As the sport of MMA evolves and improves, its fans also evolve to become more knowledgeable and appreciative of the finer points of the sport.
Fight fans are really starting to gain a full awareness of how exciting MMA really is. As fans become more educated about what it is they are watching, they learn how to truly appreciate the poetry of combat taking place during a fight.
A gleaming example is the frenzy which was created at UFC Fight Night 24 when “The Korean Zombie” slapped on a grueling and rare “Twister” submission on Leonard Garcia. No one outside of jiu-jitsu circles had ever seen anything like it.
Those inside jiu-jitsu circles knew it all too well. It is a signature move for a certain jiu-jitsu wizard, creator of the 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu system, Mr. Eddie Bravo. Bravo is a jiu-jitsu icon who has deep roots in the mixed martial arts community as well.
His name became common among casual fans recently when he was credited with being the source for Chan Sung Jung's Twister submission, a technique that riveted the entire MMA community. Bravo took a moment to talk with Hurtsbad MMA about not only The Twister but other topics as well, including his pick for Georges St-Pierre vs. Jake Shields for the UFC Welterweight Championship.
Bravo's reputation speaks for itself. It is the foundation that became the catalyst for his jiu-jitsu system 10th Planet. His quest as an instructor has high aspirations but is still young in the journey. Such is apparent when looking at the select few who have earned black belts under Bravo.
Eddie told Hurtsbad MMA, “There was two, then it became four and now there are six. Still that's nothing. Compared to Gracie Barra, they probably have a thousand. Not that they aren't good or don't deserve it. They have just been around a lot longer. They have had a lot more time obviously to groom these guys. Hopefully, one day I will have as many black belts as Gracie Barra. That would be amazing.”
One of those black belts is an astonishing up-and-coming fighter Sean Bollinger. Sean at one time was one of two black belts of Bravo's system and now is one of the lead instructors at 10th Planet Riverside, a satellite school.
Bravo raves about his student Bollinger. “He is just so talented in so many different ways. Not only his jiu-jitsu which really is amazing, but his striking is really good too. He is just a natural fighter. I expect big things from him as far as the striking goes. He's got power, he has a good left hook. He is coming along beautifully.”
For Bravo, who aspires to spread his system wherever he can, he had this advice for those seeking out jiu-jitsu as a sport they might like to engage in. He discussed selecting a school.
“Bad jiu-jitsu is better than no jiu-jitsu. Some towns are so small you really don't have a choice. You might end up with a douche bag instructor but just suck it up and learn as much as you can. Really what it's all about is having a place you can go every night and practice.”
Bravo went on to say, “If you want to get real picky, your instructor is a good instructor if he has an open mind and he doesn't act like he knows everything. He should be willing to bring techniques he's not that good at into his system.”
He added, “Obviously, if an instructor thinks he knows it all and thinks that if he doesn't know it that it's low percentage or flashy. Obviously, a guy like that is just going to stifle your game.”
As for those seeking to study in his system in particular, he talked about what a prospect should expect to find with the 10th Planet System.
“The number one goal with 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu is creating the best possible system of grappling when someone is trying to punch you. The majority of the system is a clinching based system. The clinch is a defensive posture. When someone is trying to elbow you or punch you, you want to clinch and stay close, especially if you're on the ground.”
He bluntly stated, “Whether you're on the streets in the cage, this style of jiu-jitsu is geared towards a clinching style. It's all about defending against someone trying to smash your face.”
As for students of the game, Bravo was very excited to talk about two young grappling phenoms eight-year-old Dominick Batara and his sister 16-year-old Kyra. He raved about their potential.
“Both of them are aspiring MMA fighters, and they are off to a great start. Especially Dominick he is starting so young. He has been wrestling for a couple years now; he is only eight. He did the Gracie Nationals and literally ran through everybody. He just took everybody down.”
He chuckled as he talked about Dom's humble demeanor. “He is just a little kid; he really is. He is a real shy, doesn't talk much, but he is all business when it comes to getting on the mat. It's incredible the pace he is on now, kids get sidetracked, but if he doesn't and stays on this pace, he is going to be making some serious waves in the MMA world and the grappling world as well. He is off to a tremendous start.”
Bravo also had high praise for Kyra as well. “His sister as well, Kyra. She went to the Gracie Nationals, and she also has tremendous potential. It's very hard to find a wrestling program for girls but where she is from they have a lot of girls in her wrestling program. So she is very fortunate to have a large group of female wrestlers that she can roll with and compete against. She is off to a tremendous pace as well.”
These kids are true class acts and extremely hard workers. Bravo's evaluation is an extremely honorable example of just how impressive these two young athletes are. When he says they run through competition he means like a hot razor through melted butter. Remember the names Dominick and Kyra Batara.
While it is his students and prospects like the Batara kids that excite Bravo, it was when Hurtsbad MMA asked him about things, he would like to see brought back or changed in the sport of MMA that he really opened up.
This is a man with a long history with this sport and the grappling arts in particular, and his wisdom should hold a lot of weight in the MMA community. He shared his take on everything from striking to clothing rules.
One of the things Bravo would like to see brought back, “I would like to see knees to the head of someone who is on their knees. I think there is a big loop hole that is being exposed, getting away with not getting hit in the face with a knee by putting one hand on the mat.”
He added, “I would like to see stomps and soccer kicks, I would like to see Pride rules, that's what I would like to see come back. Why can't you knee a guy because he's on his knees? Because its going to hurt too much? What about a kick straight to the face, isn't that going to hurt? Who cares if it hurts?”
“It's just a bunch of rules made up by people who really aren't too sure about what the hell they are doing.”
With his grappling pedigree it was no surprise to hear Bravo's take on stand ups.
“I like elbows too. I like everything, the less rules the better. For me as a fan, I would like to see absolutely no stand ups. The five rounds are short enough, if you have to stand a fighter up, the matchmaker made a bad decision bringing those fighters in.”
He explained, “You would never have to stand up a Shinya Aoki fight against a Javier Vasquez; you wouldn't have to stand them up. But you have to stand up guys that suck on the ground; those guys shouldn't be fighting anyway.”
Another thing that really bothers him is the regulation of clothing in MMA. “Also the ban on wearing pants is ridiculous as well. They are letting fighters wear rash guards in amateur MMA; it's not a problem. I think fighters should be allowed to wear rash guards, more sponsors and more money for them.”
“They see it as a problem somehow. It's not a problem when girls wear rash guards; it's not this big problem where we have to do something about the rash guards. They aren't just being ripped off and people aren't grabbing onto them, there is no problem.”
“They made the rules about not wearing pants or clothing because it's just so dangerous; that is just ridiculous stuff.”
Bravo went on to talk about other issues he has as well.
“Meanwhile you're allowed to grease, you're allowed to Vaseline and nobody is doing anything about it. There are no tests to see if somebody is greasing. And fighters do it all the time. It's standard, especially for fighters that don't want to go to the ground. It's like every event they are greased.”
Extremely interesting insight from a man who has deep understanding of the game of MMA. His knowledge and perception is truly invaluable. So with that in mind Hurtsbad MMA had to ask who Eddie Bravo is picking to win the main event at UFC 129.
Bravo has tremendous respect for both but was very candid about his thoughts on the fight.
“I love Jake Shields to death, I really do. And I love GSP as well. I just don't see how Jake Shields is going to be able to take GSP down and keep him down. No one has really been able to do it, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch, they haven’t been able to do it and those guys are high level wrestlers.”
“The odds are I don’t think Jake Shields is going to be able to take GSP down. And GSP has some sick stand up so I don’t think its a good match up for Jake Shields.”
Class in session fight fans. This guy knows his MMA and he is picking the champ to retain his title.
Speaking of class in session, Bravo talked about how honored he was to receive credit for that famous Twister submission mentioned earlier.
“I thought it was amazing. That was a great moment in my life, even though I'm not fighting or competing or anything. To have him give me credit, saying that he learned that from me, that's just amazing. I appreciate it so much.”
Nobody has ever pulled the move off in the UFC. Bravo was not surprised to see the move attempted though.
“I wasn't surprised. Japanese guys and Korean guys are really open to 10th Planet philosophies. I saw it coming, but I didn’t really think he was going to be able to pull it off to be honest with you. I was like 'he's going for it', but a lot of guys almost go for it then they don't pull it off.”
“But he did it, and it was amazing. It was such a brutal looking finish; the world freaked out. I mean everyone freaked the hell out.”
Indeed, we did freak out. And that is a breath of fresh air. It shows that fans are indeed evolving to appreciate more than just the brutal KO. They are seeing the true game for all it was intended to be.
Now, through the theories of Eddie Bravo, fans can't wait for the next unorthodox submission. It is great to see him teaching not only directly to his students but indirectly through his influence across the sport.
It was an absolute honor for the staff at Hurtsbad MMA to earn a moment of his time and to tune in to the wisdom of a true master of pure MMA. The knowledge on display during this interview was undeniable—and extremely informative.
This article originally featured at Hurtsbad MMA.