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173 of 177 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Basics, good insights
This is a fairly comprehensive survey of the basics, covered in a belt-by-belt perspective. The photographic quality is emblematic of the new style of MA tutorials, with clear pictures, and techniques portrayed from multiple perspectives in a top-down, linear fashion. It's the same style used in Couture's "Wrestling for Fighting" and several other recent works...
Published on November 17, 2008 by Silverstein

2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars judo not jujutsu
Having studied both for 40 years, I just have such issue when the Brazilian people continue to promote Jujutsu as judo . The original brazilians were taught Judo by Kano's judo champ, they elaborate on the ne-waza and call it jujutsu . Pretty much everything in the books and mags are trash because the art that they portray is always Judo. If you like that great, if trophy...
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer

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173 of 177 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Basics, good insights, November 17, 2008
This review is from: Jiu-Jitsu University (Paperback)
This is a fairly comprehensive survey of the basics, covered in a belt-by-belt perspective. The photographic quality is emblematic of the new style of MA tutorials, with clear pictures, and techniques portrayed from multiple perspectives in a top-down, linear fashion. It's the same style used in Couture's "Wrestling for Fighting" and several other recent works.

There are scads of GJJ books on the market, so I will only cover what makes this one different from the rest. One noticeable difference is in the belt pedagogy. In the Gracie books, the techniques assigned to belt levels (if at all) are often apparently randomly selected and organized. Ribeiro, on the other hand, assigns a principle goal of each belt, and then organizes techniques in accordance with the goal. The main thing to realize is that many (most?) classes put defensive techniques and offensive techniquest together at each belt level, with proficiency, as well as learning some advanced techniques, being the key to getting the belt. Ribeiro, on the other hand, groups like techniques. Therefore, the reader's class will likely be out-of-step with this book. Ribeiro is presenting a pedagogy, not an encylopedia of techniques, so if you're considering this book, keep that in mind.

Amazon won't let you see the TOC yet, so I will break the chapters down.

White belt: The goal is "survival," which seems completely reasonable to me, at least as a focus. This chapter covers the correct positions to attain and to hold while you're under another player's mount (top, side, back, etc.). Ribeiro lists the mistakes he thinks players typically make when defending against submissions in these positions, and some of his techniques are slightly different from what I've seen taught elsewhere. The point here is that the new player hasn't learned, or at least, isn't proficient at, escapes or submissions yet, and he needs to learn how to survive while thinking of his next move. I found Ribeiro's pointers to be useful...things I wish I would have learned on my first day of class (instead of being thrown to the wolves).

Blue belt: The goal of the blue belt is to focus on escapes. Escapes are discussed from the the above positions, and, as in the earlier (and later) chapters, Ribeiro lists mistakes players typically make, as well as his own unique techniques.

One primary difference, then, is that this book provides no offensive techniques for either the white belt or the blue belt. That's okay from the standpoint of this book being a supplement to actual classes, but would be quite interesting if the book were akin to Ribeiro's classes. My school failed where Ribeiro succeeeds -- focusing on survival, or at least, defensive techniques, for the lower belts -- but my school was also, I think, more conventional in that it required excellence in dozens of offensive techniques in order for blue belt to be acheived.

Purple belt: The goal of this belt is to become proficient in the guard. The earlier pattern continues.

Brown belt: The goal of this belt is to learn guard passing. The earlier pattern continues, and a variety of basic and advanced techniques are presented.

Black belt: The goal of the black belt chapter is to learn submissions.

Anyway, the moral of the story is to be clear on what you want when choosing a supplemental text. This book presents sound techniques and an interesting approach to study, but one that is likely to be completely out of sync with what the reader needs to learn in order to get ahead in class. Other books present laundry list of techniques without any sense of order or purpose.

Hope this helps.
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59 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent treatise, some omissions, June 17, 2009
This review is from: Jiu-Jitsu University (Paperback)
I have not much basis of comparison with other bjj books, however, I have seen plenty of instructionals and done my share of googling.

The thing I love about this book is Saulo's core premise - get good at defense first. In fact, get good at knowing what to do in the very worst positions first (e.g. under mount, under side control, under knee on belly, etc). After you know how to survive under those positions, learn how to escape. After you know how to escape those, learn what to do from guard (the best of the worst positions). After you know what to do from guard, learn how to pass it. After you can laze around all day in a superior position, learn how to submit. Hell, as long as you have dominant position and can hold it, you will win on points. In a real fight, you would be pounding on your opponent anyway, requiring little real finesse.

I came to this realization very early in my bjj career - I hated being smothered, I hated that it was difficult to escape, so it was crucial to learn how to escape. I did not even make the connection that there were survival skills to learn (e.g. what SR covers in his white belt section, or how to not get submitted while under dominant positions and spend minimum energy doing so) other than escapes. But now thanks to this book I realize that these skills have a fundamental importance - even more so than escapes. So it is gratifying to read something from a several time world champion who says basically the same thing, and extends my understanding.

Get good at the defense, and you will be like one of those weighted punching balloon dolls, always somehow rising to the top, causing your opponent endless frustration and demoralization. Technically, it might be possible to be so good at takedowns and guard passing that you never, ever wind up in an inferior position, but that's highly unlikely, and if you do you are stuffed. (Doing so would also make a person fearful and overly risk averse, knowing that you can't afford to make a mistake. That attitude is a prescription for choked, poor performance, not to mention slower learning.)

Ok, so great idea, great layout, great belt system. I think whether or not your club has a syllabus, adding these techniques to your own repertoire (a sort of secret syllabus, if you will) will give you an edge. For example, I will make it my mission to know SR's white belt and blue belt (e.g. survival and escapes) for my blue belt grading, which is coming up shortly.

Which brings me to the reason I rated this book four stars (it's probably more like 4.5 stars, but I don't have that option). If you practice bjj, you will find yourself under top control (north south). You will find yourself under side control with your partner blocking or holding the leg close to him with that arm (to prevent getting the guard). This position will transition nicely into north south anyway, from here your opponent can go from side to side, confusing you and often getting stray arms. You may also find yourself in side mount. Some people have guards that are devastating and feel like a dominant position in and of themselves, with triangles and armbars easily forthcoming.

How to survive these positions with minimal effort should be covered in the survival section. If there is a reason for this (maybe it's imperative to escape ASAP, or maybe there are no good options, or something I can't fathom), at least indicate this and have some comment.

For some reason, how to survive in these positions isn't covered and it detracts from the book. I realize that no bjj book can ever hope to be complete. However, for a book that claims to be a "university" and rightly stresses the importance of fundamentals, if even a compromise is necessary it would be better to remove a submission or two and flesh out the survival section some more. I hope a future edition of this book clarifies how Saulo would handle these situations.

I realize that Saulo has copped some criticism from others about the black belt section being the weakest of the book. I think that's missing the point. If you excel at the rest of the skills in this book (e.g. everything required to gain a dominant position), then a submission will be a fait accompli. There are plenty of black belts who have one "go-to" submission, e.g. a cross lapel choke, and need nothing more.

As I edit this review several weeks after first writing it, I will add that I have been methodically trying the survival techniques in my rolling. They work pretty well. The higher belts (blue and purple) will still get submissions on me, but it will usually take 5 minutes or so before they achieve one. I have also managed to escape and upgrade my position from time to time. I am usually able to stymie those of equal skill with these techniques.

So what is the point? This process has helped to remove the fear and desperation (including needless energy wastage) that comes with being trapped under a dominant position. And as I get better, I hope to be able to increase the time it takes for more experienced attackers to get a sub, or to prevent them entirely. This will increase their frustration, their impatience (and hence foolishness), and their energy usage, all of which will give me an advantage.

So now this is 5 months or so after I first read this book. I think it is worth upgrading it to 5 stars, though my earlier criticisms remain. But I think it is worth 5 stars simply for nailing what every neophyte BJJer (and many higher belts) need to have down.

For several months I did almost nothing but practice surviving from bad positions. I ended up getting my back taken a lot, and practicing the scoop escape. I ended up getting really good at turtling (what Saulo calls "All-fours survival" IIRC), exactly as is shown in the book. Basically any time I felt my guard being close to passed, I'd twist chest down and bring my legs up - turtle.

If I was under side control, the side control survival position really lends itself to twisting your hips so that you land on your knees, and go to turtle. Or if you are leaning away from your opponent, just roll further and go to turtle. From the turtle you can either go to scoop or a double leg (you won't do this when you first learn, but after you get comfortable with turtling you will look for attack opportunities). Either scoop or double leg ends you up in side control, which is an excellent foundation for further attacks.

Everything works as he says - keep your hands close, and don't move them around much - just stymie. Keep your elbows tucked deep inside your thighs. When in back control, suck in those elbows and don't give them underhooks. If you don't give them underhooks and keep your hands up to stop the choke, they will not choke you and they will not armbar you. And you will eventually scoop yourself out of trouble.

Good survival frustrates the **** out of people. I had a blue belt say that "this isn't judo" when confounded by my new turtle skills, which is ironic seeing as I'm applying something straight out of a book by a 6 time BJJ world champion.

The mount escape and side control survival we have covered multiple times in class (maybe not in those words), but it is the back control/turtle survival that has given me tools other people in my class don't have. I'm also really glad I haven't looked through more than the introduction to each chapter. Sure, it has taken me 6 months and I'm not even halfway through the techniques of the second chapter. And that's how it should be - perfecting each technique and making it your own takes time. Getting good at BJJ is a marathon, not a sprint.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Game Changer and a MUST buy, May 8, 2011
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This review is from: Jiu-Jitsu University (Paperback)
I was a decent blue belt when I was told about this book,,,,
I studied the white and blue chapters religiously
then my defense got solid, the other whites. blues. purple browns could no longer finish me, only the good black belts.
This opens the door to ESCAPING!!
I then worked on escapes and sweeps, NO LONGER WORRYING about being tapped out. The escapes, sweeps and counters got better and then I was in position to submit others.
I am now a purple on the verge of getting a brown, in less than 4 years, training with world, adcc, pan am champions.
The GAME is now at my feet, it is so much fun and only getting better
This book is great in its ability to define what each belt needs to be working on, I call it the "BJJ Job Description", tell me my job in detail and i will work my ass off...

THANKS you to Saulo!

BUY it and study it daily, and you to will see how much fun BJJ can be,
best part is I am 45 years old. hanging with the younger stronger
Black is now a reality...
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Jiu-Jitsu book as of 2009, June 27, 2009
H. Martin (Austin, TX United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jiu-Jitsu University (Paperback)
If this is not the best book on Jiu-Jitsu then I want to buy whatever is better.

Everyone has pretty much given the run-down on this superb book so I will just touch on a few points that are of particular importance to me:

The breakdown by CHAPTER==BELT COLOR==GOAL, e.g., white=survival, blue=escape, is ESPECIALLY useful for those just starting jiu-jitsu or those teaching.

The white belt "survival postures" and the blue belt escapes from those postures are worth the cost of the book alone. Saulo Ribeiro has managed to keep the survival postures to a minimum (even for side mount where there are numerous top pinning styles and arm positions) and they all seem to work off the same principals and even a similar pattern.

Frequently, Ribeiro shows a better (according to him and his also multi-time world champion brother Xande [shandee]) way to do common techniques, and also shows the common mistakes including what is wrong with the usually given methods for that same technique.

This book immediately made me almost happy to have my back taken (by a similarly experienced and sized opponent) since the very simple defenses and escapes to those positions worked on the first try even though I messed up some of the details. (Really! -- my training partner is a bit stronger, heavier, younger than I am and he has quite a bit of judo training, but he can no longer hold me FROM THE BACK.)

Although the book stands alone, it is especially useful if you have any of Saulo Ribeiro's Jiu-Jitsu Revolution 1 or 2, or Freestyle Revolution DVD sets. Although you don't "need" one to benefit from the other, the text gives the few CRITICAL points which is good for memorizing the techniques, while the videos show the moving details in case you are having trouble or something doesn't make sense.

Although the DVDs and book overlap, their is no sense of wasting time or money when using both.

(BTW, he in no sense means that you must wait to become a purple belt to learn the guard, but rather that the FOCUS is on a particular goal or position for each belt level. In the case of a purple belt, he is saying this is where you focus on MASTERING the guard.)

Is there anything wrong with it? No index, but the contents is so good this is not a deficiency and the book runs the content RIGHT to the last page wasting no space. Crappy font for cover title but how picky can I get? A VERY FEW mistakes in left-right or picture correspondence -- or maybe clarity and I misunderstood, but that isn't very detracting, although I would offer to edit the 2nd edition if they ever re-publish it.)

The techniques WORKS right out of the box (i.e., book) and if you practice it then it is even more valuable.

Much of it is SPECIFICS on HOW to grapple using the techniques as examples rather than as the only answers -- he is teaching grappling using techniques, not JUST a bunch of (useful) techniques. Saulo is teaching us to fish (do jiu-jitsu) WHILE he feeds us some very fine fish (techniques).

If you are a low rank jiu-jitsu play you MUST buy this book if you buy anything.

If you are teaching jiu-jitsu, you owe it to yourself and your students to have and understand this book.

I am reasonably sure that anyone in between (i.e., teacher and low level) will find this book superb, and probably the best, as well.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the best instructional book i have ever come across, December 2, 2008
harmmoney (southwest florida) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jiu-Jitsu University (Paperback)
This is, by far, the best jiu jistu instructional book that I have ever come across. Not only are the pictures far supperior to any other book, but the insight Saulo provides is great (I have been training for over 2 years and found stuff in the white belt section I had not heard of). He shows you what to do and follows with an explanation of what not to do and why not to do it. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in jiu jitsu or mma.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome!, November 18, 2008
This review is from: Jiu-Jitsu University (Paperback)
Simply awesome! This book has it all. There are so many things about this book. The clarity of the instruction is great! Some books out there try to be too casual in the explanations and end up not getting the proper points across. This book however does get the points across. There are multiple angles of just about every move, so there are no detailes missed visually. The descriptions are very well written, that way no detail goes un-spoken. If you still have a hard time understanding, there are case studies in the book which help get the points across and give a very good demonstration of the techniques.

Saulo has a unique teaching style. In this book he either sets your foundation or re-works what you have. He goes into moves and explains not only how to do them, but how they work and very interestingly, what makes them not work! If you are looking for a good, one book collection, this is the book to get. If there was a Bible for jiujitsu, this would be it!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect, November 20, 2008
This review is from: Jiu-Jitsu University (Paperback)
This book is probably the best book yet written about sport Jiu-jitsu. Most books on the market are little more than technique databases which, while entertaining and useful for learning, always seem to neglect one of the most important aspects of grappling: proper positioning. This text contains a wealth of knowledge and may well redefine the reader's perception of BJJ.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The first BJJ book you need to own, September 13, 2011
This review is from: Jiu-Jitsu University (Paperback)
This is my first and currently only BJJ book I own. So I cant compare it to others, just rate it on its own merits and what it has done for me. When I obtained this book, I was a 2 stripe white belt with a decent top game but not much happening once stuck on the bottom.This book changed everything.

Saulo has created an amazing tool that took me from being a waiting submission target to developing a solid defense that even the best purples and browns at my academy have trouble submitting. Saulo says that when he met Helio Gracie, who was in his 80's at the time, Helio said to him "You may be good and strong, but you can't beat me." Saulo then rolled with the much older Helio and although he dominated him from the top position, he couldn't submit Helio. Helio's defense was just too tight. And this is the greatest thing so far I have gained from this book.

The book, amongst many other things, details survival positions that you should strive to get to from each disadvantageous position (eg. bottom mount, bottom side control, etc). I learnt these positions and incorporated them into my game. Soon the higher belts in class could positionally dominate me as usual but couldn't finish me with a submission. There is a great power to being able to survive with a high level purple or brown belt on top of you for the whole sparring session.

If you are just starting out in BJJ then I urge you to get this book. Survival is the first thing a white belt should strive to learn. Submissions and sweeps will naturally develop as you continue your journey.

Thanks Saulo.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Keeper, November 23, 2008
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This review is from: Jiu-Jitsu University (Paperback)
Of all the Jiu Jitsu books on the market today, only this one, the Marcelo's book on X guard & Joe moreira's 3 books ... others are just data dumps.
What makes Saulo's book head and shoulder above the others is that Saulo has successfully articulated the mind set, expectation, and needed learning requirements for different levels of jiu jitsu practitioners.
Minor drawback is that he did not get into more detail explanation of some of the moves i.e. running escape ...
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Saulo Ribeiro's BJJ Philosophy and Course, May 13, 2009
J. Park "JP" (New York, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Jiu-Jitsu University (Paperback)
This book has deservedly received a lot of great reviews. There are a couple factors that distinguish this book from other jiu-jitsu books covering different areas of the game (guard passing, maintaining guard, escapes, submissions, etc.):

1. Each technique is one that has been successfully applied against top notch competition by Saulo or his brother Xande Ribeiro, who is also a world champion in BJJ.

2. Each technique is shaped by Saulo's approach to BJJ, where emphasis is placed on obtaining good posture and position to facilitate both defense and attack. Attacks launched from bad positions are not going to succeed against a strong opponent. Instead, such suspect attacks will leave one open to a much more devastating counter.

The benefit of launching attacks from strong positions is (a) they are more likely to succeed; (b) even if the attack fails, you are less vulnerable to a counter; and (c) establishing good posture and position is also critical to maintaining a successful defense. In short, what Saulo attempts to do is establish core techniques which put you in good position to both defend and attack.

3. Saulo explains the risk minimization benefits of each technique, and also shows "mistakes" that, in his experience, hurt you. Ironically, some of those "mistakes" are standard moves. Basically, Saulo is saying that jiujitsu has evolved; don't stick with yesterday's moves against today's competition when the counter is well known. Saulo also shows positional reasons why he thinks some of the standard moves don't work as well as they used to.

4. Not all, but several of the techniques are linked together so you have a clear roadmap of what to do.

This book also has an interesting philosophy to organizing techniques, although I'm not sure I agree fully with it. Saulo sets goals for each belt. White belt is about survival (i.e., avoid submissions), blue belt escapes, purple belt The Guard, brown belt Passing the Guard, black belt Submissions.

This unique belt organization system has a couple of benefits. First, it makes the techniques incredibly easy to organize. If you have a half guard question, open up to the purple tabs in the book. If you're looking for an escape, check out the blue tab portions of the book. Second, this unique way of looking at belts meshes with Saulo's philosophy, that good offense is based on good posture, position and defense, because you can launch your offense confident that you are not vulnerable to counter, and even if you are countered, you know how to avoid submission and/or escape. Based on this philosophy, it makes sense to focus on survival (i.e., avoiding submissions) and escapes before learning top and bottom guard game and submissions.

The drawbacks to Saulo's belt system are that it's unrealistic. I can't see going through white belt level knowing only how to survive. This system may work if, as a white belt, you are only sparring with purple belts and above, but if you are also sparring with other white belts, somebody has to know how to launch an attack, pull guard or pass guard. Saulo seems to acknowledge this problem as he states somewhere in the book that he does provide his white belts with tools other than just survival techniques.

I am not trying to be critical of Saulo's belt system, despite some inherent drawbacks. Every approach to presenting the vast body of work that is BJJ has its pluses and minuses, and Saulo's unique approach is as good as any I've seen, and better than presenting random techniques.

It was also interesting to note Saulo's philosophy on The Guard position, which IMO is unique to BJJ and what made me interested in this martial art in the first place. Saulo believes that The Guard should be viewed as an inherently disadvantageous position because you are fighting both your opponent and gravity; therefore be aggressive in your guard. The standard attacks from the Guard and the counters to them are well known and not as successful as they used to be. Saulo believes that if you maintain good defense and posture on top and frustrate bottom's attacks, you should be able to wear bottom out with the help of gravity. Saulo is also a black belt in judo and he makes it clear that he prefers to dominate on top, not unusual for a BJJer with a judo background.

I don't think Saulo is alone in his assessment that standard Guard techniques are not as effective as they used to be. Eddie Bravo in Mastering Rubber Guard and Marcelo Garcia in X Guard basically say the same thing; they developed their specialty guard positions because they weren't satisfied with the declining results from standard guard positions. I guess as BJJ evolves the X Guard and Rubber Guard will also see declining success.

I only have three criticisms of this book:

A. No takedown section. It's not critical IMO because BJJ has always been about the ground game. However, without a few takedowns Jiu-Jitsu University cannot be called a complete book. You can always supplement with Dave Camarillo's Guerrilla Jiujitsu, which focuses on using judo's standup game to takedown and then transition to BJJ techniques to get the submission or an advantageous top game.

B. Most of the time (like 95%) Saulo is doing the action wearing a blue gi, but sometimes the white gi is performing the technique. It only takes a second to figure out, "Oh, it's the white gi this time," so it's a minor point. However, this book is so good and has such a high production value, it would have been nice to get these little details perfect.

C. Black belt submissions section is basic. Submissions are covered, but they are shown how to be done from one position. It would have been nice to see how each submission could be done from various guard positions, or while passing guard. However, it may not be possible to cover that much ground with each of the submissions shown.

In conclusion, this book is just phenomenal and it's obvious a lot of work was put into this book. The criticisms I make are really minor compared to the overall incredible quality and depth of knowledge presented. If you had to get just one book on BJJ, this would be it.

Both Saulo Ribeiro and Victory Belt should be commended for publishing the new gold standard in BJJ books.
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Jiu-Jitsu University
Jiu-Jitsu University by Saulo Ribeiro (Paperback - November 17, 2008)
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