“Day of Zen” – Part 1

On Thursday 6th July, I had the great privilege of training with BJJ legend Mario “Zen Machine” Sperry who was out in Australia for a series of seminars. I was fortunate to re connect with Ze Mario( I had trained with him previously in Brazil) for both a private class and a No Gi/MMA seminar at VT-1 Gym(Thanks Liam for hosting him).

For anyone who is not acquainted with Ze Mario, he is a  former 3 time black belt world BJJ champion(including 1 absolute/open title), as well as a former 3 time ADCC world submission wrestling champion(including 1 absolute/open title) and a highly successful MMA fighter winning fights in Pride, Cage Rage, MARS, Extreme Fighting and others! Ze Mario is also one of the greatest BJJ/MMA trainers of all time!

After the meet and greet, we got straight to business in a private class with Liam Resnekov, Jon Faulkner-Shotter and myself. Ze Mario began by teaching BTT “trade secret”, the “10 Finger Guillotine” choke which he demonstrated with lethal efficiency! Ze Mario was quick to explain that proficiency comes from more than just knowing how to execute a technique but how to set it up and anticipate your opponent’s movements!

After our Private Class with Ze Mario

Next Ze Mario taught his patented “Relogio”(Clock choke) and how he like to set it up by “allowing” his opponent to think they are escaping, all the while falling deeper into his trap! Ze Mario’s use of weight and pressure from this position is something to you have to feel to believe! Kind of like being stuck under a truck while being hung from a noose!!! Ze Mario emphasized subtlety in the use of your grips/set up and not telegraphing your intentions. He also talked about drilling it with resistance and having your opponent really trying to escape while you focus on mastering balance point, your application of weight and finishing the submission!He then taught a variation that he likes to use when people are aware of his technique and good at countering!

Throughout the private class, Ze Mario talked about strategy, tactics and the theory of fighting. He explained the use of technique to preserve your gas(energy), make your opponent tired(gased) and how in the competitive arena(mats, ring, cage) Jiu jitsu is like a race… If you can make your opponent run out of gas, make mistakes or be late in his movements you will most likely win!

Ze Mario doing what he does best!

He also covered passing the De la riva guard and how to combine your passing techniques so that “No one’s guard is unpassable”! Ze Mario explained that in addition to being well versed in various guard passing techniques, it is important to fight the person not just the guard. Anticipate his movements in advance and shut them down before they become a threat, “never giving anything to your opponent”. Dont allow him to take his preferred grips or play his game. To pass the guard and win, you must anticipate the pace and direction of the match bringing your opponent into your stronger areas and burning his energy!

Ze Mario truly is a brilliant tactician and a phenomenal teacher. As great as he was as a fighter, I really believe his real gift is teaching. He has that innate ability to break down techniques, tweak them for maximum efficiency and put them back into your game. He also breaks down the mental aspects of combat such as strategy, tactics and aggression as well as the mindset to win!

Ze Mario demonstrating the fine points of combination passing!

Ze Mario demonstrating the fine points of combination passing!

Stay tuned for part 2!

Good luck with your training and Happy rolling!

Felipe Grez

Jiu jitsu Kingdom


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2 Responses to ““Day of Zen” – Part 1”

  1. dirtywhitegi Says:

    yeah he does have a very cerebral approach to fighting and jiu jitsu… hopefully he comes back to australia again soon for more seminars!

  2. jiujitsukingdom Says:

    Ze Mario has been one of my idols since I first began training in ’98! He’s a fantastic and caring teacher and phenomenal fighter who really understands the ins and outs of fighting and teaching! I believe he may be returning in 2011! Oh and thanks for leaving a comment!
    Kind Regards

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