Hacking The Jiu Jitsu Journey with Paulo Guillobel’s Mastering the 21 Immutable Principles of BJJ

The internet and social media is an avalanche of BJJ knowledge to sift through.  From the highest ranks to the newest white belt, everyone with a smart phone or blog is sharing a favorite move or opinion and it’s a wonderful thing.  The organic spread of ideas is what keeps the art and sport alive.  But how do I decide what and who I should look to for guidance?

Saulo Ribeiro, a young student, and Paulo Guillobel at a tournament--photo courtesy of Paulo Guillobel
Saulo Ribeiro, a young student, and Paulo Guillobel at a tournament–photo courtesy of Paulo Guillobel

Professor Paulo Guillobel’s book Mastering The 21 Immutable Principles of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a fantastic place to start.  Paulo recently received his 5th degree on his black belt from Saulo Ribeiro, coincidentally  the author of the BJJ classic The University of Jiu Jitsu, a book that is never far from my reach.

Guillobel has trained for nearly 30 years and has been teaching for well over 20.  The list of his instructors and mentors includes Jorge Pereira, Rigan and Jean Jacques Machado, and most recently Saulo and Xande Ribeiro.  He owns a successful academy in San Clemente, CA.

This book does a number of things right.  Let’s take a look.

The book is Professor Guillobel’s entrance into the philosophical arena of BJJ, something that purely technique based, instructionals may not address.  For me it’s reminiscent of The University of Jiu Jitsu, which is a seminal book for many BJJ players.  It’s chapters are filled with years worth of insights that the reader may not be fully ready to assimilate into their approach or game, but with time, the book will grow and enrich one’s journey.

The book is short.  Let’s face it, in today’s fast-paced, media filled world, curling up in front of the fireplace with a mug of hot chocolate and a good book is not realistic.  It’s chapters are extremely brief.  One can jump in and digest the entire book in a few short sittings.  Chapters can and should be read and reread anytime and anywhere.  When you get home from a late evening class and have barely enough energy to drive your car, these short chapters are great to read as you’re winding down for the night.

The author presents the Principles in many cases using analogies that will help you envision and absorb what he is explaining and also help you remember the key points while you’re training or rolling, when they can be quite beneficial.

Professor Guillobel has created a companion website to help illustrate elements of the principles and give you that video fix you know you need.

There were a number of chapters that resonated with me as I read them more than others.  Chapter 9’s discussion of the concept of “overreaching” was an eye-opening reminder of why it is important to always be mindful of the extension of our limbs.  In Chapter 12, the author explores various aspects of human anatomy and how we can exploit inherent weaknesses and capitalize on natural strengths.  Chapters about best practices for energy conservation and how to maximize your use of pressure are great primers to help fast track your BJJ skills.  I can foresee myself getting more out of different principles and chapters as my game and skill develop over time.

Professor Guillobel on top of the podium at the Masters Worlds.--photo courtesy of Paulo Guillobel
Professor Guillobel on top of the podium at the International Masters Worlds.–photo courtesy of Paulo Guillobel

I put Paulo Guillobel’s Mastering The 21 Immutable Principles of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the same category as books like Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Body or Four Hour Workweek in that they are all attempts to hack into life experience and increase the reader’s productivity.  Ferriss writes of a concept called “minimal effective dose” which represents the smallest change or adjustment one can make that will give solid results.    Anything beyond that “dose”, whether it be exercise, sleep, or some sort of diet change is a waste of time because in his opinion, there are diminishing returns.  Guillobel shares these ‘immutable’ principles that he has garnered from 30 years of study and trial and error in an attempt to save his students and readers some of the time and error he may have experienced over the course of his journey.

I hope that more instructors write books encapsulating their philosophies and BJJ hacks, as books like this serve as a great compliment to live instruction and the plethora of DVD and streaming resources out there.  Besides it’s kind of refreshing to pick up an old fashioned book every now and again, instead of getting the bulk our BJJ knowledge from 15 second Instagram videos.  Mastering the 21 Immutable Principles of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a book designed for all belt levels and will certainly grow with you as you progress down the road towards black belt.




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