10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu. The moment you read this, you think of No-Gi BJJ, Eddie Bravo, conspiracy theories, and weed. Well, most people that know something about Jiu-Jitsu do, anyway. There is no denying that the empire that Eddie Bravo has built really is different than what most people consider “normal” in terms of BJJ gyms. There is also no denying that his system works and that he produces both amazing competitors and some of the greatest teachers in the world. But how did it all happen, and how did the entire system evolve throughout the years? It is always interesting to look back at how some of the most successful BJJ empires got started.
While most people associate 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu with Eddie Bravo, and perhaps the Martinez brothers, I have to say that many more notable folks within the system have to get recognition. The system has produced lots of talent throughout the year,s and they all innovate much more than people in “regular” Jiu-Jitsu gyms. A lot of it has to do with how Eddie Bravo approaches running things, where, among other things, he encourages people to have fun exploring not just BJJ, but also wrestling, Sambo, and all other grappling styles.
A Romantic Underdog Story
10th PLanet Jiu-Jitsu has always been the underdog. Just like any other underdog that has pulled off massive upsets, they have embraced the role and thrived in it. Basically, when BJJ spread throughout the world, Gracie Gi-based Jiu-Jitsu was the norm, supported of course by the likes of the IBJJF and presented through Gracie Barra. Nowadays, it couldn’t be less important what gym you are from, but there was lots of noise about it back in the early days.
The Gracies, to be honest, had disagreements within the family to begin with, when it came to teaching and opening gyms up. However, they did band together in proclaiming young Eddie Bravo, a Jean Jacques Machado black belt was completely going against the idea of Jiu-Jitsu. He really did poke them, first discarding the Gi, and then starting to name things his own way. The fact that he enjoyed smoking weed and later on, introducing completely new positions (mostly based on wrestling) had the Gracies livid. Beating Royler Gracie in the ADCC via a triangle choke only made everything worse.
Eddie Bravo, though, handled things perfectly. He did his thing, presenting lots of evidence on why the stuff he was experimenting with made sense. From the rubber guard to the Twister, Bravo demonstrated that the old school ways are not the only ways of training and learning Jiu-Jitsu. In fact, he was one of the most important creative sparks that launched the evolution of BJJ, something that has never stopped and will keep going strong. That and he did open the door for No-Gi in more ways than one throughout the years.
The Birth Of 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu
The inception of 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu was never something that came about with lots of thought beforehand. A young musician trying to make it onto the music scene, Bravo stumbled across BJJ as many people did in the 90s – after watching the UFC. Already a fan of martial arts (some experience in wrestling and of course, the mandatory Karate for the time), his curiosity about Jiu-Jitsu was sparked.
Bravo was definitely lucky in choosing his BVJJ gym, as he needed up at that Machado Brothers Jiu-Jitsu Academy and started training under Jean Jacques Machado. Himself a very creative and innovative instructor, Machado fueled Bravo to experiment with Jiu-Jitsu and question the established techniques and protocols. Born with Amniotic Band Syndrome, Jean Jacques has no fingers on his left hand. Yet, he thrived in BJJ, finding a way around the traditional Gi grips and making it work for himself. In short, Bravo found the perfect teacher for his character, and that had a defining role to play in his development as a grappler.
Eddie smartly USD the recognition he got the first American to submit Royler Gracie after their ADCC match to launch his new school. He set up the earliest version of the 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu school in a kickboxing gym in West Holywood. Even the name was unusual, given Bravo’s fixation with conspiracy theory-type of claims as he dubbed his newfound gym according to the mysterious 10th planet in our solar system – Niburu. He also decided that he would not use the Gi in his gym, rather focusing on practica Jiu-Jitsu for MMA above everything else.
Evolution: Going Against The Grain
Bravo’s personal take on Jiu-Jitsu started after he realized that there was really no Jiu-Jitsu specialized for MMA. The rubber guard was designed to completely take the top[ person’s ability to strike, and offer submission options. Of course, it then morphed into a complex system that is still developing but now has countless moving parts and options.
The Twister, another of Bravo’s signature moves is actually nothing more than a wrestler’s guillotine he pulled off in his first-ever tournament. It was Rigan and Jean Jacques Machado that dubbed the move the Twister. Given that it is a spinal lock, it was not allowed in competitions such as IBJJF tournaments, further widening the chasm between 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu and the “mainstream” BJJ of the time.
Bravo and his students were never shying away from any submission that worked, going in directions that were demonized at the time, like leg locks. They were one of the earliest gyms to experiment with leg locks, albeit from their own perspective, mostly work inform the Truck position and focusing on calf slicers like the Vaporizer.
With most people saying his BJJ won’t work, or that it was too weird and required special flexibility to execute, Eddie patiently kept working on his system. It inevitably led to such an interest that he soon had lots of students and even black belts of his own that went on to spread the system through the US, and eventually, worldwide.
Becoming A World Power
Back when it all started nearly nobody believed in the 10th planet Jiu-Jitsu system. Nowadays, people are trying to make up for lost time and figure it out, although there’s no quick way to do it, really. The system is now worldwide, with hundreds of schools and highly skilled black belts that keep innovating just like Eddie did on his own back in the day.
One of the best things Eddie Bravo does in the system is letting his students have fun experimenting with Jiu-Jitsu and encourages them to do it, just like Machado did with him. Geo and Richie Martinez, Nathan Orchard, Tony Ferguson, young grace Gundrum are just some of the names that have represented the 10th planet colors at the highest levels of the game and are still going strong and have lots more to show.
Bravo also has 4 books so far: “Jiu-Jitsu Unleashed,” “Mastering the Rubber Guard,” “Mastering the Twister.” “Advanced Rubber Guard: Jiu-Jitsu for Mixed Martial Arts Competition”. On top of that, Bravo has several DVD instructionals out, as do some of his most notable black belts like Bradond McCaghren.
These days, at Eddie Bravo’s HQ in LA you can run into huge grappling names, UFC fighters, and pretty much the who is who of grappling at any given time.
Changing The Landscape Of Jiu-Jitsu
Apart from creating his own system taught at 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu schools, Bravo really did help re-shape the BJJ world. For starters, he was one of the biggest proponents of Submission-only tournaments with revised rules. After going up against Royeler at Metamoris, the first tournament of the kind (a match Bravo won according to many, but officially a draw) he launched what is arguably the best ruleset for BJJ competition – The Eddie Bravo Invitational.
Ebi really did change the world not just for Bo-Gi Jiu-Jitsu, but also for professional grapplers. Suddenly, there was a platform with realistic rules where people actually get paid. EBI paved the way for most of the pro-tournaments that are huge today, the likes of Polaris and Fight To Win.
The tournament evolved into one of the biggest events in Jiu-Jitsu and evolved quite quickly into something else – combat Jiu-Jitsu. Combat Jiu-Jitsu is still something that is not fully accepted, but I am certain it will spread quickly once it is a bit more polished. Basically, it is BJJ with slaps allowed under certain conditions, completely changing the tone of how matches take place.
Also worth mentioning are the 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu warm-ups, a system of drilling that has truly changed the way lots of people approach BJJ drills. Bravo has his students warming up by doing elaborate scenarios where both partners geet to train.
It is a fact that what Eddie Bravo has accomplished with 10th PLanet Jiu-Jitsu has influenced the development of the entire sport/art to a great extent. Nowadays, his gym is a highly respected one for everything it has accomplished and for all the innovation coming out of it. There is still a lot more to come from them, though, and it is a good idea to go and check out a 10th Planet class in the nearest school, if nothing else, just to try a different kind of Jiu-Jitsu.
10th Planet Fundamentals DVD – JM Holland & Zach Maslany
Monkey Mount Attacks – 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu With The Gi
What A Year Of Doing 10th Planet Warm-Ups Has Taught Me
Inside 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu Grappling Concepts That Work
The Rubber Guard: How To Play And Pass
15 Eddie Bravo Quotes To Make Your Day