Ever been to a class, or seminar, and have a high ranking BJJ professor yell the command "Build your posture" or "Better base?" These are two of the most overused and misunderstood instructions in BJJ today, as very few instructors actually explain what they mean in a succinct manner. Enter Rafael Lovato Jr. and his detail oriented eye for positional dominance. If you have spent more then 5 minutes on the mat with Prof. Lovato Jr. they you know his passion for teaching is unquestionable (check out the review I did of the seminar I attended a couple of years ago), and he is bringing that passion to the internet with his first instructional project, "Ultimate Pressure Passing System."
Renown on the competition scene for his brutal pressure and balance when passing the guard of some of the best heavyweights in the world, RLJ has released a interactive learning platform that incorporates over five different levels which contain more than 40 learning modules dealing with all aspects of RLJ's guard passing, forcing half guard, as well as a special "Calf Slicers" module with guest instructor Justin Rader (becoming an american no gi grappling legend himself). Not only is this a three plus hour repository of guard passing instructionals, but Lovato has also created an online community to support questions, troubleshooting, as well as offering "coaches clinics" where you can conference call and ask the man himself questions regarding the UPPS.
Built upon the theory of; "When is the best time to pass the closed guard??" The answer at RLJ Academy OKC is: "IMMEDIATELY!!!" Here is a level by level breakdown of what you will have 24-7 access to with the UPPS:
Level 1 (3 learning modules):
- "Headquarters" is where it all goes down from. Right off the bat RLJ leads us into dealing with the closed guard and shutting down one of the most common sweeps you will encounter. I like how RLJ uses this simple approach to a "home" position from closed, open and dealing with one of the most common sweeps, the hook sweep.
Level 2 "Pressure Passing" (16 modules):
- Here is the meat and potatoes of the guard passing philosophy that RLJ employs for his approach to all types of guards. That is important to note that he does not change his approach depending on what type of guard his opponent is playing. Spider, closed, half, inverted.... RLJ sticks to sound principles and proven techniques.
- Throughout we are taught the common reactions and scenario's we may run into as we are passing such as Leg Lasso's, inverted guard players, and securing the butt flop pass (great detail that I have missed for the past 5 years in my training!!!)
- Clear, concise step by step instruction is offered for such passes as the X pass / Side Smash / Weave pass / But flop pass / etc.
- And much more then just a hodge-podge collection of random passes, Lovato guides the student through a progressive game plan, stepping off the path only if roadblocks are encountered. Using "headquarters" as the base position really makes following the progressive instruction quite easy on the student.
Level 3 "Forcing Half Guard" (10 modules):
- More and more I am starting to see this strategy in high level practitioners (not saying it is new, just new to me). I first heard Felipe Costa talking about certain point strategies where he would pass only to half guard, get the advantage for almost passing. Then he would start to work the full pass for 2 points. If the strategy works you end up with 2 points and an advantage in side control! Lovato's approach is all about shutting down our opponents options and by forcing half guard we severely limit our opponents escape options.
- Interjected in these various physical lessons lie some great psychological, emotional, and competition oriented philosophies that are invaluable for competitors! RLJ speaks often about imposing your will on someone. Even approaching the half guard as the "half mount" instead changes your mindset and focuses you differently.
Level 4 "Submissions & Calf Slicers" (8 & 5 modules respectively):
- This will be the first learning module everyone jumps to, even though they shouldn't, to see all the flashy submissions RLJ lays down on his victims, but remember that the other three levels are the foundation of what gets you here!!
- A special five modules are dedicated to Lovato's first black belt Justin Rader who apparently is a terror when it comes to taking the back as well as the calf slicer. Rader is renown for the calf slicer which is a great no gi, and gi, technique and this tutorial is hands down the best on the subject I have yet to see.
- Learn to nail the monoplata!
Putting it All Together:
- One great aspect of the UPPS is the opportunity to speak with Lovato himself and ask questions about the program. Click under coaches clinics to check out the upcoming times.
- Here also is a number of clips of Rafael Lovato Jr. competing and using these principles and techniques live in competition against some of the best in the world!
Technically this series is shot beautifully with Lovato being very aware of showing a couple different angles each time. The student gets the impression they are in a private lesson with RLJ and the instruction is quite clear. I experienced no audio hiccups nor technical problems. Login is easy and quick and navigation of the site is super simple. I have yet to try much on my i-phone, but it seems to load quick enough. All the instruction is top notch and the producers were cognizant enough to ensure each demonstrator was in contrasting gi color's with RLJ (shameless plug for 1914 Kimono's.... check out the various colors at 1914 BJJ).
In the end this gets 10 tap out's out of a possible 10 finishes! RLJ actually guides the student through a progressive series of planned attacks and strategies and that really is the gem of this learning platform. If the student pays close attention they will notice a significant jump in the efficacy of their rolling, as following this series will surely improve your pressure, position, and teach you how to attack and impose your will even when in "defensive" positions!
Train Hard. Train Smart.