The other day I asked one of my instructors at the Ralph Gracie Academy (none other than our very own Batata) what “omo plata” means in Portuguese. He thought for a moment, seemingly at a loss, and then said with a grin “It means, likeâ€¦shoulderOmo Plata and the Dynamic Guard Volumes I-II Stephan KestingReview by “Judo” Tom(Editors Note: Meet another of the Onthemat Crew “Judo” Tom Schinamin)) Tom has been a friend and training partner of the OTM crew for years -we were going to say longest active blue belt ever, but he was awarded his purple belt last week, also a black belt in judo and a practicing lawyer. We look forward to many more contributions from Tom in the future)
The other day I asked one of my instructors at the Ralph Gracie Academy (none other than our very own Batata) what “omo plata” means in Portuguese. He thought for a moment, seemingly at a loss, and then said with a grin “It means, likeâ€¦shoulder.” My translation would be more along the lines of “oh my shoulder,” but the abbreviated version seems appropriate enough. If you`ve ever been on the receiving end of an effective omo plata, you know that it is as brutal as it looks, and it easily has my vote as one of the coolest weapons in the BJJ arsenal. Stephan Kesting`s two-volume “Omo Plata and the Dynamic Guard” is, to my knowledge, the first video series devoted exclusively to this technique. Stephan, a Canadian purple belt under Marcus Soares and also an instructor in Combat Submission Wrestling under Erik Paulson, takes a highly analytical approach to his subject. The result is an excellent guide to using omo plata as a launching pad for improving your BJJ game.
You may only think of omo plata as a submission. If so, think again. As Stephan shows in these videos, omo plata can also be used effectively as a sweep or as a set up for a variety of other techniques. In Volume I, which covers setups and entries, he first briefly explains the mechanics of omo plata. Stephan describes what he calls the “trigger position” for omo plata – i.e., the position you need your opponent to be in for you to be able to execute omo plata properly. In the trigger position, you have your opponent in your guard and he has his head down on your stomach with an arm wrapped around the outside of your thigh. Most BJJ practitioners learn very quickly that when in someone`s guard you must maintain a strong base at all times and try to keep your elbows in to avoid being attacked with arm bars, chokes, and, yes, omo plata. Thus, you don`t see people willingly assume the trigger position all that often.
Stephan uses much of Volume I showing you how to set the trigger position up and get omo plata whether your opponent likes it or not (presumably he doesn`t). He demonstrates and explains more than 30 different set-ups or entries. Some of them you will have seen before if you`ve been around BJJ for a while, but a lot of them will likely come as a revelation. Each set up is numbered and given an easy-to-remember name like “Omo Plata Follow-up to Arm Bar” or “Scissor-Sweep to Omo Plata” (a very cool move) which appears on the screen before the technique is demonstrated. Stephan first goes through each move slowly, explaining the mechanics and logic behind it. His explanations are detailed enough for intermediate and advanced practitioners but also straightforward enough for beginning-level students. After explaining a move, Stephan then demonstrates it at full speed. One of the many good things about these tapes is the fact that Stephan doesn`t needlessly repeat the same move two, three or four times, which allows him to cram more techniques into the package than would otherwise have been possible.
Volume II covers finishes, follow-ups and counters. This tape contains more omo plata finishing variations than you probably thought possible. If you`ve had any experience at all with omo plata, you know that a common defense to the technique is the roll-out escape. Stephan goes over several effective ways of controlling and then finishing your opponent when he has attempted this escape. Among them are several variations of the arm bar, a wrist lock and (my favorite) a kimura-type shoulder lock where you are sitting on your opponent`s chest. Also included in the tape are counters to the cartwheel, stand-up and other escapes. As in Volume I, all of the techniques are given names that appear on the screen, and Stephan explains each of them in painstaking detail. The final few minutes of Volume II are devoted to several drills and exercises designed to help you execute omo plata more effectively. Beginners and more advanced practitioners alike should find them helpful.
I have just one very minor gripe about these tapes (so minor, in fact, that I hesitate to mention it). The video was shot on a blue mat against a plain white dropcloth, which makes the techniques very easy to see but creates a weird lighting problem. When Stephan is explaining something while standing, his shadow stands right next to him, mimicking his every gesture. Maybe I`m nuts, but I found this distracting. I kept looking back and forth between Stephan and his shadow-twin, perhaps unconsciously expecting the twin to suddenly walk off the set or thumb his nose at his better half.
But hey, this is jiu-jitsu, not Martha Stewart`s Living, right? If beautiful cinematography is what you`re after, I assume you`ll go out and buy a copy of Moulin Rouge. Stephan has obviously put a hell of a lot of time, thought and energy into these tapes, and it shows. Together they comprise an excellent omo plata toolbox. I can`t wait for him to put another jiu-jitsu technique under his microscope.