Whether it be through competition or cross-training, inevitably every jiu-jitsu practitioner is forced to adapt their skill set to opponents of different styles. Regardless of your goals in jiu-jitsu, an investment in different sources of knowledge will invariably be of benefit. Too often, jiu-jitsu practitioners fall into the trap of disregarding the opportunity to learn another style because it isn’t their ‘game.’
In sparring with top-level gi jiu-jitsu competitors at the brown and black belt level, I’m finding that I have the most success not with the styles that they drill and often see, but with techniques I learned directly from the 10th Planet system. When speaking in terms of 10th Planet-‘specific’ technique, I am referring to the use of the twister game (a.k.a. the ‘Truck’), the rubber guard, and the half-guard lockdown. While these were more or less developed with a no-gi purpose in mind, their application within the gi can be just as effective as no-gi, if not more so. There are details within these positions that go noticeably unstudied even amongst some of the best in sport jiu-jitsu, arguably due to stereotypical stigmas more than the actual merit of the techniques in question.
As times evolve, so too must our perceptions. 10th Planet athletes are ubiquitous at all levels of the grappling arts. The ADCC championship has had a recent influx of 10th Planet talent on its roster, among them Geovanny Martinez, Elvira Karppinen, and Adam Sachnoff. Vinny Magalhaes, a 2011 ADCC gold medalist, aligns himself with the 10th Planet camp despite originating from a Gracie lineage. 10th Planet boasts over 100 schools worldwide, including 20 in the state of California, seven in the United Kingdom, four in Australia, four in Canada, five in Latin America, and several others both within the U.S. and abroad. The trajectory of the team is growing as they are introducing more and more people to the art for the first time, and it’s time for even the staunchest of critics to give credit where credit is due.
There’s no shortage of deference towards the masters of their craft in Eddie Bravo’s books. In his Advanced Rubber Guard book, he directly credits Marcelo Garcia as the ultimate player of X-guard, even going so far as recommending Marcelo’s book to study the topic in greater detail. He defers to Lucas Leite as the premier dog-fight half-guard player on the planet. Eddie also repeatedly credits his professor Jean Jacque Machado as an all-around wizard of the art, referencing his details in numerous positions throughout his books.
A few years back at a Rigan Machado seminar, I recall Rigan crediting Eddie Bravo for giving names to different positions that already existed in jiu-jitsu but didn’t have a specific label to act as a quick reference. Rigan went so far as saying that he is beginning to give names to positions that he creates, directly in line with Eddie’s pioneering efforts. John Danaher continually has respectful words to say about the 10th Planet team, recognizing them as a force to be reckoned with on the competitive scene as well as a hub for technical development that helps push the sport forward.
In 2011, UFC fighter Chan Sung Jung caught the first Twister submission in UFC history against Leonard Garcia. This serves as a monumental milestone for 10th Planet, as it solidifies the twister’s place as an MMA applicable technique at the highest level of competition. The twister itself is intimately connected to the standard back mount position, creating a new option and angle of attack for anyone who chooses to learn it on a deeper level. For anyone concerned about IBJJF legality, while there is an interesting backstory as to how the Twister became banned from IBJJF competition (see Mastering the Twister), the connection to the banana split and crotch ripper submissions serve a dutiful purpose as they are in fact legal to perform at the white belt level. The calf slicer that lies adjacent to both submissions is legal at the brown belt level. Most every berimbolo system out there includes a slice on the ‘twister’ hook back-take variation. Even if your goal is ultimately not to finish with the twister, learning it can add a new dimension to your back control and back attacks.
In 2014, Eddie Bravo famously fought Royler Gracie at Metamoris 3 in arguably the most talked-about match of the decade. Throughout the match, Eddie caught Royler numerous times with the electric chair sweep utilizing lockdown half-guard, ending the match with a variation of the sweep to land in the ‘vaporizer’ submission, a calf-slicer with virtually no ability to counter from the perspective of the opponent. Despite having years of experience on Eddie, Royler had failed to study Eddie’s unique system and thus did not appreciate what he was going up against. Everything that Eddie performed in that fight was laid out step-by-step in his books, DVDs, and his website. He charges $5 a month for access to all his techniques on 10thplanetjj.com, a reasonable price in comparison to jiu-jitsu websites of other reputed figures. While we can truly never know what an alternative outcome would have been had Royler studied Eddie’s material, the effectiveness of the techniques were put on display that night for the jiu-jitsu world to see and it created a significant ripple effect.
The rubber guard continues to be used within MMA and sport jiu-jitsu competition, acting as a way to hinder the opponent’s ability to strike while remaining offensive at the same time. 10th Planet standouts Richie ‘The Boogeyman’ Martinez, Ben Eddy, and Jeremiah Vance display high-level rubber guards in the sport and combat jiu-jitsu realm. Vinny Magaelhaes, Shinya Aoki, and Ben Saunders have displayed it in mixed martial arts competition. As a system based around clinching your opponent and advancing towards a submission from that clinch, knowledge of the rubber guard principles are critical in defending against them. Whether or not it is your game or you have the requisite flexibility to perform it at its full potential, it would be short-sighted to state that you refuse to study it merely because you don’t choose to play it on a daily basis.
The advent of the internet has made the availability of jiu-jitsu knowledge more widespread than ever before. A technical error in a jiu-jitsu competition can quickly be broken down, studied, and referenced with sources to add color to your game. 10th Planet has solidified its place as a jiu-jitsu mainstay, becoming a household name within the jiu-jitsu world in its one and a half decades of existence. Whether or not you choose to attend a 10th Planet school in the future, whether you agree with non-jiu-jitsu related topics spoken about by its founder, the technical principles that reside in their style warrants study. If you choose to overlook it, you may soon be tapping to someone who didn’t.