Our gym was fortunate enough to bring in Sean Roberts for a seminar Saturday, January 25th of this year. Unless you've been living under a rock Sean has become a very familiar name within the Jiu-Jitsu community after his participation in the brown belt kumite not that long ago. At least for me, I didn't know of Sean until that tournament but he certainly caught my eye as an excellent competitor.
The Ralph Gracie black belt has been traveling all over the U.S. with his fiancee (also an excellent grappler) for seminars at a very reasonable rate...far less (a fraction) than average especially when you consider the fact that he's a high level competitor with a great deal of knowledge. I have been to many seminars with world renowned grapplers and have always come away with the hope that if I can gain a little bit of knowledge, a concept or two then I'm doing pretty well. One can't expect to implement every single detailed shown at most seminars into their game.
Sean showed up and was very pleasant to talk to. He asked everyone to grab a partner and roll at about 50-60% intensity, play your game if you will. He walked around and observed everyone periodically stopping and chatting with each person and asking what aspects of our game we want to improve, what difficulties we run across, etc. Rather than focus on one particular area for the duration of the seminar Sean showed us many different parts of his own game that he felt would answer some of the questions people were asking him during the early, rolling portion.
Sean was up front and said we were more than welcome to take pictures and video of the techniques but did reserve the right on a couple to be shown towards the end. As soon as he said that almost everyone grabbed their phones and were promptly recording. It's not often that guest instructors allow this so it was definitely a bonus.
He started by showing an interesting sleeve grip break from the standing position that I had not seen before and was very effective. He moved on to show a couple ways to pass the spider guard that were familiar with some new wrinkles added. They were simple and very effective. Sean at one point stopped to say that he feels like his game isn't overly fancy but simple. At about the mid-point of the seminar we switched from focusing on guard passing (top side) to the guard game. Sean showed us one of his preferred methods for setting up the omoplata from open guard. From here he showed a sneaky sweep when the opponent tries to hop over into side mount on top to escape the omoplata. Sean also showed a couple ways to better maintain control from the shoulder lock position and finish with a couple different submissions (shoulder lock/armbar).
During the last two techniques Sean did ask that no one record them as he preferred to keep them a bit secretive. I won't go into detail but will say that one was an excellent half guard sweep and the other was an escape from a nearly back mounted position. Both were very good and I can understand wanting to keep some things off the web.
At the end of the seminar Sean opened up for a Q&A on pretty much anything. He has a great sense of humor and was fun to talk to. Sean then rolled with every single person that was interested in a 5-6 minute rounds. He methodically picked his way through all of us upper belts until he finished up with the last willing participant. I think Sean took one, 5 minute break for a drink of water during this. It's no wonder his cardio was so good for those ridiculously long matches at the brown belt kumite. Sean was able to repeatedly hit some of the techniques (particularly the secret sweep) over and over again on everyone. People were literally laughing because this sweep was seemingly unstoppable. You could tell that he had perfected the timing and just hit it at will. I can personally say that Sean doesn't dilly-dally with what he wants to do. I know there were times where he gave up a little space for me to recover but when he wanted to pass he didn't waste anytime passing the guard if that is what he wanted to do. His size definitely put me at a disadvantage combined with his skill set was fairly overwhelming. It was a great roll and a good reminder that he is on a whole different level than most people. I did have the pleasure of rolling with his fiancee, Elizabeth, who is about a 115lb purple belt. She was super technical and had a great open guard game. It's not often I get to roll with smaller, technical people as I'm usually one of the smallest guys at my own gym.
Overall this was probably the best seminar I have attended in terms of value. The techniques Sean covered were not overly difficult for an experienced white belt all the way to black belt. I spoke with almost everyone after the seminar and got the impression that everyone left with some knowledge and nothing but good things to say about Sean.
Metamoris 3 is right around the corner and will be featuring Sean Roberts vs Zak Maxwell on the PPV card.