of which I would like to see more of from other martial artist's DVD series.

Disc 2:
Guard Options
Mount Options
Sidemount Escapes
Opening the Guard
Leglock Techniques
Leglock Combinations

Disc two offers more of the same solid fundamentals and variations on a theme. This set is meant to be structured as a private lesson format. Think of asking a teacher whom you were only going to meet once, and have only 1 hour to train with, what his essential ________ is for XX position. In a nutshell that describes "No Gi Essentials."

Sidemount Escapes is one of the gems in this set teaching us to build a proper frame as the foundation of our escape into smooth, realistic, flows and transitions. Dean makes a comment toward the end of the lesson, "The ultimate goal is to never allow sidemount." But really does not delve too deeply into "escaping the opponents guard pass" which I think would be an amazing subject, that is rarely seen taught in instructional DVDs. I was left wanting more, which I suppose is the genius behind Roy Dean.
Yet another subject NEVER talked about is 'baiting.' Dean touches upon the subject in the chapter "Opening the Guard." I must admit that what he shows is a bit risky, but if you follow to a T he has some interesting way to open the guard and pass.

What would a Roy Dean / Roy Harris DVD be without some talk about leg attacks!? Two chapters, "Leglock Techniques" & "Leg Combinations" adorn this set going into great detail on the straight ankle lock as well as offering options into the knee bar and heel hook. Protecting your own legs and exploring various leg controls finishes out the Combinations chapter.

Once again, and not really surprisingly, Roy Dean has produced another fine grappling instructional leading the way in quality instruction with top notch production. He has even just released the first BJJ app for I-Pad which you can download. Regardless of the medium in which you view it "No Gi Essentials" should be an essential part of your DVD collection.

Train Hard. Train Smart.
Jake B.

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