Summary: Advanced Jiu Jitsu and Everything You Need to Know to Get There
Comment: It's no secret that I really enjoy Victory Belt's books. I think they've nailed the format for describing individuals' games and their specialities. They are definitely the market leader in the arena of working with a fighter to extract the information they need and put it into print.
It shouldn't surprise any readers, then, that I really liked the X-Guard by Marcelo Garcia.
The book has all the hallmarks of Victory Belt's previous works. The large format and detailed colour photography don't disappoint and actually go one better with this edition.
Not resting on their laurels, the guys at VB have introduced detailed inset photos where warranted. This is not a completely original concept by any means, but it is done as well here as with any other publisher.
One of the problems I thought I might have with the book is that I wouldn't be able to identify with Marcelo and the X-Guard. This was an issue with Eddie Bravo's books on the Rubber Guard. I don't really use the Rubber Guard and am not built well for it. I pretty much have had the same problem with the X-Guard.
That was until I read through this book. You see, my butterfly guard is a little...... agricultural. And that, it seems , is my problem with the X-Guard. Not my long legs and extraordinary height - my previous excuses.
The book is split into two sections. The first is on the butterfly guard and the second on the X-Guard, itself. Both are split into three subsections each. The butterfly guard section is the most detailed treatment I've seen of the topic in a book. The three subsections are titled "Basic Positioning & Grip Defense", "Sweeps & Transitions" and "Submissions".
Now, Marcelo Garcia can work his butterfly guard in a way I find amazing. It's something I'd never been able to do terribly well. I could work it well enough against white belts, but always had to let it go against people nearer my own skill level. This book, though, gives solutions to most of the problems I'd encountered in the past.
I had the same problem with the X-Guard. There was just no way known I was ever going to get my giant legs in position. It shouldn't surprise you to find I was doing it wrong, though. The details shown for the X-Guard helped me a great deal, but I believe it's my better understanding of the butterfly guard that has ealed the deal for me.
The X-Guard section is is split up in a similar way to the butterfly guard section with subsections called "Establishing the X-Guard", "Sweeps" and "Submissions".
All-in-all, I'd say this is one of those rare $24 books that have made a heck of a lot more than $24 worth of effect on my game.
It just keeps getting better, too. Erich Krauss and Glen Cordoza have been getting steadily better at writing, too. In the past, I've criticised their spelling and grammar in the introduction sections. Is it better in this book? The truth is, I don't know. I got so engrossed in Marcelo's story, I never bothered to check.
That's got to be a big tick in the box.
After a review like this, I like to put a little disclaimer to it......
I am no Marcelo Garcia fanboy. I've not watched his DVDs all the way through and I've seen maybe three of his matches. I have also been known to give Victory Belt some very pedestrian reviews, but they do impress me with their ability to improve with each publication. This book is the second of their catalogue to go in the Best of the Best category, but probably not the last if the quality continues this way.
Summary: A must have.
Comment: This is a must have for anyone willing to think outside the box when it comes to BJJ. The introduction itself is worth its purchase. Marcelo defines what it means to sacrifice for any goal or passion we all have inside. The detailed pictures and explaination leave no room for error. Get this ASAP.
Comment: Have only read the first half and flipped through the second, but Marcelo does a great job showing his X-guard. If you liked the Eddie Bravo books you will really like this.
Summary: Excellent book at an excellent price
Comment: I was excited to get this book and it completely lived up to my expectations. Like the other Krauss-Cordoza collaborations from Victory Belt publishing this is a very well put together book printed on high grade glossy paper, with detailed high quality multiple-angle shots of the techniques and very good explanation including the physical mechanics of the movement and advice on strategy of when to use it, how to get there, mistakes to avoid, and what your opponent is likely to do. Marcelo Garcia is probably the best grappler in the world and his system is unique and effective and works for all body types, and unlike Eddie Bravo's very good system doesn't require crazy flexibility. The book provides info on gi and no gi Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It's comparable to Eddie Bravo's Rubber guard book in terms of quality and production value. It has a color coded easy to use system that makes it very easy to quickly find sections and whether the technique is appropriate for gi and no gi competition.
The introduction includes a short biography that shows you the determination and dedication that has made him the champion he is. From 3 hour commutes to training, to cleaning the mats so he could afford to train 4 times a day. The first section on technique is 78 pages dedicated to the butterfly guard including basic stance and grip work, sweeps and transitions, and submissions all with detailed advice on how to establish and properly adjust the technique so you can make it work in high level competition ( e.g. 7 pages just on the guillotine choke, most books give it only 2). He constantly emphasizes drilling the technique to really get it down and learning the fundamentals of the butterfly guard before moving to the X guard. This sort of guard requires very good timing and sense of balance that can only be developed through many hours on the mat. The X guard is detailed in the final 149 pages of the book (264 pages all together). 63 pages on establishing the X guard from standing, sitting, elbow control, underhooks, full guard, half guard, omoplata, mount and headlocks. Then a section with 18 sweeps from X guard from different kids of control (e.g. from hands, sleeve, or collar). Then 15 pages detailing 7 submissions for X guard including omoplata, triangle, gi and no gi inverted arm bar, knee bar, foot lock, and heel hook. Again filled with tips on when to use it, positions to transitions from, your opponents likely reactions, and common mistakes. If you perfect even just a few of the techniques in this book your game will improve dramatically. This book is more for intermediate to advanced students of BJJ, though the section on butterfly guard is fairly accessible and very useful to beginners. Those starting out (and intermediates too) should check out Kid Peligro's book "the Essential Guard" or the Joe Moreira /Ed Beneville 3 part series on the Guard, these focus are more on the fundamentals. If you're looking to improve your guard and your overall game, I highly recommend this book, it's a steal at this price, I would have paid more for it. I look forward to his next book on arm drags and mastering the back.