This past weekend I sat down with Budo Jake to discuss his new instructional, "Going Upside Down" - a video all about the basics of inverting for jiu jitsu.
After years of producing instructional for other Martial Artists, you decided to make your own on the subject of inverting. Why inverting and not the Jake-O-Plata?
That's a good question. I've had quite a few guys ask me to make an omoplata instructional and I probably will at some point in the future but for now I wanted to focus on inverting. The reason is because I hear so many athletes complain that they don't like to invert, or say they can't berimbolo. I think the main reason is that instructors aren't breaking things down enough. I wanted to show guys how to easily add inversions to their bjj game. It's hard to go from zero to berimbolo but if you use the drills and concepts that I show in Going Upside Down, almost anyone can easily become an inversion master.
What do you say to those that Inverting isn't true BJJ or is only good for competition style jiu jitsu?
Well I would first ask what is true BJJ? Is true BJJ only doing what the first generation Gracies did? If so, that's a trap that I don't want to fall into. Yes, it's important to respect your roots but innovation is what keeps BJJ alive IMO. Jujutsu in Japan stagnated and that's why there are very few people still practicing it. It flourished in Brazil because they weren't bound by tradition. Any time an instructor tells me I have to do a technique this way because that's how Carlos Sr or Helio did it is the day that I look for the door. Now if the instructor can explain WHY he did it that way than I'll be happy to learn.
As to whether inverting will work on the street, no I would not try that, but really there are a lot of BJJ techniques that I wouldn't try on the street. The way I see it, inverting is just another tool that you can have in your arsenal. It might not work in all situations but there are many times that it will allow you to recover guard when most other guys would get passed or to set up some unique sweeps or submissions.
Do you think it's absolutely necessary to know how to invert in order to compete in today's BJJ scene?
I wouldn't say it's an absolute necessity but it will absolutely help you if you can! Just watch guys like Rafa Mendes, Caio Terra, Cobrinha, Ryan Hall, Jeff Glover, or Cyborg and you'll almost always see an inversion if they're on the bottom. There are guys that can make old school BJJ work on anyone but inversions are used by a lot of these high level guys for good reason. They often catch their opponents off guard and inverting also creates movement, it allows the match to flow.
*Cyborg going upside down at ADCC
Most of those guys you mentioned, outside of Cyborg, are generally smaller, more flexible players. You're also a smaller and somewhat flexible player yourself which would lead some to believe that inverting will only work with small, flexible guys. What's your take on this?
I don't think inverting has anything to do with height, but it does have to do with flexibility. I talk about some of this on the instructional. Guys that will have problems inverting are guys who can't touch their chin to their chest or can't touch their toes on the mat when rolling backwards. These are things that can be worked on. I think smaller guys get better at inverting quicker for a couple reasons. One, they get their guard passed by bigger guys which necessitates the inversion and two, since they are smaller they can fit in the small spaces under their opponents. Still, you see big guys like Braulio, Keenan, and Cyborg doing it so I think everyone can benefit.
How and why did you begin inverting?
I started inverting 3 or 4 years ago. I've always like movements that used rolls. Thinking about it now, it was probably when Nino Schembri showed me his omoplata from leg lasso that really got me thinking about inversions. I was never a fan of just hanging out upside down but I quickly saw that I could incorporate inverting into my attacks but more importantly to recover guard. I still find that inversions often cause confusion on your opponent. They aren't sure if they should pressure in or back away. It's always good if you can confuse your opponent lol.
So what is exactly covered on your new DVD?
First I show some competition footage from various high level guys that are inverting. Then I cover everything that you need to know if you have never inverted before. It includes a ton of solo and partner drills. I want to emphasize that inverting is something that needs to be done in a safe controlled manner to start. It's not a move that you should try for the first time against a sparring partner twice your size. So I show all the ways to develop proper and safe inversions. The drills start very slow and safe to more advanced and finally with resistance. After practicing the drills, you will be well on your way to developing a hard to pass guard, and will be ready to start learning sweeps such as the berimbolo and kiss of the dragon.
*Example from "Going Upside Down" DVD
Who were you most inspired by when you decided to make this DVD?
There were 2 main inspirations. One, I saw what a big difference inverting made in my own game. It allowed me to flow more and defend and attack from different angles. Two, I've taught seminars on inverting and I saw how surprised a lot of students were. Even black belts, there are many who never inverted before. So I realized that while a lot of high level guys can do it, no one is breaking inversions down in the smallest details. I want to make sure that people are shown the important details that will make inversions work, and more importantly won't get them hurt in the process.
Would you recommend a DVD like this for white belts?
Yes, I really wish I had access to instruction like this when I was a white belt. I think Budo Dane said it best, "inverting turns your jiujitsu from 2D to 3D". It allows you to move in a different plane. BJJ can be overwhelming for a white belt and there are so many fundamental skills the new student needs to learn, but I think being aware of inverting would only help.
Will there be a follow up DVD?
Possibly. I think there are already a few resources out there for guys that can already invert. Samuel Braga has his Berimbolo DVD, Ryan Hall has a set also. Again, what I think was lacking is a solid introduction on how to invert. Maybe I'll do something on attacks and sweeps later.
Any hope for Android users to see a mobile version?
For sure, this is a question we get all the time. Rest assured, we're working hard on it and I don't think it will be much longer!
Check out a preview for "Going Upside Down" here: