Friday, May 17, 2013

DVD/Instructional Review: Rafael Lovato Jr. Pressure Passing System - Guard Passing Section Review

I am going to break down my thoughts on the "Pressure Passing System" of Lovato Jr.'s new DVD/instructional.
I am notoriously slow at digesting instructional videos and often spend 2-4 weeks attempting only a few specific techniques daily in training and drilling before moving on to any others. I find I get more done and accomplished with dedication to 1 or 2 things in terms of implementation rather than watching a whole DVD and randomly hoping some particular techqnique comes to me whilst rolling, but I have digressed.

The DVD has 4 sections in total -
Competition Breakdowns
Forcing Half-Guard
Pressure Passing
Submission Hunting

Today I'll be examining the Pressure Passing portion/volume in detail, with the other sections reviewed at a later date.

I've broken down my review into further sub sections and cheesily ranked them by belt color:
white belt - hardly worth watching or noting
blue belt - middle of the range. not bad but not great or good. passable is the best adjective here, often feels like a review with perhaps a few details you may normally gloss over.
brown belt - worth watching and noting, seems like some effort was made in this area and often has an "ah ha!" moment or clarifies a gray area for you.
black belt - excellent. top notch, about as good as you could expect or want.

Production Quality: brown/black belt - it's nothing mind blowing but it doesn't look like a painter's tarp is hung in the back corner of a jiu-jitsu gym somewhere and there's drilling going on for class in the back ground. Feels professionally done. The editing is effective but most of the sections are filmed as one continuous shot. Lovato does a good job of making you feel like you're sitting in front of him on the mat and he's explaining it to you. It's hard to articulate why this is, but it's an interesting effect that definitely drew me in as a viewer.

Elaboration on Theory: brown belt - it is a concise (quasi-brief) explanation as to his development in BJJ and what led him to work guard passing after having been a bottom/guard player for so much of his BJJ development. I know it is difficult to find that perfect mix of being concise with your elaboration and not droning on, but I would have preferred a bit more analysis as to how his guard passing is part of his larger game and a bit more in depth breakdown of how he came to develop his style of passing.
Many BJJ players though will probably be just fine with his brief overview of development rather than a 20 minute diatribe ala Rener.
Lovato doesn't drone on for minutes at a time with anecdotes or unnecessary information pertaining to the upcoming techniques. He also doesn't drone on much about why he prefers this system other than how it pertains to his attitude about jiu-jitsu and his goal to pass directly into mount. That was the biggest takeaway for me, that his pressure passing has the end goal of passing directly into mount IE: it is not just another avenue to pass, but rather a passing system to get directly to mount. The distinction is important. He is not forcing a back take or passing to hit his favorite whatever lapel choke. He wishes to pass to mount directly.

Length/Number of Techniques: purple belt with some stripes - the techniques are not that many to be honest, at least in this section/volume. I would have appreciated a bit more variety in his pressure guard passing. He shows some good details regarding stripping the grip on your ankle from De La Riva and a few other positions, but honestly, those are things I've picked up by watching other competitors. This is both good and bad. Wrapping your brain around the system is passable and makes sense. Lovato covers the expected responses of most players in a way that is simplistic but makes sense and easy to grasp. Overall, at $147 however, it feels a bit short changed. As I've noted, the brevity of the section is a good and a bad thing: it allows you to wrap your brain around it conceptually in one viewing straight through, rather than the mind blown overwhelming feeling of being hit with 40 techniques sometimes seemingly unrelated or tenuously related at best. However, at the price, it's tough not to feel like the volume which provides the title of the set should have been longer. That being said, what would have rescued this section and made me have no doubt about the price would have been some flow drills, showing how the guard passes fit together (think Leandro Lo on top in competition). I would have been much more interested in seeing some half speed/50% drilling with him moving between the different passes in reaction to his opponent. As it is, it ends up feeling a bit short.

Depth of Explanation for Individual Techniques: brown belt - again, a motif develops in this instructional: the strength of the DVD is also its weakness. The explanations are direct, clear, and easy to follow, but for what you're paying, it's hard not to expect more in depth analysis when your hands move a few times and there's a short series of moves in total.

Ease of Use in Rolling: brown/black belt - I can only speak for myself but I have very easily and quickly implemented this style of passing into my game. Several of the passes simply work very consistently for me and fit with my overall style of passing.
I don't know if this is b/c they are simply good, fundamental jiu-jitsu, happen to fit with my style which I'd previously been told was a very pressure-passing/grinding style, but it's hard for me to score this DVD, or rate it rather anything less than a brown or black belt when I've seen so many other instructionals with moves and techniques I've never used nor been able to implement into my game.

Overall Rating: This is very tough for me b/c the quality of the jiu-jitsu here is clear and effective. It's easy to follow, easy to drill, and for me it has been quickly implementable. I do not have a taste for fancy or lower percentage moves nor even what's currently en vogue. I'm a big fan of basic, fundamental jiu-jitsu and this definitely fits that description.
I have only just begun to sift through the other volumes, but the 4th volume in particular felt lacking/feels a short one with some competition examples and by some I mean a pretty brief amount. Thus, you're really buying 3 sections of a DVD which totals out at a bit over 3 hours. Again, this is only a breakdown of the pressure passing section, the section of which I was primarily interested in. I would say it is good, but not great, in that 2 of the 4 sections total are not really guard passing instructionals per se.
Overall due primarily to the price: Purple belt. It's better than a basic starter blue belt kit for guard passing as it organizes a system in response to typical reactions by the bottom player but I would have a hard time recommending it at the $147 price to a belt higher than myself in BJJ (3 years Blue belt) especially when considering the price. For that I would prefer to find a high level black belt, buy a private and have them fine tune the nuances of how I already pass the guard, and maybe add in a single pass. The production quality, teaching articulation, and implementation of the techniques are great. However, the depth of the material when paired with the price hits the overall rating relatively hard.

Excerpt -
Now onto some of my gripes in brief that will be elaborated on in a follow post:
Competition Examples Portion: white/blue belt - I was excited about this section in particular but found it to encompass roughly 5 matches and hardly enough to show the effectiveness of the system the way you can go watch the Mendes bros. on youtube demonstrating the efficacy of their individual styles......To be continued......

"No, really. I'm going to pass your guard."

1 comment:

  1. Lovato did a great job doing the Pressure Passing System. I also made a review of it on my blog: As a guy who gets tired a lot (lol), his moves really helped me increase my control. It also killed a lot of the modern BJJ stuff which is also cool for me.