BJJ DVD: Brown Belt Requirements Review - Roy Dean hits another home-run

As I promised here, this is my review of Roy Dean's latest volume: Brown Belt Requirements.

"After all, this is your personal expression"

The music-lead voice of Roy Dean introduces this giant volume. The brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is quite an advanced rank and rolling with a solid brown belt is quite a humbling experience and that's exactly the feeling you get from watching the 3 minute flow of techniques that starts off this DVD: humbled. Humbled by the skill of presentation but also by the amount of effort and production quality that Roy invested in this product. We are treated to a variety of Roy's personal expressions of the usual techniques of jiu jitsu. Triangles, chokes, sweeps, leg locks and armbars are not just performed, they are expressed.

Roy doesn’t instruct as much in this volume. Rather, he shares. He shares his (and in some cases his instructor’s Mr Roy Harris’) experiences and expectations for the brown belt. I have tried to outline my review to reflect this.

Creating opportunity:

The key to getting good at submissions, which is the key to the brown belt stage as Roy explains, is pressure. We are treated to a number of expressions of this pressure. Chest pressure, shoulder pressure, bridging pressure and many others. Using placement and weight distribution, Roy shows pressure inducing techniques I haven't seen before. Some even from the guard (i.e. you are on your BACK exerting pressure!)

Leg locks:

Starting with the straight foot lock in a myriad of variations, Roy progresses to show heel hooks and toe holds. Beware, however, of the leg reap position he shows. Obviously brown belts have reached a level of awareness and care but it is an IBJJF illegality.

Bonus: Roy shows a sweet armbar you can pull off when you are being calf-cranked! This one surprised me so bad I started laughing uncontrollably like a village idiot!

"Remember: At this level, it's how you do it that matters the most."

Top game:

Starting with one technique (the americana), Roy shows many details of how to create the pressure before, during and after the submission entry and how that same pressure can open doors to further attacks and counter attacks.

Deconstructing the choke:

This was fantastic. I am passionate about BJJ but just as passionate about teaching and learning. Here, Roy not only teaches us a couple of details of the proper entry to the cross choke from mount, but shows us how to apply that same method of reverse-engineering to other techniques too. "Start with the end in mind", they say and Roy leads the way.

Odd positions:

Roy treats us to how to generate pressure and utilize it from positions such as the Reverse Knee on belly and the Reverse Sidemount.

Next Roy delves into the two reasons I have as to why non-advanced students should still buy this DVD (will talk more about that later)

Let's dive into Details:

Shin Sweep: from the side control escape and ends in an armbar
Bicep sweep from spider guard: Biceps slicer from both top and bottom with options.
Adjusting the armbar: The armbar from the triangle: changing the angle for the elbow. very nice!

Don't expect to learn how-to details of the techniques. For that, buy the Blue Belt Requirements. What you are shown here is deeper ideas and principles that power the techniques and allow you to exert your will.

Pressure when...

Passing the guard:

Scissor sweep counter: post out and change base
Single underhook pass: Make it a choke and don't actually pass.
What if they roll to turtle: three versions of clock choke. It's jiu jitsu detail Christmas!

Z-guard: dexterity and awareness of where his ankles are is shown in detail flowing into closed guard passing

Sprawling on the knee: killing the Z-guard potential and changing directions

Bull pass: very nice details on the exact timing and positioning to either pass or take the back

X-pass: Obviously, not the same level of detail as Saulo's own X-guard dvd but sufficient. Further, Roy shows an alternative finishing position that flows very nicely into a back take.

"Allow yourself to be vulnerable. On the road to brown belt, you've already tapped a  thousand times, so don't let one more bother you"   

Naples Seminar: Rolling

Excellent camera work. It was nice to see Roy show the many levels of pressure a black belt can give. He rolls no gi with seminar participants, the first of whom gives him (for the initial minute or two) quite a hard time before he picks up the pace and pressure. It's beautiful to see Roy apply many of the concepts he shows earlier in the first DVD.

This is followed by a thorough breakdown of the rounds. Roy happily explains the techniques he gets caught with. Sequences of importance are repeated in half speed. He shares the emotional / intellectual journey as well as the technical which for me is very important and I don’t think I’ve ever seen any one do this:

"It's the first guy so I know I have to finish him"
"He's a big dude. He's giving me some serious pressure so I decide I need to go to top"
"You can feel it, at brown belt (when a move can work even from wrong positions)"
"A brown belt should be able to roll with a room full of beginners and deal with it, strategically and technically. For me that's a brown belt requirement"

Rolling analysis: We get to witness a few rolls between Roy and his students TJ and Brendan. This is another gem that I always looked forward to in the Roy Harris instructionals and it's nice to see that Roy has continued his instructor's tradition.

Brown Belt Evaluation: David Bowerman*

"A brown belt is an individual who should have the ability to exert their will"

We are invited to share an evaluation of one of Roy’s purple belt students by both Roy Dean and his instructor Roy Harris. Many of the comments are from Mr Harris himself:

“When I start giving you the Countdown 10-9-8…etc. I expect you to know what it is I want you to finish”   Roy Harris

Part one: 

This is the usual demonstration of techniques against cooperative partners followed by a number of rounds against an increasing level of BJJ experience.

Nice to see the quality of Roy Dean's blue and purple belts as they test the metal of David Bowerman and help him, as the slogan goes, discover who he is.

Part two: The evaluation:

Mr Roy Harris spends a fair amount of time helping David understand how best to improve his game to meet the standards of the brown belt. He spares no details and drives home his point by demonstrating exactly what needs to be done. This part is truly worth the money alone!

Demonstrations: 5 of them!

It was nice to see David Bowerman from earlier feature in the demos as Uke for the first blue testing for purple.


Best Of Roy Harris: 3 Inspirational dvds in which Roy Dean features (amongst others). I have these from the good old VHS days and they are nothing short of amazing.

Purple Belt Requirements: What makes a purple belt?

Blue Belt Requirements: One of the best pure instructionals out there

Art Of the Wrist Lock: Intra-disciplinary look at wrist locking

No Gi Essentials: No gi is a slick version of BJJ and this is one slick instructional

The verdict? Buy it. Buy it now.

If you are an advanced student (upper purple), you will want to know these details and work with them. You will want them in your arsenal. If nothing else, you want the Naples Seminar Analysis and the detailed Brown Belt Assessment by Mr Roy Harris. That's worth the money you pay for the whole set.

If you are less experienced, I still think you should buy these DVDs for this reason: They give you hope.

Every time you roll with someone bigger, more experienced or both, it kicks your BJJ ego in the balls. It's part of the beauty of BJJ and how it humbles you but when we are broken down, sometimes we really need a pick-me-up: a display of elegant execution of technical prowess against a very mortal portrayal of how the ego plays in the background. Listening to a man who has NOTHING to prove share his thoughts so honestly and openly is a privilege and that's why I feel these honest (yet super-fly!) DVDs belong on every grappler's shelf. You can buy it from Budovideos here or download it from iTunes here.

Also, feel free to check out Slidey's take on these DVDs here.

*Nice to see a number of people sporting British gi brands


Liam "The Part Time Grappler" Wandi

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jin@combat sports fitness said...

Good review of Roy Dean's latest DVD. I have his purple belt requirements DVD and loved it. Sounds like the brown belt one is also a must buy. He is great teacher.

Liam H Wandi said...

It really is a beautiful and insightful set!