Monday, March 26, 2012


When I first heard of Brian Johnson I had no idea who he was, other than the fact that he produced a new BJJ instructional series. As usual I was skeptical, we live in an age where video production is available to virtually anyone with a flip cam, digital camera, or buddy with a hookup. Often times both quality of instruction and video clarity can leave a BJJ practitioner regretting an expensive DVD purchase. Well, naturally we are here for your grappling and financial benefit.

So lets start from the beginning, I tore open the package to find three DVD's with very nice branding and graphic design. As simple as that sounds, all to often design is over looked and done poorly, especially if it's self produced/published. Each volume had clearly stated chapters of the Basic 12 that would be covered on the DVD case. I read a quick summary of the series and found out Brian is an accomplished Machado Black Belt from Washington State. I popped open up each case to find a well made, high quality dvd that I immediately threw into the DVD player. I watched all three DVD's several times and I am impressed with both the A/V quality and the quality of instruction. Even though I had never heard of Brian before, he displayed solid techniques and instruction throughout the DVD series. The DVD starts off with a basic overview that is voiced over by Brian himself and then an interview with his master Rigan Machado. The DVD has simple transitions, music that is not distracting (Cobrinha DVD), and written steps to accompany each technique. The quality of instruction was excellent and Brian made sure to repeat the techniques from all angles. I really liked the addition of the "class participation" which had some of Brian's students try the technique after he detailed them. I feel it added to the class atmosphere that is often times missing in DVD's and it was a nice touch to actively see the techniques applied by students after his instructional. I was surprised to see on screen steps throughout the series as well. The on screen steps and guides were something brand new to me and it made me wonder why I had never seen it before. Listen, we all learn differently, some visually, some by repetition, others auditory. Why would you not want to combine an on screen step by step guide?

If I had to complain it would be about the font choice on the DVD itself. The addition of text and steps for each technique is a much needed addition to instructional dvds, unfortunately the style of font left much to be desired. Maybe it's just my designers intuition but a simple font change would make a big difference. I also wish the on screen steps would consistently be placed in the same area - on occasion it scrolls at the very bottom other times at the top or far left. Throughout all three discs I felt every technique was explained correctly and thoroughly with the exception of one sole technique which I felt not only lacked full detail but full completion as well. This seemed uncharacteristic compared to the other very detailed techniques shown in the DVD's.

Besides those very minor issues everything else was great. As stated before the instruction and techniques in this series is top notch and it is a great addition to the marketplace where there is a lack of foundational DVD's. Most DVD's consist of learning someone's system or learning a particular grapplers style (almost always offensive.) As far as I have seen the only DVD comparable to this is the Roy Dean White to Blue curriculum. Roy's DVD has been out for years and as far as I know it was the first of it's kind. I think the Basic 12 DVD is just as good and in someways better than the Dean DVD. Which in my opinion says a lot.

So since I'm a dick and don't think it's possible to give a perfect 10 I give this a 9.5 with a .5 deduction for the two issues stated above.

So big props to Brain Johnson and his North West BJJ academy. Check out his site, learn some more about him and pick up his DVDs. I can assure you if you use this DVD and train hard you will undoubtedly improve quicker than just taking class alone.

Instruction: Blackbelt (clear, concise, effective, something you could easily revisit as a higher belt)
AV Quality: Brown Belt (Not Avatar quality but it was clear, easy to see and hear)
Design: Blackbelt (visually pleasing branding, no skulls, animals or blood)
Price: $100 Pretty good deal for a three DVD set
Bonus: First time for on screen text instruction!

Overall: Newly Acquired Black Belt!


  1. Brian is a world class grappler. The DVDs are the tip of the iceberg when Brian teachers. A great teacher and human being. Brian is often on the road teaching when not competing and will be on the east coast at the end of the month.

  2. Brian is handsdown the best teacher I've ever had.


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