It’s time to continue my review of How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent, the latest BJJ instructional DVD set by Emily Kwok and Stephan Kesting. We now move on to DVD 2, “Compensating for Strength.”
That vague title doesn’t give any hints to its contents, so I’ll spoil it for you: Emily teaches 1) open and half guard, 2) guard passing, and 3) escapes from side control and mount. At nearly 2½ hours long, this is the longest of the 5 discs, and it is crammed full of techniques.
To start the DVD, Emily shows her guard gameplan that includes butterfly guard, one legged x-guard (AKA leglock guard), x-guard and half guard. She presents a good primer on each of these guards, explaining its core strategy and teaching 3-4 solid sweeps. Like always, Emily’s technique is crisp, and her explanations are clear and detailed.
Her one legged x-guard material is especially interesting because you can’t find this guard covered in much depth outside of some Marcelo Garcia’s videos. I picked up new details on it that I’m excited to put into practice.
Speaking of Marcelo, you can see the mark he’s left on Emily’s style, and she points this out herself. The lists of guards above could easily have been taken from Marcelo, and if you are familiar with Marcelo’s game and philosophy, you can see parallels in what Emily teaches throughout this set. More than the individual techniques, I enjoyed hearing about Emily’s attitude towards jiu-jitsu practice and competition.
This next point will help you decide if this DVD is for you or not. You can find more in-depth instruction on most of these guards in other DVDs, which may be good or bad for you.
If you don’t already own instructionals like Kesting’s butterfly and x-guard DVD or half guard DVD, then you’ll be happy with Emily’s condensed explanation of these guards and how she lays out a cohesive gameplan where every move is high percentage and dovetails into the next.
But if you already own DVDs on these guards (by Kesting or another BJJ black belt), then you’ll be familiar with most of this material, which may be disappointing if you are looking for new techniques.
That said, there is a danger to always seeking “new” techniques and not being happy with the old faithful ones that work. And it’s also not as if Emily is teaching boring closed guard and cross collar chokes circa 1995—she shows modern, advanced open guards. It’s just that other DVDs have taught them too.
The sections on guard passing and escapes follow the same story: the quality of instruction is very good, all of the techniques are high percentage, and if you don’t have the time or money to watch a bunch of instructionals, this is a smart buy because it packages a lot of good material in one place. If you are experienced or watch a lot of instructionals, you’ll likely have seen most of the moves already and may wish for more.
To be fair to Stephan and Emily and their intention for making these DVDs, their target market is clearly beginners who are still struggling with the fundamental problem presented in the set’s title: “How do I beat someone bigger and stronger than me?” As a brown belt who has seen dozens and dozens of BJJ DVDs, I’m not who this set was created to help.
That’s not to say it’s worthless if you have seen most of the moves before. Higher belts can benefit from seeing techniques explained by a skilled teacher with lots of tips and tricks, and it’s valuable to hear an experienced black belt explain their mindset and why they choose certain moves and strategies. There are certainly techniques I want to drill again thanks to Emily, even if I have seen them elsewhere in the past.
My overall opinion of this DVD is the same as the first disc. It’s a very good resource for beginners, especially white and blue belts, and I’d recommend it to them with no reservations. Experienced guys may want to take a look over the chapters first to see if enough of it catches their interest. There is no faulting the quality of the instruction, so it simply comes down to how much you need what Emily and Stephan offer.
Next time, we’ll review “DVD 3: Top Five Moves.”