I wanted to say a BIG thanks to Stephen for taking the time for the interview, so in addition to a BJJ review of the course, I wanted to give a special bonus to folks who bought Stephen’s course through my page here. So, my “Foundations” course is now a FREE Bonus JUST for people who get in on Stephen’s course here. Click below to see his course, and email me if you end up investing in it – and you’ll get an extra “Thank you” from me. All the best!
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was created by a frail man who developed a system of a weaker and smaller fighter beating a bigger and stronger opponent based on the principles of technique, momentum, leverage, and kinesiology. This martial art shocked the world when the UFC first was introduced to the world and Royce Gracie was beating bigger, stronger, and more athletic opponents with ease. As soon as Royce shocked the world the – sport and are of “BJJ” took fire.
In our modern times we see people of every race, age, sex, nationality, and creed in this amazing sport we call Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Some of the older grapplers have noticed trouble when fighting younger opponents and are more susceptible to injury. Those troubles are addressed by Stephen Whittier, a top black belt over the age of 40, in his new course BJJ over 40. I was afforded the opportunity to check out the course and I’m going to break down all the DVDs and give a review on this ground breaking course.
The first Disc in the series is all about escaping bad positions. Personally I find it crucial to drill escaping bad positions for beginners because so many times we focus on trying to be flashy and submit our opponent when our fundamentals are lacking. One of the key concepts mentioned in this video is prevention. For example if your guard is being passed, turn to your side while being passed instead of when they have settled into the position. He introduces a drill that I perform almost daily at my academy. In the drill you start by passing the guard and starting to settle into side control.
As you begin to settle the fighter on the bottom will turn in to defend the pass, once this is done the fighter on top spins to the back, and the fighter on bottom repeats the process. This is particularly good for older grapplers because it will prevent you from being pinned in uncomfortable pins. Older grapplers should be concerned about protecting their neck in escapes because they do not recover nearly as fast from injuries as younger grapplers and Stephen covers different tips and tricks to protect your neck.
The second disc in the series is all about the guard. The guard is one of the best positions to be in as an older grappler because in BJJ you are controlling your opponent if you are in guard. Guard is one of those unique positions where yes you are on bottom but you are also in control. He talks about all the different types of guards for older grapplers and proper placement of your body which will ensure your success. Unlike most instructional DVD’s I’ve seen, he goes into detail about different ways to defend a pass and retain your guard. As we stated before it is crucial for older grapplers to be able to protect their necks and not get pinned down into positions like bottom side control and knee on belly. He covers some sweeps from the different guards as well. I particularly enjoyed his set ups from the spider guard.
The third disc in the series is all about passing the guard. When on top passing the guard to a consolidated position should be our number one concern. Often this is where many Jiu Jitsu practitioners lack and they will be trapped in someone’s guard an entire match and lose on advantages. He covers some traditional guard breaks that lead into the different passes. I like how he shows that once you are standing in the open guard and have grips on the pants, you can go into almost any pass you feel confident in. Most of the passes are pretty fundamental but he shows the different options you have once the opponent starts reacting to the pass. I like how he covers passes for all different game plans. So if you want to be flashy and dance around the legs with an X-pass or grind their will out with a crushing knee cut, Stephen has you covered.
The fourth disc in the series is all focused on the top side control position. He covers all the ways to grind your opponent out and make them feel miserable with the amount of pressure driven into them with proper positioning and weight distribution. He also covers some basic submissions from here but the best part of this video is how he shows to retain the position. As soon as you start threatening a side control, your opponent is going to react and fight back hard. As an older grappler you don’t want to be in a scramble with a 22 year old ball of energy. These techniques will enable you to keep the top position or too take a better more dominate position such as mount, north south, or knee on belly.
The fifth disc is all centered on power positions. Power positions are defined in this video as top full mount and back control. I recommend all of the older grapplers I work with too formulate their game around these positions. It doesn’t matter who you are fighting, if you are in a power position you have the tools necessary to control and win the fight. A common theme we have seen in these DVDs in maintaining the dominate positions and he does not fall short in this one.
He shows all the different ways you can stay in control when your opponent tries to escape. He also shows some killer submissions most of which become available when your opponent incorrectly tries escaping your dominate position. This DVD with the conjunction of the others can help you formulate a game plan appropriate for an older grappler.
Disc 6 is titled “Attacks” and is comprised of different submissions from top mount, side control, and bottom full guard. One of the concepts he covers is how proper positioning will open up the submissions for you. If you have a strong, consolidated position you will open up your opportunities. Fighters will attempt escapes and passes from these positions and when they can’t get them, they really open themselves up to be submitted. If you are a fan of arm and shoulder locks this is defiantly the DVD for you. He shows a plethora of submissions from top side control all focused around the arms and shoulders.
The 7th disc in the series is a bonus disc which covers different drills to increase your BJJ game. It is proven that drilling is the best way to sharpen your skills and you can drill so many ways. There’s solo drilling, flow drilling, partner drilling, grappling dummy drilling, and the list goes on and on. He goes from position to position covering the different ways to either consolidate the position against a resisting opponent or how to escape the bad position. I like these drills because it gives both of the fighters drilling a chance to work their respective aspect of the position.
In conclusion I’ve got to say that this is probably the first contemplation of techniques and strategies designed for the older grappler and I like it. It goes back to the roots of BJJ with David beating Goliath.
No matter what age you are, you can enjoy this great lifestyle that I have fallen in love with,
PS: I wanted to say an extra thank-you to Stephen.
Coach Daniel is the founder and head publisher at Science of Skill, LLC. A martial arts black belt and self defense instructor, Dan has spent years training with and interviewing some of the world's best self protection experts. His passion lies in encouraging others to train smart and to improve the skills that make them safer and stronger.
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