Monday, 7 September 2009

Purple Belt Requirements by Roy Dean - DVD review

Purple Belt Requirements by Roy Dean – DVD review

Back in the early days of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu here in the UK, if you were not lucky enough to have a blue belt teaching in the immediate area, DVD’s and video tapes were the next best things to actual tuition. In cold and damp dusty garages (as well as nice warm air conditioned garages for the upwardly mobile) up and down the UK, guard passes, arm bars, triangles, mount escapes and a host of other techniques were feverishly drilled time and again; video tapes were rewound and fast forwarded again and again and again until they snapped and clogged up the video player, such was the fervent thirst for knowledge on all things BJJ.

Techniques from many black belts were widely available throughout this period, giving the students plenty to work on until the next belt was reached; what was missing however, for many of the video crazed players, was an actual instructor laying down a map or a guideline for the white belt to progress onto the next belt level. Someone to untangle the myriad of techniques that were available on the video tapes and to help the student arrange them into coherent and understandable sequences of progression.

Step forward black belt Roy Dean.

Noticing such a gaping void in the development of many jiu jitsu students, Roy released the classic Blue Belt Requirements DVD, which finally offered such guidance; laying open a technique syllabus for beginners, together with overviews of the basic positions in jiu jitsu and even instruction on ukemi (breakfalls), for many in the jiu jitsu fraternity, myself included, this DVD release remains the gold standard for jiu jitsu beginners in what is required to take the first step along the belt line.

Once the blue belt is round the waist, one will no doubt start preparing for the next belt, the faixa roxa; mindful of the next progression belt wise, Roy has released his latest DVD, Purple Belt Requirements, addressing what is required for the student to take his understanding to the next level.

Disc one is split into three chapters, What Makes A Purple Belt; Positions Of The Game and Passing the Guard. Disc two covers BJJ Guidelines; Rolling Examples; Kuwait Seminar; Competitions and Demonstrations.

The progression from white to blue belt is about having a firm grasp of the basics and of the basic submissions and positions together with the relevant escapes; the transition from blue to purple belt is a lot less clear cut than white to blue and varies from club to club. I have been a purple belt now two and a years and I remember the hard work and dedication that was needed to make the switch from blue to purple, but what I didn’t have back then was some kind of guideline on what I should be concentrating on to get to the next stage.

As with most blue belts, one is more concerned on finding as MANY techniques as humanly possible and then looking for some more to dazzle your instructor with, so much so that he is humbled enough to award you the purple belt. Hours upon hours are spent using every medium possible to find the latest insane sweep from the octopus guard that sets you up for fifteen variations on the gogoplata from side control alone. The more insane and low percentage the better but at the time, this is what the blue belt is craving for, technique after technique after technique, so much technique that the basics get pushed to the wayside in the pursuit of the outlandish and bizarre.

In the opening chapter of the first DVD, Roy actually puts into words what actually makes a purple belt and uses the analogy of language to put across his thoughts. As a beginner in jiu jitsu you are given single words, the shape and spelling of words and as you progress to blue belt you have enough words in your vocabulary to start talking and debating and then start to go about winning as many arguments as you can.

From blue to purple, the jiu jitsu player must be able to string together the words learnt as a blue belt and start putting them into sentences and then you can start to use the same sentences over and over, these will form the basis of your game and then your personality will also start to come through on the mats as you roll. The right combination of words in the right order give you the sentences needed to win an argument and not necessarily the most impressive words in the dictionary. For me I think this hits the nail on the head in my experience as a blue belt, always looking for the flashiest technique to use, when time would have been better spent polishing up my sentences. Armed with the words of Roy’s analogy, I can now spend my time polishing up my purple belt sentences and have fun winning arguments on my way to the next belt.

Roy goes on to state that one or two reliable attacks are generally enough, the purple belt’s complete game comes through with smooth techniques and combos, everything starts to become second nature and all will flow as you have taken thought out of the process, everything is now unconscious.

Roy goes onto explain that this DVD is not so much a Blue Belt Requirements Part Two DVD inasmuch as laying out techniques for the next level, it is more a conceptual DVD that is not concentrating on the techniques, but more how to move from one to the other, how to build up the sentences and argument winning skills. Roy also states that what is shown on the DVD are the techniques that work for HIM, a very important point to note here; these work for Roy and may not work for you, so treat this as a chance to start to personalise your game from whatever position. This for me is the beauty of jiu jitsu, as one is given the chance to express jiu jitsu individually, to string words together into coherent sentences and then start to see yourself winning arguments.

After the intro from Roy, the positions of the game are covered, with a synopsis of each position, namely the guard; leg locks; side control; mount and rear hooks position. From here Row throws in rapid fire techniques and a few tips on each position as most of the technical points and details will have been covered on the Blue Belt DVD, remember this is a DVD aimed for the higher level blue belts. Roy covers the guard and describes this position as the signature position for BJJ and therefore one needs fluid hips and legs that can create a credible threat to the opposition in their guard.

Roy covers passing the guard with emphasis on precise footwork and then offers a number of ways to pass the guard, with a few tips for each pass without any follow up techniques, this is one place that allows you to start personalising your game.

The half guard is covered in the DVD and strategies are covered with a few passes and passing concepts to be viewed and digested and from there Roy talks about keeping progress when passing the guard. The would be purple belt is told to change their mentality when passing the guard and learn to be patient in passing the guard; using the guard pass as a scale of 0-100 with hundred being the pass, Roy says that the blue belts tends to get to the fifty mark, then gets impatient and in doing so ends up back at zero. The purple belt must start to learn to hold and wait for the next chance to advance to the finish line, all of which makes perfect sense and Roy also speaks of the application of overlapping pressures, which he feels is the key to BJJ success.

Another key element in the progression to purple belt are pass transitions and Roy shows a number of passes that end in a submission that include a spin to arm lock; pass to clock choke and pass to arm lock and also includes seminar footage of one pass to submission. Watching this segment alone, you can see the effortless ease in which Roy demonstrates these positions and shows the beauty of jiu jitsu in action.

Disc 2 is split into five chapters, BJJ Guidelines; Rolling Examples; Kuwait seminar; Competition and Demonstrations.

In the BJJ Guidelines chapter Roy talks about the skill requirements needed for purple belt and states that there is no agreed criteria within the BJJ fraternity for each belt level and that they can vary from association to association. However, Roy outlines three key areas in which one should be up to speed at if one is to progress to the next level and are as follows:-

• Smooth and efficient movement
• Using two or three technique combos
• Have a complete game in all positions

He also talks about breadth versus depth and says that at purple belt level, one will have advanced from the technique accumulation stage and now is the time to start learning to use your own techniques that work for you that little bit better. To go deeper into your knowledge rather than expand and this, he states is the critical difference between blue and purple and speaking from my own experience, this hits the nail on the head 100%.

Roy talks about dealing with injuries and urges the player not to miss class with an injury, treat the injury and protect it and then start to use other areas of your game to compensate for the injury. Watch class mates from the side of the mat and see how they use their techniques and see how the teacher uses his techniques; start to allow others into your game, let them have their way until the last minute. This way of thinking and the application of it into your training will be another way of personalising your game and I think this also applies to the white belts as well who are injured and stay away from the mat. You can learn just as much from observation as you can from participation.

Roy has included a chapter on his recent trip to Kuwait with a three part section on his visit, which covers leg locks, the guard and passing the guard, with plenty on there to take in and use in your own game.

Also included are eight Rolling Examples that shows guys of different belt stages rolling together and putting into practice all that Roy has been talking about on the DVD’s and one can clearly see the levels of experience in action in this chapter.

There is a nice chapter that shows Roy in action on the mats that includes a beautiful and thrilling match between Roy and Dan Camarillo, a truly technical bout from start to finish and in a show of true class, Roy thanks Dan for giving him the chance to discover who he really is, the underlying theme in all of Roy’s DVD’s.

In the Demonstrations chapter you will find footage of Dean Bowerman’s purple belt demo, a delightful black and white slow motion piece on the Spirals of Jiu Jitsu, where Roy is in action showing off throwing, self defence, ground and Aikido techniques, quoting Miyamoto Musashi, ‘all things entail rising and falling timing. You must be able to discern this.’

The viewer is also given a photo journal treat showing many photos taken from Roy’s black belt demo and if that fails to inspire you to train harder, then shame on you! Also included is a trailer for the Art of the Wristlock DVD (reviewed by my good self here

And so another Roy Dean DVD review comes to an end; anyone long into their tenure as a blue belt looking for some help, guidelines and inspiration need look no further than to this DVD. Although a purple belt watching the DVD, it has given me a lot of help and advice and more ways for me to start winning more arguments and I sincerely hope that Brown Belt Requirements comes out before I get mine.

No comments: