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Bravo sir, bravo

With all this talk of the IMF, the EU and the bailout fund, i’ve decided to make this an economics free zone tonight. I thought you might all appreciate that.

So instead of talking about recession and depression, let’s lighten the mood a bit and talk training. Here’s a really funny video:

It’s funny because it’s true. Watching that, to me, is like watching Spinal Tap. We were actually talking Eddie Bravo and the whole Twister/rubber guard fad from a few years back in the gym today. For those of you not in the know, The Twister is the name of a spinal lock/control position that was made popular by Eddie Bravo in the mid noughties. He essentially espoused a move away from traditional BJJ training into a more MMA focussed style of grappling. Of course, this was also accompanied by a book and DVD set. Well played Eddie.

I fell for that for a short while too. I took to trying to get mission control and lockdown, whip ups and electric chairs. I still, on occasion, do those things for a bit of fun and I’ve found the rubber guard to be of some use in retaining and setting up my favoured guard game.

Now who am I to dismiss Eddie Bravo and his fine books? Well, nobody of course. I’m a lowly coach in the MMA backwater of Dublin. It’s the whole Rubber Guard culture annoys me, not the techniques and not Eddie Bravo himself. See George Sotiropolous for good Lockdown technique by the way.

Firstly, the idea that Eddie Bravo created a whole new system of fighting on the ground for MMA is rubbish. Bravo trained for years in BJJ with the great JJ Machado before developing another series of techniques (innovative ones) that can be used in MMA and No Gi competition. This means that he had the means to adapt his new techniques to his already high level BJJ game through “normal” BJJ training. So the notion that you can learn how to Lockdown, do Mission Control and the Electric Chair without recourse to training in the fundamental aspects of BJJ is rubbish.

Secondly, the two fingers to the old guys thing that gets my goat. Look, I get it. MMA is new, old is bad, traditional is terrible blah blah blah. There should always be evolution but I don’t think you’ll find anyone who’ll tell you that hip movement, mobility on the mat and good posture in all positions is not required. For me, too much of the whole rubber guard theory depends on you being in bad positions and teaches bad habits to beginners.

Lastly it’s the cultural thing. If Eddie Bravo had been a 40 something, greying, bald man named John Whittlescombe, do you think the rubber guard would be as popular? Maybe with the fighters and coaches who could appreciate it, but with the fans and people who come into gyms looking to learn it? I don’t think so. A whole myth has grown up around it and like much of MMA culture, it depends little on the effectiveness and more on who has better tattoos and more skulls on their tee shirt. It reminds me of the TV producers in The Simpsons trying to create the Poochie character. “Yes, add 50% more attitude. He needs more zing, put some sunglasses on him.” I can’t find the exact quote, but I’m sure you get the point.

Does any of that detract from the effectiveness of the rubber guard? No, but I think if you’re reading this right now you should probably go and shrimp a little more.

Edit: Thanks to Bobby on facebook who reminded me of one of the quotes form that Simpons episode:

 “I feel we should rastafy him by … ten percent or so.”

Brilliant.

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Discussion

One thought on “Bravo sir, bravo

  1. I picked up on the Eddie Bravo thing after being bombarded by Joe Rogan for a couple of years. Then I got his book. I think that the half guard stuff is pretty good and the lockdown an invaluable asset when a BAG (Big Angry Giant) tries to squish me but his Rubber Guard stuff is low percentage fluff.

    He’s managed to become a marketing Juggernaut after one ADCC match where he beat Royler Gracie in a Quarter Final match and then proceeded to get hammered in the next match. Unsurprisingly he hasn’t competed after that so that the legend can fuel itself.

    Not saying he’s not a good Jiu-Jitsu player because he obviously is but he’s just done a really American thing of repackaging alot of what was already there, gave it a fancy (mildly amusing) new name and then marketed the be-jaysus out of it.

    Fact is… Like some other formerly high percentage guard systems which took MMA by storm (closed guard in the early days)… The Rubber Guard has largely unravelled. Exponents like Aoki have recently (see vs Shaolin) had minimal success with Rubber Guard because strong posture and patience shuts it down. See also Lullo against Edson Barbosa.

    I went to Bravo’s seminar a couple of years ago too and he’s an interesting guy to say the least with unreal flexibility (something I definitely need to work on) but I’d rather concentrate on fundamental movements which are the building blocks of all transitions in both attack and defence before I start hitting the books to learn the Rubber guard dictionary

    Posted by Dr Fox | November 24, 2010, 9:37 am

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