I remember being a white belt when Eddie Bravo put out his first twister book. It’s so easy to judge when you don’t know a person and when you’re unfamiliar with what they’re doing and their motives. I have to admit that as a not-so-knowledgeable white belt, I had a hard time believing the hype about his system. 9 years further along in my BJJ journey, I’ve seen a lot of Eddie’s videos and have noticed that he is humble and quick to point out that his moves were largely based on Jean Jacques’ influence and wrestling. If there was any doubt left in anyone’s mind, the rematch with Royler at Metamoris made it clear that his Jiu Jitsu wasn’t a fluke. Love him or hate him, Eddie Bravo has legit Jiu Jitsu and if you get the chance to visit his gym it shouldn’t be missed.
I sent an email in advance asking to come train and was answered by Eddie himself and invited to come in. Upon entering I was greeted by Edgar who was very friendly and welcoming. He had me sign the waiver, which is more extensive than most schools and speaks to Eddie’s business savvy. Students were quick to introduce themselves and very chill. Without the formality of everyone wearing belts there is a real feeling of equality a la knights of the round table. As soon as we stepped onto the mat, students started drilling and there was a breakdown of a video that just came out today showing a nasty leg lock when your opponent tries to escape your straight ankle lock. I noticed right away that the school encouraged curiosity and breaking down moves and coming up with new ones.
The gym is brand new and still under construction. It’s a nice mat space enclosed by a cage. There is ample room for changing and showers located in the changing areas. The water dispenser is designed for bottle refills which is nice for long training sessions. I liked the aesthetic and sharp logos on the mats and walls. Chairs line the outside of the mat for people who want to watch.
What to Expect:
Eddie has created his own terminology for his system. If you’re not familiar with it, expect to feel like it’s your first time in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. The good news is that the terms are very memorable and you’ll pick them up as you go. Expect a lot of drill time with several moves linking together. If you’re a novice grappler you may be challenged to execute all of the sequences but he repeats them for an extended period of time so you’ll get it eventually. If you’re a seasoned grappler, expect to activate some different parts of your brain and to feel outside of your comfort zone, which I really enjoyed.
After about an hour of warm-up, flow moves, technique, and technique chaining, there were 5 rounds of sparring for what I think was either 6 or 8 minutes. It seemed like the gym was more focused on drilling than sparring but there’s plenty of time to stay and get extra rolls in and I personally believe you can never drill too much. Rolling nogi without the aid of belts makes it hard to know what you’re getting into. I assume that everyone is at least as good as me and stay on high alert for surprise attacks and sweeps as well as foot locks and heel hooks.
Eddie is extremely detail oriented. I attended a 2 hour class covering a smash pass, twister side control, and the truck. He even threw in the electric underhooks(the lockdown with a same side underhook and an underhook under the far leg) and how it all linked together and it felt like I attended a week long seminar on the subject. I struggled to execute many of the moves because they were a departure from my Jiu Jitsu style. Nothing he showed required extensive flexibility(unlike the rubber guard) but it is pretty unorthodox and there are a lot of details that are critical to increase your chances of success. Throughout class he walked the mats making corrections and verbally guiding the group through drills and technique. His relentless focus on specifics helped me nail the positions and have a deeper understanding of the strategy and game plan he advocates.
As I watched Eddie it was clear he has an excellent foundation in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which you would expect from a Jean Jacques’ black belt but that seldom gets mentioned when people talk about Eddie. He has some really cool and unique dexterity with his legs that make his moves that much more lethal. I think people often look at his game as “gimmicky” but what they don’t realize is that; while his game is unorthodox, he’s extremely focused on weight distribution, disrupting base, and anticipating several moves in advanced like all high level grapplers strive to do.
Eddie was very welcoming and open to having a dialogue with me that spanned his previous fights as well as his school and upcoming EBI6. He’s goofy, laid back, and pretty damned funny. It’s a politic free environment and females will have more training partners than the average gym. Overall I really enjoyed the visit and would absolutely return both to learn and for the good vibes of the school.