Video Review: Scott Sonnon's "The Saddle" SAMBO for MMA-
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Sonnon’s “The MMA Saddle”
So, for those who know me, you realize that most of my reviews are pretty fair. Well, truthfully, no one would know this because I have yet to write a positive review for anybody. A few weeks ago Scott Sonnon of RMAX “Grappler’s Toolbox” fame contacted me via e-mail. He asked me if it would be okay to send me some DVD’s he had just created called “The MMA Saddle.” I have no idea why he chose me except that we have very similar backgrounds. So I told him I would take the time, and in a few days I received his DVDs in the mail.
There they sat for a few days while I contemplated a plan of attack. The last time I did a review of some tapes it was on “Systema.” I gathered together several instructors from different styles to observe the techniques and also gathered some students to review the techniques with us. The outcome was not positive. I didn’t think I needed the aid of any other instructors with this one. I did bring in some BJJ guys to review a lot of the techniques and then it happened; everybody became bored. I’ve seen it happen dozens of times. Most competitive grapplers I know will not stand still and learn something unless there’s a solid name to it. If they haven’t seen it in a competition where a competitor is tapping everybody with it they tend to get bored really quickly and this is what happened here.
I stuck it out. Everyday I would go onto the floor and work these mechanics as Sonnon had set forward. It took me weeks to roughly go through all the techniques that he put on those DVDs; each DVD going over 1 maneuver that was sorely lacking in the SAMBO leg lock game, the “slow game” as he likes to put it. Now truthfully speaking when he had mentioned this in his first disk I started snickering. SAMBO had evolved well beyond what I called the snatch and grab game years ago. The introduction to modern grappling forced SAMBO to evolve and develop a position game forcing everybody to slow down and work for position. So what would be new? Somewhere in the 2nd DVD, things started to evolve and elaborate themselves. A flow game started to evolve and he started answering questions that had come up as we were dissecting the faults in his theory from the 1st disk. This reminded me of the techniques and game plans developed from positions such as the x-guard, rubber guard, and the turtle.
The interesting thing that Sonnon kept mentioning throughout the videos is the need to evolve and the hopes that the introduction of his techniques would force SAMBO and grappling to evolve to the next level. This was the only part of the game I could find fault in. I personally have not been able to field test it. While I was able to catch my senior students and fighters by surprise, there is no way to find out how effective these techniques are truly going to be until we see them in competition. Of course, the way the rules are set in most grappling tournaments it maybe hard to do and we’ll have to wait to see somebody, aside from Genki Sudo, try these techniques.
So what do I think of “The Saddle” SAMBO for MMA? If you are actually an experienced grappler or fighter looking to add something to your already existing game, I would recommend you getting these DVDs. I’ve tried this under striking conditions and was quite successful. We found minor difficulties when matching different body types (if you can imagine a 6’5” 250lb guy vs. a 5’7” 145lb guy). This is not something I would recommend for beginners. I do believe it could become a staple technique but it would be best not to add it to your basic game yet. So despite the occasional tangent and self promoting plugs for other DVDs he’s created (good marketing), Sonnon has hit a home run as far as I can tell, but only time will really be able to tell if his approach is solid.