Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Review - Flow Jitsu - Mike Bidwell

Digital download - $49 AUS. c. 62 minutes. Available from

Jiu Jitsu Brotherhood


Mike Bidwell runs the BJJ After 40 blog and Facebook page. He had an interesting journey to black belt, which you can read about on this bio. He regularly posts interesting and innovative techniques and drills on Facebook, exhibiting a nimble, agile and flowing style, and thoughtful articles on his blog.

I obtained this video while purchasing Beyond Technique 2, which I reviewed here (and call BT2 from here on in). It was offered to me at half price, if I bought BT2, a deal which I accepted. There was a slight kerfuffle with getting the download link as part of the package purchase, but this was quickly resolved via email by Nic Gregoriades.

Nic G introduces the video with Mike Bidwell, and both discuss a piece of serendipity which resulted in their collaboration in producing Flow Jitsu.

The production, in terms of both video and sound, is of of good quality Mike B speaks clearly and demonstrates while he talks. He is easy to understand and conveys his information concisely. The "All right Ninjas!" before each section might annoy some people after a while, but not me. I like enthusiasm and don't mind a catch phrase.


The video demonstrates several series of techniques, some starting from the "Kimura Sweep" from closed guard - better known in my circles as the Hip Bump or Sitting Rollover sweep - or from the mount (which is where you often end up after a successful kimura sweep).

"Flow Jitsu" as I understand it refers to a style of Jiu Jitsu where your opponent's counters to your techniques are not met with frontal resistance, but by "flowing" around the opponent's obstacles, much like a stream flowing around rocks and other obstacles. A counter by the opponent is seen not as an obstacle to be forced through, but a new opportunity to be exploited, by changing the flow of techniques. Much is made of changing angles to exploit an opponent's force, or letting his push on your face to defend a kimura past you to hit him with a head and arm choke, where his "telephone defence" can then be turned into a wrist lock, etc.

To me, it has parallels with Kit Dale's "Becoming Formless" concept from the BT2 video, though that was more to do with changing your shape to neutralise an opponent's resistance, where Flow Jitsu seems to be more about continually changing up attacks to move around an opponent's resistance, or to take advantage of and exploit it. In a couple of places you can pretend to allow an opponent an "out" of a submission which is actually a trap for a different submission.

This may not be a completely new concept to many brown or black belts, but Mike B demonstrates technique chains which are unusual and imaginative, as well as some tweaks for standard techniques which may slot right in to some people's games. He has a nice variation on the seat belt for back control he calls the "baby restraint", and a really nasty (in a good way) collar choke variation from the back mount.

Of particular interest to me were his use of the gi lapel tails, both yours and his to set up a number of different chokes from guard and mount, plus omoplatas, etc., depending on how the guy moves.

If you like the hip bump sweep and mount, and especially what Mike B calls the "face wrap", and what my Jiu Jitsu circles call the "gift wrap", this will be a great video for you. As a catalyst for imagination and development of a more flowing and responsive game, there are ideas here for just about anyone.

It is probably best for blue belts and above. In my experience, people don't really start learning to chain techniques together until they are about ready for their blue.

After 40

I started BJJ at 44 after about fifteen years of TMAs. I am 62 now. My Jiu Jitsu longevity guru is Steve Maxwell. He is 64.

Mike B is spry and flexible for a 47 year old, and some of his Facebook techniques will require considerable agility and flexibility. I follow his Facebook, not for advice how to train when you get old (whatever "old" means to you), but to see imaginative and interesting Jiu Jitsu.

It is likely that a style that flows and does not oppose resistance directly will result in  longer Jiu Jitsu career. But, in my opinion, this is not really "old guy" Jiu Jitsu.

That said:

None of the techniques on this video require more than moderate flexibility. As a 62 year old - though, perhaps, more athletic and agile than many of my contemporaries - I feel that all the techniques would be well within my capabilities, and do not require putting myself at risk from trying to assume precarious positions that taxed my physical attributes.

I liked this video, and plan to work through the technique chains. If you like the sound of it, I reckon it's definitely worth getting. I'd give it four stars, and would have given it more if it were a bit longer with more technique examples. There's a rich vein to be mined here.

Another, very detailed review, is here:


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