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What it says it is, just short and opinionated
on January 1, 2011
This book is exactly what it says it is- a short guide for people who are just starting to think about getting into grappling/BJJ. It is basically a series of very short essays (think blog posts) collected together that would give a new person an introduction to the politics and workings of a BJJ school. It is the kind of advice that a knowledgeable friend would give you if you spent 15min with him over a cup of coffee. I would not recommend this to anyone who has spent more than a month or so training (you should have already figured it out by now) or to someone who already has a martial arts background (there is nothing new).
Here are some of my specific criticisms of the book (in no particular order):
- It is very short (~900 kindle locations, probably 60pg if it was printed). I don't have a problem with short in and of it self, but...
- Each essay was his own opinion from his own experience. There wasn't much to flesh out his thesis. I didn't disagree with them, but they frequently were one dimensional. For example, his argument for wearing gi was that it made it easier to advance in belt rank (three paragraphs). He gives a token paragraph to the difficulties of going from years of training no-gi to figthing someone in a gi and a token paragraph to its utility in street fighting. There are alot of benefits to training in a gi that have nothing to do with rank which he completely ignores (friction, competition, etc).
- He included a chapter on Charlatans, but doesn't ever really tell you want to look for when evaluating a new school. Sure an experienced guy can see if the instructor knows what he's doing, but what about some poor Mother trying to find a place for her fifteen year old son to train? Personally, I like to watch the interactions. Do the instructors have control of the class? Are people respectful to one another? What does the atmosphere feel like (friendly, angry, fearful, etc)? How are meat heads dealt with? etc.
- The book is poorly organized with the chapters scattered about. This isn't a big worry as short as the book it, but sheesh.
- It would have been nice if he had included some other points of view in the book. The chapter on training with women is great from the "don't let your ego interfere if the little girl taps you" perspective, but it is sadly lacking from the "women want you to train with them, not coddle them" perspective. As a woman, I can't tell you how many times I've had to tell guys to do the drill properly, because they are afraid they are going to hurt me, etc, etc.
- Finally, the book would have benefited from a few extra chapters dealing with some of the grappling specific frequently asked questions. Not an instruction book, but maybe a chapter explaining some basic terminology and positions. ie, what is base, what is the difference between cross sides vs side control vs side mount (yes, I know they are all the same), etc. The terminology learning curve can be frustrating for both the newbies and their more experienced partners. Given the audience for the book, this would not have been superfluous.