Company: Panther Productionss
Name: Gracie Brazilian JiuJitsu - Blue Belt Techniques Volume 1
Tape Cost: $29.95
Length of Tape/Time: 44 minutes
Number of Moves/Techniques: 11
Return Policy: for damages and defects
Experiences in dealing with this company: Fair
Instructor: Carlson Gracie Jr
Company's Address: 1000 Century Blvd, Midwest, OK, 73110
Company's Phone Number: 1-800-626-2787
Web Page:

Primary Grading Criteria:

1. Production/Tape Quality: 9
2. Instructors demonstrated skill level: 10
3. Comprehension Score/Immediate Understanding: 8
4. Degree to which this will make someone a better Martial Artist: 8
5. Score on delivery vs hype: 8
6. Degree to which we would recommend this product: 8
7. Wasted Time ( The higher the number, the less " fluff" /repetition ): 10
8. Playback Score/Watching if over-and-over again: 8
9. Would I purchase more of this company's products: 9
10. Overall grade based on cost vs. value: 9

Grand Total: 87 % (Fair = 1.75 Stars )

Secondary Grading Criteria:

1. Beginners benefit: Good
2. Intermediate benefit: Fair
3. Advanced benefit: Fair
4. Time to benefit: Most material is of immediate benefit.
5. The need to buy additional tapes to understand this one: Probably

Written Summary:

For our first review in nearly 3.5 yrs, I wanted to start off big, so I decided to check out one of the Gracie's, and do so with the biggest tape company Century/Panther. First, I'd like to thank Century/Panther for providing us this entire series.

We are going to review the first tape in this eight tape series. Why did I pick this series? For years I've known about this series, wondered about it, and had many questions. What questions specifically did I have? Well first, one has to look at the series itself, and contemplate it's intent/purpose? The series is based on eight tapes, two tapes per rank/belt (blue, purple, brown, black). The main word in the series is titled "techniques". This would lead one to believe that these are either all the techniques, or at a minimum the main techniques, for each rank/belt. Based on that, one can't help but wonder/conclude "If I buy this series, maybe I'll know all the techniques, or at least the main ones, to be the equivalent of a Gracie Black Belt".

There are several perspectives from which to grade a series such as this, and one can't help but think about that, while watching and grading. What are those perspectives? Thoughts running through me head were: "Is this everything required per belt, or just some of it, and how would a person really know?" Seems to me the only way a person would know, is if they were either a Carlson Gracie Blue Belt, or Carlson Gracie Black Belt. Myself not being either, yet having exposure to other Gracie tapes, and other Jujitsu tapes, along with one-on-one Jujitsu training, I'm going to step out on a limb and say that based on this first tape, I suspect it won't cover everything, and probably just the high points. So let's go through the first tape.

The first instructional scene on the tape starts out with Carlson on his back, with another black belt sitting on his stomach. This scene is meant to discuss the Guard position. How a person gets to the Guard, meaning the takedown, was a big question mark in my mind, especially if I pretend I'm watching this scene with no prior knowledge. I must say that bugged me a bit. Why was that such a big deal to me? Allow me to digress for a minute. Let's say I'm a beginner, with no prior knowledge of jujitsu, I heard of the Gracie's, and this is the first set of jujitsu tapes I ever purchased. I think that is a believable scenario. Why believable? Well let's say I'm a huge Panther/Century fan, I've heard of the Gracie's, and I want to start out my jujitsu knowledge/collection with the best (Gracie's), thinking this might teach me all the Gracie Jujitsu belt requirements/techniques. Again pretending to have no knowledge, yet having some, I suspect that all Gracie techniques can't be taught in 8 tapes. Some Panther "belt requirement" series are as large as 40 tapes! I saw on this first tape about 11 techniques, and this is the first blue belt tape, for a total of 2 blue belt tapes. If the numbers hold true on the next tape, is it fair to assume it might only take a total of 22 techniques, to earn a Gracie blue belt? I suspect not. There are probably 1000's of techniques/sub-techniques one must learn to become a Gracie black belt, and at least a hundred per belt, especially if there are 4 colors to black! Having said all that, let's get back to reviewing the tape.

This tape takes the viewer through: the guard, side control, mount, mount transitioning to a sitting back position, mount transitioning to about 3 cross choke variations, a couple of arm bar variations from the mount, choke from the back position, and passing the guard. I counted about 11 techniques. My opinion, a little weak on the number of techniques covered in 44 minutes.

Let's quickly go through some things that bothered me about this tape, in addition to what's been already mentioned: Why isn't Carlson ("Junior") teaching/talking? Is it due to an inability to speak the English language, or a slight lack thereof? Ideally, I'd rather be hearing things from-the-horses-mouth (the man), versus one of his students. Even though "the man" is there, I can't help but wonder if I'm getting a watered-down-version of things.

Continuing on with some things that bothered me, next, let's delve into what I'll call the "missing gaps" in this tape. Of the 11 techniques, all were explained fairly well. There were some minor detailed explanations missing here-and-there. All-in-all the tape left me feeling I was missing something, it's hard to pinpoint what exactly, but I just felt like it was haphazardly thrown together. Best way for me to describe it, I just felt like at times the tape lacked a proper flow. I didn't particularly care for the way the tape began and ended, regarding opening comments or closing comments, which were IMHO non-existent. And at times, there wasn't sufficient explanation given, regarding transitioning from one technique to the next.

Here's what I ideally would have like to seen, or been told, so I wasn't left wondering so many things, and having tons of questions: Is the number of techniques shown in this series exactly what it takes (technique wise) to get a Gracie blue belt. If the first scene on the tape (the mount), is this the very first thing a student is taught, or are there other things taught prior to this. And, what is the estimated time a person should spend on each technique shown, before moving on to the next technique.

Some of the things I did like: Unlike some jujitsu tapes I've seen, it didn't seem like a lot of time was wasted with too much repetition of the same technique. The tape was roughly 44 minutes long, 11 techniques, so on the average about 4 minutes per technique. During each technique, time was spent covering detailed explanation of each move. There were (IMHO) some details left out, but for the most part, a pretty thorough job of explaining things was done. I've seen tapes do a better job, and I've seen tapes do worse.

I had a big question I kept asking myself after watching this tape. "How many times would I watch this tape, before I either felt I knew the techniques, or was bored with it?" I couldn't picture myself watching more than a half dozen times. There are literally some jujitsu tapes I own that I could watch every day, till the end of time, and never get tired of. This wasn't one of them.

I'm initially inclined to judge this tape a little on the harsh side, because after watching it, I had more questions than answers. Some jujitsu tapes I own answer all questions I have. However, I'm going to reserve judgement until I've watched the other tapes in this series. Maybe some of my questions will be answered on tape 2, maybe not. I won't know until I watch it. Based on what I saw, I'll say this, I'll be watching it with a little more pessimism than I did this one, expecting answers to questions from tape 1. And maybe the answers aren't on tape 2, maybe they are further down the line, on one of the other tapes in this series. I'll try to keep this in mind. So what are your thoughts? Should a tape stand on it's own, and answer all questions, or make you want to see the answers on one of the additional tapes in the series.

I will say this, Carlson Jr. had another series, called "Self Defense", which Century/Panther says is no longer available. Could answers to questions I have be on that series? And if they are, and this series is the only one a person can currently get from Century/Panther, how much value is there in only buying this series, if it leaves tons of questions unanswered?

Stay tuned, I'll let you know what I find out, which I suspect won't be fully uncovered until I get to tape 8.

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