Film Study for BJJ

I was asked by a student (Pete) how I watch video for BJJ and I believe video is an source of information and is one of the reasons for that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu evolves so quickly. People are studying matches and technique more than ever before, but there are a couple of traps to watch out for. 

Lovato training with Marcelo Garcia

Here is me narrating a training session roll between Marcelo and Lovato. I have trained with Lovato for many years and I have studied Marcelo Garcia a ton. It was great to see them training together and putting that video footage out there. 

Here is one of Marcelo Garcia instructor’s Paul Schreiner narrating a different roll of the day with Marcelo and Lovato. I have a very high opinion of Paul and the material he puts out there so hopefully between what Paul sees and what I see you can pick up how we look at rolls and analyze them.

Avoid the Youtube rabbit hole

If you are new to the art, avoid letting the google algorithm decide which techniques you should be watching because at this point you are a poor filter for what is good and bad information. Similar to when I am amazed at watching someone lay bricks on video, but to someone who does it for a living watches that video and they say that technique is garbage and there will be gaps in the mortar (I don’t know anything about bricklaying). Same thing with BJJ, it is easier to get a camera and nice lighting than it is to spend 10,000 hours mastering a technique, so I would stick to trusted sources. 

Stick to mostly your style/association

Luckily for me my instructors Saulo Ribeiro and Xande Ribeiro were putting out excellent technique videos, plus they were competing. There weren’t too many videos back then, but there were videos of Saulo and Xande competing. So you could actually see what worked. I remember when everyone was watching Mario Sperry videos, but you they weren’t actually training with Mario Sperry, so if you ran into a problem you would have to ask someone else or some up with their own solution. If you just grabbed a random person’s video, it always felt like you were gluing pieces of a car together rather than really designing it from the start. From a software developer’s perspective, it felt like the decision tree could just keep getting bigger and bigger, where if you stick with one system then decision tree simplified over time. The same concepts ran through the moves so your body could just do certain things on autopilot.

I had a problem with a move from Saulo or Xande I could just go to class and ask them. So it is best if you can stick to people in your association as a starting point. I have spent so many hours training with Xande that if you have a question on something he shows, it usually is something I have encountered as well. So I usually point people to Saulo, Xande and Lovato as first places to look at. 


That being said Xande’s biggest rival was Roger Gracie, so I loved to study his matches. I thought his pressure passing style was very similar to what we were doing, his focus on the mount and closed guard as well. In the same vein today. The problem with Roger is that after 2007, he didn’t compete as much as others so there was less video. Now there is more video of his technique and rolling thanks to his member website. I always appreciated the simplicity to his game and it always felt like a very similar take on jiu-jitsu to what Xande and Saulo were doing. 

Another person I always loved watching was Marcelo Garcia. The butterfly guard was something that Xande was always great at and then his x-guard was something I always gravitated to as well. Marcelo was similar in some ways (guard, amazing half guard passing), but his short and stock body type was different, but he was a faster athlete than I was so making so his hand fighting work for me was challenging. He also focused a lot more on the back than the mount. But his guillotine and fast armbars from the overhook and underhook suited my game. He was one of the first to adopt a member website that included live rolling so you could really get a feel for his timing. Watching him roll reminded me a lot of Xande where they would force the same patterns over and over again on their opponents so you could really see what they were working on each roll. 

Other notables I have liked over the years were Leandro Lo who I felt was able to take a lot of things from Marcelo’s x-guard game and take it to a lankier person’s body type through the use of half-spider guard. Lucas Lepri is also a person that I found easy to watch with his cross knee pass being similar in idea to what Saulo would do. 

For leglocks I mostly look to Lachlan Giles, I think his ability to break down information is superb.