The Match That Changed BJJ (you knew it was coming)
Yup, it's Eddie Bravo versus Royler Gracie at the ADCC semi-finals. The sub happens at 8:11 if you don't want to watch the entire video.
Of course, if you skip to the end, you miss perhaps the most important moments that get overlooked in this match: jailbreak. The fact that Eddie was successfully getting his far-side foot to the inner thigh of Royler meant that Royler couldn't secure cross-sides.
But that's for another time. Should we get the simple blasts out of the way (one's that Eddie himself likes to blast)?
- It was a semi-final match, Leo Viera wrecked him in the finals.
- Eddie has never won a major championship.
- Eddie effectively retired after this match.
These are all points, just not good points. This is assuming that the conversation in question is, "Who is the best grappler in the world?" Actually, I am yet to hear that question when people are blasting Eddie. Usually, it is just someone who wants to pull out there little BJJ nuggets to sound like the know the sport.
The fact is that Eddie Bravo revolutionized the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (actually he did it two ways, his Twister is illegal in most competitions as a spinal cord attack). He took something that had already existed in one form or another and made it his own.
As a disclaimer: I don't use the rubber guard, even with full knee replacements I probably never would. I don't agree with his politics and I didn't attend his seminar when it was in town, however, that doesn't mean that the guy wasn't important to the sport.
Bravo looked at MMA, saw the way that it was changing and becoming a hybrid sport and tweeked it. The basic rubber guard is used to keep your opponent from posturing up and being able to strike you.
Not only that, but he made an entire language that, frankly, no outsider would ever understand. Beyond Lock Down, Jail Break or Mission Control are Crack Head, Electric Chair and any number of other terms that seem to have only been possible through a mind that has endured copious amounts of marijuana (calm down, if you didn't know, Eddie Bravo is a staunch supporter of legalized weed).
From there we get 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu, it's not exactly his own invention, but it sure as hell isn't BJJ. Personally, I have no interest in the rubber guard as, even if I were to remove all of my tendons, my body still couldn't contort into even the most basic of positions.
Then there is marketing. Bravo did a better job of marketing and getting his name out there than Gene Simmons and Dane Cook combined, and in doing so has found himself, in some circles, to be as disliked as both men.
And how did he do this? He beat Royler Gracie. He proved that his rubber guard and half-guard techniques could work against elite level grapplers (though his real intent was to put Royler in a Twister and get himself disqualified. A fact he admits in his books).
Sure, times have changed. The nuance of the rubber guard has faded, but Bravo has created his own legacy, with a little help of Joe Rogan and his near orgasmic exclamations any time a UFC fighter pulls rubber guard
out of their pocket.
What Bravo being Royler showed was that the Gracie's weren't invincible. He showed that there is still invention in BJJ. And he showed that with a little effort, a lot of marketing, and a fan-based devoted to the Rubber Guard and Phish concerts, history can still be made in this sport of ours.