How Much BJJ Can You Learn From Books And Videos? A Lot! Here’s Proof

You can’t get to a brown belt in jiu-jitsu by watching YouTube videos!

Or can you?

The Jiu-Jitsu Times talked with the BJJ brown belt Kent Peters, who owns ZombieProof Martial Arts in Canada. You’ve most likely seen one of the ZombieProofBJJ YouTube videos on the Jiu-jitsu Times where Kent shares some advanced jiu-jitsu techniques.

Jiu-Jitsu Times: First of all Kent, can you tell us about your background and history training BJJ? About your BJJ school.

Kent Peters: I started looking for BJJ after I watched my first UFC, like tons of people, but we didn’t have any jiu-jitsu clubs for 5 hours in any direction, so I started with books and magazines. I would buy Grappling Magazine and drill the techniques, I ordered in the Machado and Gracie books and went through page by page with a few friends in my fathers garage on mats made of cardboard and duct tape.

So when I was just beginning, YouTube wasn’t what it was now. Now it’s amazing what’s out there and for free. I joined a local judo club and made it to green belt before I left for Alberta to work. I started training at GB Fort McMurray under Mike King and received my blue belt after a few months. I then moved home and started a club as a blue belt which meant I needed to keep learning myself. I affiliated with Scott MacLean (FitPlus/NU) and got my purple and brown with him and his affiliation NU (purple under Robson Moura and currently brown under Wendell Alexander) and I’m now a black belt in judo also. My club has multiple ranked blues and purples all verified by our affiliation, amateur and pro MMA champions of regional events, even a few IBJJF and NAGA gold medals which involves lots of travel because we are on an island on the east coast of Canada.

JJT: You say that you have learned much of your jiu-jitsu from YouTube and DVD instructionals. How did you do it?

KP: Trial and error. I’m a visual learner and I’m big on details. so it didn’t seem as impossible as I was led to believe. There are plenty of tips and tricks so anyone can learn and supplement this way. If I had the option of an instructor I would have took the easy way, but that’s not an option for all of us.

When watching videos and techniques, I utilize pause and rewind often. Where was the foot? Where was the hand? But at the beginning, understanding how and why you are in the position you are watching is key. If I’m never in spider guard, I won’t watch videos from there. I try to stay in a progression with techniques. I always try to learn what would come first in a position and truly understand it before moving to cool or flashy techniques. For example, when you watch an instructional, they start with A then B then C. When I watch a new instructional, I’ll only watch A, then go rep and try it, then I watch B.

I love visits from other clubs, thanks for the rolls guys 🔥

Posted by Kent Peters on Saturday, February 25, 2017

JJT: Which instructors and instructional series have most influenced your jiu-jitsu?

KP: This is a hard one to answer, as I have had so many instructors since I started. The Jean Jacques Machado books still have a huge influence on my game and my style. My first DVD was Eduardo Telles Turtle Guard, so I still turtle up way too often. MG’s six DVD set still has me addicted to arm drags, and I’ve been rocking the truck hook since Jiu-Jitsu Unleashed.

Online you have Stephan Kesting and Ken Primola, who always pumped out techniques and theories I could add into my game. Now I watch lots of matches and am more drawn to leg lockers like Eddie Cummings or Garry Tonon, who never has boring rolls. I’m probably leaving tons of people out, and for that, I apologize. One of my goals is to someday have someone who is coming up now thank me for helping their game improve on their BJJ journey towards black belt.

JJT: How does a student who does not have access to a high level instructor best use online instructional resources to learn? What advice do you have for students who are self teaching?

KP: Start with position A then drill and flow roll with a training partner with the same goals. After you get a feel for it and where it leads you, watch a few more videos and repeat. You can watch all the videos in the world, but without training partners you won’t get better. Be honest about your experience and goals, and you can find others in your area interested in the same thing. I never pretended to be a master. Everyone knew my jiu-jitsu was my do-it-yourself project. I’m currently in the process of putting together a site [linked below] and a blog that will be focused on helping people without an instructor like myself learn and grow their BJJ.

JJT: What are the mistakes that new students make in learning BJJ from video?

KP: I knew how to do a flying armbar before I knew how to escape mount. That’s the mistake I see most often.

Everyone is drawn to flashy instead of substance, and this is a hard temptation to resist. If I could go back and tell myself one thing, it would be “don’t waste time learning techniques from positions you never get to.” I was drilling inverted triangles but wasn’t at a place in my jiu-jitsu yet where I could invert in a roll, or I’d drill x-guard passing before any one of my training partners could even hit a butterfly guard sweep. It will come in handy someday no doubt, but if you can stick to a good progressional order, you will improve much quicker.

JJT: Why are you addicted to BJJ? What is your philosophy of jiu-jitsu?

KP: Jiu-jitsu has always made me happy. The feeling of constantly leveling up my skill set, the type of people it attracts, the family vibe you get from a quality school, these things are positive reinforcement that can get anyone hooked. Go beyond that and you have fitness and self-defense that is tons of fun to train.

My philosophy on jiu-jitsu is the same as my philosophy on life… self improvement! You should always strive to be at least 1% better than the version of yourself that woke up in the morning. Fitness, reading, constantly learning. I know I’ll never be a BJJ world champion, but I get to spread my jiu-jitsu around the world and that’s happiness for me.

Don’t forget to check out Kent Peter’s site at:  Also, make sure to check out ZombieProof Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu & Mixed Martial Arts on Facebook! 


  1. I’m a brown belt, and I would say most of my techniques since high blue came from the Internet or other similar sources. It just makes sense if, in class people are passing your guard a certain way, you go home and research a solution. That sticks better for me than random techniques that may not really be a part of my game.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here