Every year at the IBJJF World Championships, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fans pay close attention for the next big up-and-comer — the next athlete to turn heads and make a statement about cementing their place as a budding force on the scene.
This past year, Roberto Jimenez submitted all ten of his opponents on his way to taking double gold in the adult purple belt division, in no small part due to his ability to take the back from unpredictable positions and submit.
Full disclosure: as an athlete who competed against Jimenez recently in the brown belt division and getting submitted from the back, I took a considerable interest when he recently released some of his methods on his new DVD, “Attacking The Back Every Match,” available currently on BJJ Fanatics.
In this exploration of the back position, Jimenez divulges various tried and true methods of taking the back from the most common situations that one may encounter in a BJJ match, including from standing, passing various types of guards, bottom closed guard, open guard, side control, and top turtle position.
The Alliance brown belt impressed me with his precision and clarity in explaining his details — a trait that mirrors one of his main teachers, Lucas Lepri. It’s rare to find a black belt that presents each one of their moves in a systematic, easy-to-follow format, let alone a brown belt. Jimenez passes the instructorship test with flying colors, which comes as no surprise has given that he runs a gym in Vegas full-time with his father Raul Jimenez, a BJJ black-belt himself.
In this four-DVD set totaling over two and a half hours of material, one thing that stands out immediately is Roberto’s guard passing skills. While the scope of the DVD is essentially back-takes from every conceivable position, Roberto takes it a step further by connecting many effective guard passes to his signature skill set. I found his ability to deal with the De La Riva guard of considerable interest, as it is only when the pass is mostly complete that he shifts his intentions toward the back. Opponents that try to throw complicated De La Riva and reverse De La Riva variations at him play right into his game. Jimenez makes notable use of the gi grips to stuff the De La Riva hooks, bringing to question whether there are similarly effective variations he uses in his no-gi game. Notable, however, is the combination of grips he employs to take the back. While each of his back-takes invariably ends with a choke, he mixes up the order with which he obtains his necessary grips based on what the opponents give him.
One thing that stood out and a major takeaway of mine is the finishing mechanics he employs on his gi chokes from the back. While it is conventionally taught to extend the opponent once the choke grips are cinched, I noticed how Roberto repeatedly mentions that he likes to compress his opponent towards him and close off the distance between his chest and his opponent’s back in applying the strangle. As the focus of the instructional is acquisition of the back position, there were brief discussions of different finishing mechanics employing the gi — the main submission that was the focus of his back-takes is the classic two-collar choke, pulling one gi grip down to take out the slack for the other gi grip to apply the choke.
One of his quotes stuck out to me: “I don’t go flat if I ever want to take the back.” This is exemplified in several of his moves as he makes it a point to cut an angle and achieve dominant grips while his opponent looks to stack him and bridge backward to either escape the back or prevent the position from happening altogether. It’s important to take note of the areas that he mentions to pause and wait for his opponent’s reaction. While this may seem redundant to say, it underlines the importance of being aware of the availability of space that one needs in order to create a favorable angle. He subsequently imposes positional pressure to get his opponents to react in a predictable fashion.
Roberto references at least two other black belts in his DVD. In explaining a back take from half-guard, he references Lucas Leite as an innovator of the position and presents his own interpretation on the half-guard master’s signature back take. Additionally, Roberto credits his friend and training partner in the DVD, Renato Canuto, as the originator of a back take variation from the 50/50 position, a variation that presents a unique and conceptually sound solution to the ubiquitously frustrating guard. Roberto also employs a back take from standing made famous by Renzo Gracie in his recent fight against Yuki Kondo that landed Renzo the back and a subsequent rear-naked choke.