Saturday, February 24, 2018

Relson Gracie Seminar Thoughts

Thursday I attended a Jiu-Jitsu seminar by Grandmaster Relson Gracie, hosted by Professor Marco Moreno of The Basics Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. I want to share a few thoughts on the seminar for anyone who wants to attend one in the future.

Marco runs a great academy. It isn't huge but he has what appears to the plush green Gracie mats installed.

I trained there once before, when Marco hosted a Rener Gracie seminar. Everyone was friendly and approachable.

The cost was a bit higher than other seminars I've attended recently. It was $100 for two hours. I figured it was worth it to spend some time with a Jiu-Jitsu red belt who lives in Hawaii. I only had to drive about an hour to participate, which is cheaper and easier than a flight across the country and the Pacific!

Relson taught a kid's class before my seminar. I did not see the class but I saw him interacting with the kids afterwards. It is clear he loves teaching Jiu-Jitsu and interacting with young people.

We had about 50 attendees, including the instructors. Relson brought several other black and brown belt school owners or instructors from his association with him. They were happy to help the white belt newbies like me.

As you might expect, Relson focused on self defense. He described a twelve page "book" that contains everything he thinks you need to know about Jiu-Jitsu for self defense. I don't know if such a book exists, but it was still a useful metaphor for organizing his material.

Relson taught three stand-up techniques and three ground techniques. He called each one a "page" in his book. The teaching method was to demonstrate the technique, then give students time to drill each one.

The first technique was a passive defensive stance when facing a potential threat approaching from the side. He recommended standing with the hand closest to the threat over your face, fingers covering your nose. Keep your elbow against your ribs. With your far hand, wrap around your midsection and cover the area below your near elbow. It is deceptively simple and looks very "weak," but it is an intriguing way to be prepared to defend oneself. From that position you can use the high hand to block a punch, and then clinch.

The second technique was a defensive hand posture plus what I've heard Prof Sauer called the "pissau." It's the same kick you saw Royce Gracie use in the UFC. The hand position reminded me of a yoga eagle pose -- hands up, elbows down and crossed to shield the face and body. Relson also tucked his chin behind his lead shoulder. From the kick you can shoot for the clinch.

The third technique was blocking an opponent's attempt to shoot for the double-leg takedown. It's a standard brace against the opponent's shoulders followed by a knee and clinch.

The next three "pages" covered ground techniques.

You use the fourth technique when on the ground, in an opponent's guard. Look for an opening to control the opponent's biceps, similar to a Gracie Combatives approach. After gaining arm control, smash the opponent's face with head butts. Relson showed how he could squirm forward if his opponent tried to push him back with his legs.

You use the fifth technique when on the ground, and you have the opponent in your guard. You gain control similar to Gracie Combatives punch block position one, except you put your left foot on the opponent's hip, and reach behind your leg while trapping his right arm. You control his left arm using the Gracie Combatives punch block position two. Relson showed how he had complete control over Marco (his demo partner), slapping him every which way. Marco was a good sport!

You use the sixth technique when on the ground, and the opponent has you in side control. Relson keeps one knee up for connection. Relson worries about the top person dropping elbows on his face, so he used both arms to shoot upward, then control the opponent's northern shoulder with both of his arms. If his opponent switches hips to face Relson, he chokes him after moving one arm. If his opponent switches his hips in the other direction, Relson reaches over and immobilizes his top arm and rolls him into a side mount.

After the six techniques, Relson talked about the Roger Gracie - Buchecha match. He said Buchecha didn't know how to defend the RNC and Buchecha could have submitted Roger when Roger crossed his feet.

The seminar finished with Relson and Marco promoting students with stripes and belts as appropriate. Relson was kind enough to sign my copy of the Gracie master text. I now have Relson, Rickson, Royce, and Rener.

Overall I was glad I attended the seminar. I had no problem with the self defense focus, because we have a similar approach at Prof Sauer's academy.

Relson was very engaging and kept everyone entertained. He answered questions and was very friendly. I liked when he said "now you kick the butts" after gaining control over an opponent. He told us to not pass the guard or use a triangle in the street. The former would result in bloody knees and the latter would result in your foe slamming you to the asphalt.

Thank you GM Relson for visiting northern VA and to Prof Marco for opening his school to visitors!

Have you attended a Relson Gracie seminar? Let me know here or on Twitter!

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