January 18, 2011

"Xande" - DVD Review

Arguably the most anticipated DVD tutorial to ever hit the market, Alexandre "Xande" Ribeiro has finally released his 5 disk cannon simply titled "Xande."  If you have remotely paid attention to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) competition reals, then Xande should need no introduction.  A third degree black belt under Royler Gracie, 2x Open weight / 4x Heavyweight World Champion, Abu Dhabi Champion, oh and in his spare time he has amassed a 2-0 record in professional MMA, both wins via KO!  In a nutshell Xande is one of the most talented and gifted grapplers of our generation, whom up until now has never released an instructional series nor book.  Though we have had to wait, let me tell you it is very well worth every minute you have been twitching for Xande's game on DVD!



Remember back just 10 years ago when any kind of VHS tapes of BJJ were a rarity that you were happy to see a new, cool submission where we would go work it and try it out, but we were never really taught any details of the setup, nor the reasoning behind angles and leverage.  Instructors of BJJ past would jump around showing neat techniques, but no one ever shared their game, or how they approached the art.  Here in 2011 that is not the case at all where we have high level competitors sharing their games and how they approach THEIR jiu jitsu (Cobrinha, Jeff Glover, and Rigan Machado come instantly to mind).  Xande is no different with his 5 disk set.

Xande does not beat a dead horse in trying to teach as many variations as possible.  Rather he attempts to showcase some of his best techniques from various positions broken down into 8 courses, plus a bonus section on Ginastica Natural.  Guard / Take downs / Back / Mount / Side Control / Submissions / Passing / Defense.  Clocking in at 577 minutes, you basically have just short of 10 hours of material in this one set!  I must apologize to my readers and to Xande for the delay in getting this review written and out.  I pride myself on offering solid reviews and typically watch a DVD at least 3 times before publishing a review.  There is a TON of material in this set.  Honestly if you are going to purchased one set and work on it for the year, this is it!  On his site Xande has a special going for $120 for the set, well worth every penny.

Production:
Shot with a single camera and angle the production quality of Xande is not compromised.  Excellent editing combined with Xande showing all techniques from several different angles ensures nothing is missed and no sloppy transitions in editing.  The sound is always clear, and Xande's voice is concise with minimal accent.  His English is quite clear and good.  I like the lack of theme music, something I feel people are obliged to add into their instructional's and I just find weird and awkward kind of like porno music.  Xande's disks are void of music and distractions, they are simple and humble and I appreciate that.

Two things stick out production / marketing wise with this set; one is the awesomely unique disk holder the set comes in.  It is way too hard to explain in writing but you will see when you open the set.  Perhaps I am easily amused, but I have never seen this before and found it clever.  Secondly this is one of the first BJJ instructional series that is offered on Blue Ray, so you can play it on your Play Station 3!

Content:
The courses and disks are broken down as such:

Disk 1 - Guard / Takedowns
Disk 2 - Back / Mount / Side Control
Disk 3 - Submissions
Disk 4 - Passing
Disk 5 - Defense / Ginastica Natural

Each disk varies on how many lessons and how long each lesson runs (more on that below), but in general Xande teaches you his game.  Right off the bat it is easy to see he is all about pressure and attacking!  Aggressively seeking out fundamental control positions, the focus over these 577 minutes is NOT on showing a bunch of submissions, but rather gaining advantageous angles, isolating and dominating.   Don't get me wrong, their are literally hundreds of submissions contained in this disk set, but Xande's focus is much broader.

For instance in the Mount tutorial we have 15 chapters, one whole chapter is on mount maintenance and control, another chapter has drills for helping us maintain mount, while their are three (3) chapters on using your feet & hips properly!  Even then we are not remotely close to discussing sub's as Xande shows us how to mount our opponent with seamless transitions from a hand full of positions such as 1/2 guard, side control, etc.  Nothing short of genius is his pedagogy Xande has made the DVD that no one else has and it has to do with the simple focus on basics and fundamentals!

Xande has put his ego on mute and has honestly shared his fundamental understanding of how to build a solid jiu jitsu game from the ground up (pun totally intended for those keeping score!).  I caution the green newbie as this material may be a bit over his or her head, but if you choose to get the DVD focus on a select lesson or two for a month and I promise you will gain from it.  For the seasoned veteran... dude, if you cannot improve your game by watching the subtle nuances in Xande's movement, strategy, and tactics; well then maybe you should hang it up!

The focus of the series is certainly sportive but Xande is constantly reminding the viewer of BJJ's self defense roots, but if you are in the market for a self defense DVD instructional this is not it!


Xande breaks down every technique very clearly and offers tips on where to put the foot, or how to maneuver the hips.  Very subtle details are shared openly, and all I can say is make sure to keep a hawks eye on his hips and how they move!  Amazing!  

I have a number of random notes on each course and I wanted to share those in a kind of notebook format below.   My intention is never to divulge everything in a DVD series to my readers.  I am here to review a product and hopefully either entice you to buy (as is the case here) or turn you away from it.  Either way it is not polite to share every single aspect of the DVD with those who have not purchased said DVD.  

Disk 1 - Guard / Take downs:

Guard:
- Over 90 minutes long, with 28 chapters!
- Showcasing deep 1/2, X Guard, De La Riva etc.
- Over 20 different sweeps
- Again the first 5 chapters cover important topics such as foot in the hip / breaking posture / controlling distance / re-guarding / protecting the corners
- "Make the guard hard to pass before worrying about submissions.  I feel the closed guard is very underrated!" - Xande Ribeiro
- Entries into deep 1/2
- His lessons on breaking posture and controlling the distance are golden!  
- Watch how he grips with both his hands & his feet!

Take downs:
- 7 Chapters
- Great instructions on breaking grips
- Xande stresses the importance on working stand up game.  His influences are from all grappling styles, but he adapt's them to BJJ
- Great variations on Ipon Seonage as well as a sick duck under
- Xande just shows his favorite throws and demonstrates them with his brother Saulo in a fluid demo with minimal resistance
- Great Katagoruma with a sick ankle pick variation


Disk 2 - Back / Mount / Side Control

Back:
- 12 Chapters
- Great control drill
- Focused on getting to back mount from various positions including 4 from turtle, guard, 1/2 guard etc.
- How to ride your opponent when they are escaping (again genius lessons)
- The drills and tips are again the meat and potatoes of this whole series!

Mount:
- We discussed most of this above, but again how to maintain and drills are great here.  
- Technical mount chapter is worth the money alone.

Side Control:
- Position, position, position
- Control, control, control
- Position & Control, position &.... okay, you get the point.
- Awesome drills on how to control his shoulder, thigh, knee, hip to hip etc.
- As with all the instructionals Xande offers a nice flow in his transitional strategy.  If one pass does not work he gives the student a second option or a follow up technique.  Very fluid and crisp with his movement as well as with his instructions.  

Disk 3 - Submissions:
- All submissions, all the time!
- Here is the total (I think I got all of them!) breakdown for all you tap happy junkies:
2 turtle chokes
6 back chokes
1 back arm lock
4 chokes from mount
3 arm locks from mount
1 lock from knee on belly
1 choke from KOB
4 chokes from side control
4 locks from side control
1 choke from 1/2 mount
2 locks from 1/2 mount
2 chokes from 1/2 guard
2 locks from 1/2 guard
1 choke from your opponent passing your guard
4 foot locks from your opponent passing your guard
2 chokes from guard
11 arm locks from guard
2 triangles from guard
9 chokes from guard

- Great series and flows from failed techniques to certain reactions, to counter techniques etc.

Disk 4 - Passing:
- 34 chapters covering passes from various positions; X Guard / Hooks / Deep 1/2 / Spider Guard / 1/2 Guard etc.  
- Xande shows some of his favorite smash pass variations as well as cross knee passes galore!
- Great care is put into the grips, fundamentals of control and posture.  Again I am ranting about these seemingly moot points but you must understand this is what is needed in today's market, yet few are doing it!

Disk 5 - Defense / Ginastic Natural
- Notice the word "defense" and not "escapes."  I think this is an important note on the mindset Xande brings to the art of Jiu Jitsu, and that is always attacking even in defense.  The Ribeiro brothers never really "escape" from something, but rather they use sound fundamentals based on structure and leverage to prevent their opponent from getting a superior position on them.  Though Xande shows a number of escapes from bad positions, his mindset is always of aggressive pressure even on bottom.  Something my coach Brian and I have been working on for me, so this section really resonated with me.  

- Quite possibly the biggest disappointment in the set is the Ginastic Natural section.  This is the first chapter I went to as I was so stoked to see some GN incorporated into Xandes DVD.  When I trained with Sualo, Xande's brother, he warmed us up with GN techniques and flow drills and they were awesome!  So perhaps my expectations were too high, but when I opened the DVD and put in the disk I was bummed when 10 minutes later the GN tutorial was over!  Only about a handful of drills and it is done!  Not much explanation nor teaching involved.  

  Overall this is one of the best instructional DVD's I have ever come across!  You could take these lessons and put them into play immediately and see a huge jump in your mat game.  Every aspect of the DVD series is of the highest quality, and the instruction is exceptionally clear and concise.  Xande mentions in several places how he used a certain technique he was teaching in a certain tournament.  I would have liked to have seen competition footage edited into the DVD showing how Xande executed said technique.  My coach Brian did this with his DVD's on the Basic curriculum and it adds so much perspective and depth to the production.  

I promised myself over a year ago I would stop buying DVD instructional's, but Xande's set is well worth the $120!  Click here to link directly to Xande and order the Blue Ray or DVD set!

Enjoy,
Jake B.

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