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Jiu-Jitsu in the South Zone, 1997-2008: The Astonishing True Story of One Man's Eleven Year Journey from White to Black Belt in the Academies of the ... (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil) (Volume 1) Paperback – March 30, 2013
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About the Author
Roberto Pedreira is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under the legendary champion and teacher Sergio Bolão Souza. He has also trained and written about boxing, Muay Thai, taekwondo, hapkido, goju-ryu karate, silat, kali, savate. Jeet Kune Do, wing chun, judo, and wrestling, in Japan, Thailand, Korea, the USA, and Republic of the Philippines. He is the founder of the world famous "Global -Training-Report.com". Roberto Pedreira has written for magazines, newspapers, and academic journals, including Black Belt, Martial Arts Illustrated, Karate Bushido, The Austin-American Statesman, The Japan Times, The Korea Herald, The Daily Texan, Pacific Affairs, The Proceedings of the U. S. Naval Institute, The Journal of Social Psychology, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, Asian Journal of Social Psychology, International Journal of Psychology, Language, Language and Communication, Visible Language, Journal of Asian-Pacific Communication, Journal of Northeast Asian Studies, and others. Jiu-Jitsu in the South Zone, 1997-2008 is his first full-length book. He is also the author of the three-volume Choque: The Untold Story of Jiu-Jitsu in Brazil.
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* provides very interesting insights, for the BJJ geek, of what BJJ was in that era, and even a glimpse of what it was to become
* the photos alone, at the end of the book, are worth the purchase
* although not in detail it gives the reader some details of how some techniques were applied or created at the time
* unique in the sense that you won't find accounts of foreigners who trained in Brazil at the time, as well documented as this.
* There are so many Portuguese errors that at some point I stopped counting or minding the translations
* It's very anedoctal, so if you are looking for a thorough BJJ "history" book, this is not it
* the structure of the book refletcs the point above.
* Recommended for the BJJ geek.
The remaining caveat? I am an old friend of the author. That may bias me, but it gives me the perspective to talk about his qualifications to write this book.
We live in an age of internet wannabes, and strip mall dojos that award black belts for perfect attendance. Being a skilled martial artist does not a skilled writer make, but for what it's worth, Roberto is the real deal. I haven't seen him rolling in Brazil with any of the legends he met and describes in these pages. But I have seen him climb into the ring under a blazing sun at a Muay Thai camp in rural Thailand. His being four decades older than his sparring partners, and a farang, cuts him no slack. They are professionals, there to train, and he either keeps up, or gets carried out.
Outside the ring Roberto is a university professor. As one of his avocations he has amassed an encyclopaedic knowledge of martial arts, which gives him the context in which to place the BJJ knowledge he acquired while training. Research is natural to him after forty years in academia, and while training he used the unique opportunity to research BJJ, and interview anyone who would sit still for a few questions. Professional writing can be dry, but Roberto has also written book, movie, and restaurant reviews and some humorous tales of the misadventures of itinerant English teachers blundering around Itaewon. His prose won't make this a mainstream bestseller, but it is competent and witty, more than can be said about most martial arts books.
Why buy the book? If you are interested enough to have read this far, this is what you will find in the book. During the dozen years mentioned in the title, Roberto made a series of trips to Rio De Janeiro to study BJJ. During that time he sought out as many well-known schools and teachers as he possibly could, and wrote up what he found in each. When possible, and the Brazilians were for the most part obliging, he conducted interviews (many of which appeared in martial arts magazines, or on his Global Training Report website). He augmented this with research in the literature, unearthing Portuguese materials stretching back to the nineteen-twenties or earlier.
The ratio of legend to fact is high in all of the martial arts, but Roberto has managed whenever possible to get the real story from those in a position to know the facts. Some of his sources are in their seventies or eighties; the late Helio Gracie would be one hundred this year, had he lived. Original sources pass on; the reader is lucky that Roberto got to them before they did.
Perhaps the only downside is the author has a tremendous amount of knowledge of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu history, perhaps more than any other non-Brazilian, yet it didn't make it to the page. I know this is by design, as this book is more about training experience. I hope the author finishes the sequel with it's history soon!