I recently had an opportunity to spend a day alongside one of my favorite personalities in the jiu-jitsu community: Karel “Silver Fox” Pravec. A third degree black belt under Renzo Gracie, Czech-born “Silver Fox” (friends call him Fox for short) has been in the game for almost 30 years. Despite being what he calls a “scrawny middle-aged man,” he’s widely seen as a force to be reckoned with both as a practitioner as well as an instructor.
Being a fan of Fox for a few years, I was absolutely delighted at the opportunity to soak up as much of his knowledge as I could over the course of a training day. The day started out with the ride to his new academy in Butler, New Jersey, a new outpost of Silver Fox BJJ. During the drive I took the opportunity to ask some questions about his mindset toward training, teaching and a bit about his “Fluid BJJ” method, which is essentially solo drilling under water.
Once at the academy we got down to business. Initially I just flow rolled with Fox. We chatted about strategies–we are both partial to closed guard–and were soon joined by one of the gym’s purple belts, and adult black belt competitor Enrique Galarza. We started our hard rounds. Watching Fox dismantle the much younger and more athletic Galarza, and feeling somewhat helpless rolling with him myself, it quickly became apparent why he has such a formidable reputation. I can’t speak for Galarza but I was trying my best to not get submitted, to find entries of my own, and found it impressive how a man 40 pounds lighter and 20 years older was able to just handle me the way he did.
After we were done beating each other up, I asked Fox to show us a technique he is currently working on/refining, and he showed us one of his armbars in response to existing defensive options by the person getting armbarred. Enrique’s preferred defense was a bit different from mine, so Fox opted to demonstrate both:
After we were done training we headed over to the pool where the most informative and surprising lesson was delivered. I honestly underestimated the potential value of pool training–I figured it was a good low impact way to do solo drills, but hadn’t factored in the benefits of having to expel and then hold one’s breath. The key is to be able to sink in the pool while still retaining enough air to be able to do the technique…which isn’t as easy as it may sound. The sense of urgency to do the technique, coupled with the distraction of having to retain enough breath plus the resistance of the water, made the whole thing very challenging.
If you are interested in learning more about Fluid BJJ, Fox has a book available here. And if you are ever in New Jersey he has two academies that you can learn about on his website https://silverfoxbjj.com/