If you are familiar with Priit Mihkelson’s defensive series of videos then this set from Raoul Audhoe (himself a brown belt under Priit) will come as welcome addition. Raoul covers most of the main Priit postures but adds his own spin on a few of them. Crucially, he gives an insight into how he is able to convert these defensive positions into surprisingly effective attacks.
You can buy Raoul’s set from Grapplinginstructionals.com here (intro price $48.30, normally $69). No one paid me or asked me to write this review. My policy is that I’ll only review stuff I’m personally interested in.
Followers of my jiujitsu reviews and Youtube videos will know what a fan I am of Priit Mihkelson’s defensive system (as well as the related tutorials by Wim Deputter and Chris Paines). See my epic mega review of all the Priit Mihkelson instructional here.
I’ve personally been trying to progress from using the system as a purely defensive set into something with more counterattacks. So when I saw Raoul’s highlight video of him applying attack after attack at a recent Grappling Industries event, I was in awe! Here was a grappler using the Priit system to attack on a whole other level. He was able to set traps and launch attacks from any one of the established Priit postures. See the video below:
This instructional is for online viewing only, there’s no download option which is a bit annoying as I like to watch them when commuting and a mobile connection isn’t always available. There are 20 chapters in total (2 hours 4mins of content) including the welcome intro and the thank you end piece. The video quality is adequate. Ideally, Raoul needs a lapel mic as in some postures (eg when he fully turtles) his audio is muffled and inaudible but most of the time it’s ok. I appreciate that he takes the time to explain certain situations prior to demonstrating them, knowing that his speaking voice would be affected by the technique (eg when being face-cranked).
The addition of subtitles is very handy. Visually, everything is clear albeit the lighting is dark compared to BJJ Fanatics and JiuJitsuX. Raoul teaches with plenty of fun and good humour which is entertaining to watch. The whole set can be broadly split into three segments: the position intros, the set ups and finally the submission attacks.
The opening chapters briefly cover the basics of the various Turtle positions, which replicates the positions taught by Priit Mihkelson. These include the basic turtle, upright turtle, Running Man (Raoul calls it Staggered Turtle), Panda, Active turtle, and even the Grilled Chicken (he calls it the Flipped turtle). But Raoul also injects a couple of his own original twists on Priit’s themes with the Buddha Turtle (a variation of the Panda which uses a lotus crossed leg position) and the Seated Turtle (which looks similar to a seated half butterfly guard). The latter two are particularly good when seeking counter attacks.
I like Raoul’s renaming all these positions as the ‘something-turtle’. It reminds the user to maintain the fundamentals of the turtle posture – most notably the very tight elbow position and the ‘boxer’s shoulder’ structure. Although Raoul is looking for attacks, he reminds us never to lose the defensive structure that makes these turtle based concepts work so effectively.
Raoul teaches all the techniques nogi. He doesn’t mention it, but nearly all of the techniques shown here apply whether using IBJJF gi rules or sub-only nogi rules – with the exception of the leg attacks which are more relevant to rule sets that allow knee reaping. It’s worth repeating (something I’ve commented on in my original Priit review) that deliberately going to turtle position to avoid having your guard passed will likely score your opponent an advantage under IBJJF rulesets. If you accept this fate then as long as you are confident of winning the match then it’s a moot point I suppose. Comps that are sub-only rules or do not penalise starting from guard are the perfect platform to play with all of these defensive postures – in fact if you watch Raoul in some of his matches he starts a fight by literally pulling turtle!
Moving onto the mid-section of this tutorial, Raoul covers the very important aspects of grip fighting and defending the positions. I found the distinction between defensive pummeling and offensive pummelling to be very enlightening. A simple change of emphasis like this can completely alter the way you play turtle. I also like the little wrist twists he uses to open up the opponent’s elbows without sacrificing your own elbow position.
The meat of this instructional begins from chapter 13. And here Raoul sets an important three-step rule: to succeed with an attack (sweep or submission) you must first create the opening between their armpit and hip line and insert a part of your body there, then make sure you unbalance your opponent before proceeding to execute the final part of the attack. This is analogous to the Defend Everything concepts shown in Chris Paines’s video.
Raoul also talks about a secondary gap that could be exploited located in the space behind the opponent’s knee. This area would be most beneficial for leg lock attacks but it is very much dependent on the opponent’s stance.
In Raoul’s comp footage video one can see that he attacks mostly with leg submissions. But the set-ups he shows in this video also include upper body attacks – armbars, kimuras and wristlocks.
In the leg locks chapter, Raoul’s main setups give the user the choice to go for either 50/50 or saddle type leg entanglement positions and finish with a heel hook. He also shows backside 50/50, kneebar and even cross body straight ankle lock (using the RNC grip pattern) options. This chapter alone is like a very good introductory primer on leg locks.
The final chapters on Comp Tactics and Troubleshooting are very useful as Raoul talks about his favourite match opening tactics depending on the different rule sets.
Raoul’s set ups and finishes look so fun I couldn’t wait to try them. To my advantage, I’m fairly familiar with the basic postures so adopting Raoul’s variations wasn’t too hard to do. My big problem however is that I never drill new stuff, I just watch stuff, try to remember as much as I can and jump in with them in sparring. It’s a process that means I will suck at new techniques for a long while.
You can see my very first attempts at Raoul’s tactics in this video here:
Working from turtle, Running Man, Seated Turtle and Buddha Turtle I was trying my best to hunt for that elusive opening between my partner’s armpit and hip line. It wasn’t easy. I could get the grips I needed but inserting a wedge into the open space was harder. I did get it a couple of times but I definitely need way more practice doing so. That being said, the core positions were so solid (I’m really liking the Buddha turtle) and I wasn’t in any danger of losing my defence. I also tried to hunt for the wristlocks and kimuras that Raoul uses, to limited success.
My rolling footage above demonstrates that I need more time to explore and practice the techniques. But there’s definitely some glimpses of good stuff in there so I’ll carry on working on this and maybe update the review at a later stage. I’ll also make sure I continue working on the defensive side too.
Raoul’s set here is the perfect addition to any of Priit’s Defensive BJJ videos. His technical breakdowns are very well explained plus his entertaining personality comes across very well. It feels as if this video was made precisely for me – I’ve recently been seeking ways where I can use the Defensive BJJ positions in a more proactive context and voila! Raoul delivers.
Although Raoul covers all the basic Turtle postures in this set, I would still strongly suggest that the newcomer drill and train Priit’s entire positional system (he has five main ones, see here). I feel that if the user is confident with it as a defensive concept, then advancing towards using as an attacking platform will come easier.
Normally I’d always like to see instructional videos include rolling footage (like how Lachlan Giles does) but in this case, Raoul’s stand out Grappling Industries Tournament video is a fantastic showcase to everything taught in this instructional.
Although I love this set, it’s not for everyone. There will always be folk who simply don’t like to play this style of defensive, counterattacking game. But for those who love Priit’s work, then I would say this is a must-buy.