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Rugby Team Takes Up BJJ to Improve Their Game
Brumbies learning jiu-jitsu to be more combative
The Australian, Bret Harris, 9th November 2005
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<caption align="bottom"><font size="-2"><div class="info">Obviously <i>some</i> grappling is needed in Rugby. This guy didn't even get his hooks in before he tried to choke the opposing team member.</div></font></caption>
<tr><td><img src="http://www.bullshido.com/images/rugby-choke.jpg"></td></tr></table>NOBODY is going to push the Brumbies around next year.
The Brumbies are studying martial arts to develop a more combative and physical style of play in the inaugural Super 14 series.
Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion Marcelo Rezende is instructing the Brumbies, who missed the Super 12 play-offs this year, on how to incorporate martial arts techniques, particularly wrestling, into their rugby.
While Brazilian jiu-jitsu is a sophisticated form of self-defence, its use in rugby is not likely to result in an outbreak of red cards for the Brumbies.
"It is not aggressive in terms of hitting and kicking," ACT Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher said.
"It's more wrestling-type movements. We did a little bit of work with Marcelo last year. This year we are trying to make it more rugby specific.
"We are working with Marcelo to relate it to the way the game is played. You have to do something different to find a way forward. We have to be more combative in our forward play, but we don't need to have 130-kilo forwards to do it."
In recent years Australian forwards have been dominated by bigger and stronger packs, particularly the South African teams. But the Brazilian jiu-jitsu techniques will give them a competitive advantage in close contact situations in the forwards. <p><table class="image" align=right>
<caption align="bottom"><font size="-2"><div class="info">The deadly olho-plata technique, taught by Rooligan Gracie, black sheep of the Gracie Family.</div></font></caption>
<tr><td><img src="http://www.bullshido.com/images/rugby-gouge.jpg"></td></tr></table>"We are trying to improve our on-our-feet contact skills," Fisher said. "Traditionally, we are a side that when we get into contact we are quick to the deck for the quick release. But the contact is getting so hot you have to stay on your feet and take the harder yards. We are developing clinch-type skills and the quick movement of the shoulder and hips.
"It will help us develop our pick-and-drive game and develop our leg drive. We'll still be able to get to ground for the quick release." If the techniques are applied correctly, size should not matter so much.
"It's all about balance and centre of gravity," Fisher said. "The Brumbies and Australian sides in general aren't going to run over the top of a South African pack. It's just not going to happen, but we still need to take them on. If we can improve our agility, balance and quickness, it is a potential advantage for us."
The use of Brazilian jiu-jitsu has also had the added benefit of allowing the players to expend less energy in physical contact situations.
"If someone is grappled by an opponent while carting the ball forward, they would use their whole body to get out of the grip, which is energy consuming," Fisher said. "But a simple snap of the shoulder can loosen the grip and let you get into a better body position.
"You can expend minimal energy to get from a position of being dominated to dominating." Rezende, a three-time Pan American and New Zealand Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion, believes the martial art is applicable to rugby. He likens Brazilian jiu-jitsu to the movements of an octopus, which is the motif for his school in Manly on Sydney's northern beaches. "Brazilian jiu-jitsu is basically ground fighting with the object being to put your opponent on the ground," Rezende said.
"When you grapple you look like an octopus. You use your legs, your arms. I want to teach them to use more than just their weight and strength. I think a new phase is starting for rugby. From jiu-jitsu they can get a lot of advantage. It is good for them. The players really enjoy it. It is good for fitness. It is a new thing for them. If they can incorporate more of this, it will be a great benefit."
If Brazilian jiu-jitsu works for the Brumbies, Rezende, who will compete next year at the world championship in his home city Rio de Janeiro, would like to introduce it to the Wallabies. They have already incorporated wrestling into their training.