Monday, August 26, 2013

Caio Terra Seminar Review

Caio Terra is easily one of the most visible and vocal competitors in recent years.  His gym, Institute of Martial Arts is based in San Jose, California.  He has not only built a gym with excellent competitors and instructors but he has been spending a great deal of his time traveling the globe giving seminars.  In addition to this he has established over a dozen affiliates throughout the country.

I have been following Caio Terra for the last 4 years both in competitions and his instructional DVD's.  Being a small grappler myself, I can relate to a lot of the techniques that Caio teaches and uses with a a lot of success.  His dominance in major tournaments speaks volumes about his abilities and I have found his teaching methodology to be fairly easy to follow.

When I heard a local gym would be bringing him in for a two day seminar I jumped at the opportunity.  Caio has never visited Texas for seminars and considered myself lucky that he would be in my own backyard.

Day 1 (Gi portion)
Caio gave our group about seven topics of things we could focus on for the gi portion of the seminar. The majority vote would decide on the focus for the techniques he would show.  We chose to work the De La Riva/Berimbolo stuff.  Caio made a comment about this before starting.  He said, "most of the time everyone wants to work really hard techniques because they think they are better...the reality is they are just harder." That seemed funny at the time but was a great point.  I think sometimes we tend to over-complicate Jiu-Jitsu and lose sight of the importance of executing clean, basic techniques that are high percentage...or at a minimum easier to achieve a higher level of understanding.

Caio began by showing how to initiate and maintain the DLR guard.  He also pointed out that dragging your opponent to the ground for Berimbolo can be very laborious (which I totally agree with) and that it is vital to break down your opponent in order to get it.  One might not necessarily go straight for it by pulling/yanking on them and trying to force but first to hide your intentions with lapel and/or sleeve grips.  His methods for initiating the sweep were a bit different than what I have previously studied.  I have spent a great deal of time utilizing the Mendes brothers stuff so it was good to see a different perspective.  In some ways it was a challenge to execute his technique as I tended to get confused on occasion due to my muscle memory.  So over the course of day one we covered the following from DLR guard:

1. Back take (Babybolo)
2. Leg drag from Berimbolo (probably my favorite)
3. Back take from Berimbolo
4. Mount from Berimbolo

This may not sound like a lot of techniques but it really was.  The amount of detail Caio shows could be overwhelming for a white belt but necessary.  We ended the day with Q&A over anything we wanted, even techniques which were not covered during the seminar.  This was excellent as he showed us how he sets up and finishes his secret ankle lock attack from DLR guard.  Video below shows him hitting this same ankle lock in a recent IBJJF tournament.  He has used this same submission against Fabio Passos (Cobrinha black belt) in competition a little about a year ago.

Caio Terra vs Fabio Passos

Caio rolled with pretty much everyone that was interested after pictures were taken.  It was apparent pretty quickly he intended to triangle choke every single victim opponent.  When it was my turn we exchanged some pleasantries.  I attempted a sitting guard-->single leg technical stand-up which he quickly shut down.  I joked about it and he actually allowed me to attempt it again which I managed to get and sweep he let me. As I was attempting to pass towards the back he started to invert a bit and forced me into 50/50 guard (see exhibit A):

Exhibit A
That week I had been working on some 50/50 guard stuff from his half-guard DVD (specifically the ankle lock) and was pretty nervous in this position with him as he's known to be a killer with leg locks.  As I was battling for grips he stood up and began removing the 50/50 guard and moved quickly into side mount.  As I was preventing the cross-face he slid into mount, trapped an arm, and threw up a triangle rolling to his back. This happened so quickly I really didn't see any of it coming.  I defended pretty well but he transitioned into an armbar to finish the roll.  I lasted maybe 2 minutes.  I can honestly say that he is the smoothest I have ever rolled against.  I have experienced world class black belts pressure, explosiveness, etc. but Caio never exhibited any of those traits.  He was just smooth as can be.  There was nothing wasted...simply efficient.

Day 2 (Nogi portion)
At the beginning of the second day, Caio reiterated that we chose a difficult topic the day prior and he would pick for the second day...something much easier.  We spent the entire second day working from the side mount.  The focus was on moving to north-south, trapping the far side arm with an over hook and moving into side mount on the far side to eventually finish the armbar.  We worked the following scenarios:

1. Finishing same side armbar (2 different methods)
2. Switching sides to far side armbar (2 different methods)
3. Finishing the armbar many different ways on the far side based on your opponents responses to defend and interlock their hands.

The nice thing about this particular series was that after each variation, he would add a layer or option depending on your opponent's response or attempt to escape the submission/position.  It is worth noting he covered the armbar he managed to finish with against Jeff Glover at Metamoris earlier this year.  (Video is linked at the bottom of this article.)

Again, it may not sound like a lot of material but it really built layer upon layer from beginning to end.  I probably got more out of the second day for some of the basic concepts that I had not seen before. There was no rolling at the end of the second day but again he allowed questions which I took full advantage.  I asked how to finish the ankle lock from 50/50 when your opponent hides their feet really well (particularly figure four).  He showed multiple ways to attack the non-hidden foot by way of ankle lock and toe-holds. One of the great concepts I took away from it was almost anytime your are working the 50/50 guard...if you want to sweep, submit, escape you have to be willing to make space with your hips.

Overall I think it was a very good seminar.  Caio showed some excellent techniques and details. I do get the impression that Caio is a perfectionist while showing technique.  There were some moments when he appeared to get a little frustrated with his training partner while trying to show technique.  Some positives to take away from those moments that should be applied during training are the following:

1. The training partner should never feed any moves; don't make the technique easy because the reality is most techniques will not be easy to apply on a resisting opponent.
2. The training partner should react naturally (not necessarily defend) but use good posture when stuck in DLR guard rather than slumping over, don't just lay flat on your back while your partner attempts Berimbolo, etc.  These are not natural during a live roll so why would you do this while training?  Giving that much natural resistance makes it more real for the person attempting the techniques.

Something else worth noting.  After circling up to review some of the covered techniques, if someone had a question about a detail he would have them perform the move in front of the group and then correct the issue.  This is good for both the people directly involved and also the group.  Being able to evaluate what others are doing or having issues with may answer some questions for everyone involved.

All in all it was an excellent two days of training.  I might not recommend a Caio Terra seminar to a white belt but every one's learning curves are different.  I've seen my fair share of blue belts that have a hard time keeping up with the level of techniques during some seminars.

Things Caio has upcoming:
1. World Jiu-Jitsu Expo in November.  I asked him if he had an opponent and he said that had not been determined yet.  Stay up to date on this event here:
2. Pan Jiu-Jitsu Nogi Championships the last weekend of September.
3. Rumor has it that Caio will be launching an online training site.  I confirmed with him via Facebook that he indeed plans to launch the site.  No target date was provided.

I'd like to extend a huge amount of thanks to Collin Grayson for hosting the seminar.  He provided most of the pictures for this article.  He is also now the first and ONLY Caio Terra affiliate in Texas!

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