Marcelo Garcia’s holds two honorary titles.
First, he’s arguably the best pound-for-pound Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter alive.
Second, he’s the nicest guy ever. That’s less debatable.
Marcelo’s newest book, Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques, opens with an introduction by Josh Waitzkin that tells wonderful stories that illustrate both of these points. Here’s a personal story to attest to Marcelo’s niceness.
In 2006, I attended a two day seminar by Marcelo in St. Augustine, FL. If I remember correctly, I was one of about 30 people there. I may not be remembering correctly, because the gym was over 100 degrees and didn’t have any A/C or ventilation, and I was on antibiotics after having the flu, so I almost passed out from heat stroke. Marcelo was an attentive instructor and went around the room to check on everyone’s drilling, but other than that, I didn’t have any special interactions with him.
A while later in 2007, I had a chance to go to a second seminar in Hollywood, FL that was hosted by my friend Leo Kirby. Right when I walked in the door, Marcelo beamed a big smile at me and said he remembered me from St. Augustine. He even remembered who I had come with to the seminar, and how hellishly hot that place was. He told me that the purple belt who had hosted that seminar was also an Olympic long distance runner, and he’d told Marcelo that getting a purple belt was as much work as getting into the Olympics.
It surprised me that Marcelo remembered me at all. After all, he’s one of the greatest submission grapplers of all time, and I was just another random blue belt that happened to go to one of his countless seminars. But that’s just how friendly Marcelo is, and he was happy to see me again like no time had passed.
To give you insight into how Marcelo approaches BJJ, Waitzkin writes about how Marcelo is driven to learn and perfect every physical activity he tries. I have a dumb story about that too.
During a break in the seminar, I twisted up a water bottle and shot the cap at a friend. Marcelo’s eye lit up when he heard the bang and came running over to see what I’d done. He wanted to learn how, so we scrounged around for empty bottles, and I showed him how to twist it up and pop it. When I left him, he was still gathering bottles out of the trash to try popping them.
The next morning when I came into the gym, Marcelo ran up to me with an empty bottle already in hand. He wanted me to show him more details because he couldn’t get it to shoot as cleanly as I had. What followed was a surreal exchange where I’m giving a black belt world champion a serious lesson on how to get the most power and range out of his water bottle caps.
While I went to get changed, my teammate stayed with Marcelo and his wife Tatiana, and later he told me how Marcelo kept grabbing up bottles and carefully twisting and shooting them while his wife shook her head and said “Why did you show him this? He’s like a big child!”
That pointless story out of the way, let’s get to reviewing the book. Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques is split into six chapters, as follows:
- Establishing Back Control
- Submissions from Back Control
- Attacking the Guard
(Note that x-guard isn’t listed because his aptly titled book The X-Guard already covered it.)
Each chapter is organized by related techniques (such as counters to counters) or attacks from the same position, and each technique follows a logical progression. You can see the efficiency in Marcelo’s style even in how well each move he shows fits together.
Chapters start with an explanation of Marcelo’s philosophy towards what he’ll be showing, and this offers great insight into how he thinks about his jiu-jitsu and picks or rejects techniques. For example, at the bottom of “5 Lessons Learned from Writing Marcelo Garcia’s Next Book” by Marshal Carper (one of the book’s coauthors), you can see a video from the book’s photo shoot where Marcelo takes the controversial stance of not doing any arm-in chokes (like the d’arce) because he feels they use too much strength.
Throughout the book, Marcelo’s technique is, of course, flawless. Marcelo teaches his best techniques and zero fluff or filler. If you own his DVD sets or subscribe to MGInAction.com, you’ll have seen most of the material before, but despite that, I found it pleasurable to see Marcelo’s extremely refined game clearly explained in one place.
Speaking of MGInAction.com, they promote Marcelo’s subscription-based instructional site at the start of the book and have little “helpful hints” on using MGInAction.com throughout. Those of you with memberships can tell me how helpful they really are.
The book’s photographs and writing are excellent, as we’ve come to expect from the publisher, Victory Belt. Marcelo wears a white gi, and his partner wears blue, and the photos are big and clear, so it’s easy to see what’s going on. They got everything right putting this book together.
All in all, Marcelo Garcia’s Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques is fantastic. It’s easily one of my favorite BJJ books, and at about $20, it’s very affordable. Make sure you buy a copy or put it at the top of your holiday wishlist.