Seminar in Port Elizabeth, South Africa

BJJ Seminar in PE, South Africa, 31st of March, 2007

Written by Dave Levey [ ]

Roberto “Risada” Atalla visited the Dave Levey BJJ academy (representative of Prof. Marcus Soares) on 31 March 2007 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Roberto has been brought out here by a friend and training partner Andrew Garai, for a month long stay to train, teach seminars and catch up on some good surfing.

It is not often in South Africa that we have black belt Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructors for seminars so I immediately took up the opportunity for Roberto to conduct a seminar at our academy. “Risada” soon lived up to his names sake, enthusiastically starting off the seminar with some laughter and a typical Jiu-Jitsu warm-up, consisting of light cardiovascular exercises and numerous basic functional drills such as various breakfalls and the ever so important hip escape drill.

The theme for this seminar was “escaping the back”. Firstly Roberto started off with some theory on defending emphasizing the importance of always defending and preventing the submission while one escapes bad positions. He also emphasized maintaining a relaxed and calm composure while defending both positions and submissions. Risada likened this to that of swimming in water: “…if you are drowning and get desperate, you drown even faster, but if you remain calm you float, you swim…”.

Like all good teachers, Roberto started off by putting his theory into practice with teaching and then getting us to drill the defense of the neck while an opponent swims low for ones chin for the choke or higher to lift ones chin for the choke, always maintaining a calm composure during the defense.

Roberto then taught the primary principle for escaping the rear mount to be focused on. The principle was to get both shoulders to the floor by bridging away and off of the opponent so that he/she no longer had direct access to ones back. Once the defender had achieved this position the basic shrimping motion could be used to escape from the opponent and reguard or end in a more dominant position. This escape was taught from when the opponent was on top from the rear mount with the defender turtled and when the opponent was on the bottom when rear mounting, both for a) before the opponent had applied the choke and b) while the opponent was already applying the choke. Atalla also showed variations of this basic move for when an opponent crossed his legs to prevent the shrimp, for the body triangle and for when the attacker redirected one’s body to the side opposite to that the defender was trying to get the shoulders to the ground.

The technique was further engrained into our movement pattern with specific drilling of these movements learned with an opponent starting in the rear mount and defending while trying to escape. The opponent tried to maintain position and submit the defender before the minute was up. Attackers and defenders then rotated and so the drill continued for 4 rounds totaling 12 minutes of specific rolling.

The seminar was ended off with Roberto sparring with each of the students attending the seminar. All watched enthusiastically as Roberto demonstrated smooth, well coordinated technique with a relaxed composure which we all aspire to achieving one day.

Dave Levey teaches out at the University of Port Elizabeth (representative of Marcus Soares), and can be contacted at


University of Port Elizabeth, South Africa


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