The Black Belt Blueprint, by Nic Gregoriades, is a step by step guide to earning your black belt. Gregoriades begins the book with theory and concepts, rather than the usual approach of diving right into the techniques. The beauty of this book is that it can be used by veterans and novices alike. Regardless of how much you know, this book will teach you something new. The layout of the book is very simple, yet very effective.
Introduction – “Before You Start”
To start off, Gregoriades gives us a simple, but true statement on the fact that merely reading about and watching Jiu jitsu is not the same as actually doing it. He explains that you should not look for shortcuts. Instead, he states the practical matters that need to be dealt with, such as finding a school and all necessary equipment.
Gregoriades is very flexible in his way of teaching. For example, he describes his method as a way, but not the best or the only way. Right from the start, he promises to help each reader “become their own teacher”.
In this section, he begins with the necessary history of BJJ. Rather than using all color photographs for techniques (as seen in most BJJ books), he separates the figures by using black and white (one is black and one is white). This helps readers have a better ability of determining limb placement and grips.
Gregoriades runs through each major position by discussing the strengths and weaknesses of each position, the objectives in each position, and he even provides tips for the person on top and the person on the bottom in each position.
“The Three Pillars of a Black Belt”
Gregoriades moves on from technique in this section. Throughout the Black Belt Blueprint, he consistently mentions the importance of “attribute maximization”. Gregoriades states that, “you need to maximize your attributes, if you want to maximize your Jiu jitsu”. He believes that the stronger fighter always has an advantage over the weaker fighter. Then, he goes into the second and third pillars. which are conceptual understanding and technical knowledge. He presents a potential route through each belt level, and suggests goals for each stage. Though, it all comes down to personal preference.
The fourth part of the book opens with a discussion on breathing. This is a topic very important to Gregoriades. The section is illustrated with a picture of Rickson Gracie to illustrate the importance of breath control in Jiu jitsu. Gregoriades advises using yoga for breathing control. Following breathing control, he goes into other concepts, such as angles, contraction, and head movement. The B.O.S.S. principle (if you are on top, put them on their back, and if you are on the bottom get to your side or shoulder) is also explained in this section.
“On The Mat”
Finally, we get to the ‘essentials’. Gregoriades kicks off this section with a series of fundamental techniques, such as bridging and shrimping. After that, he goes into detail on the essential defensive techniques, which include guard recovery, elbow escape under mount, and standing guard pass. This is followed by essential attacks, which include straight arm lock from the guard, bow and arrow, and the triangle. Though, many of the attacks could have had better explanations for beginners.
“Invisible Jiu Jitsu”
Within this section, Gregoriades explains new age learning practices that he advises you to look into. He explains that ‘focus exercises’ should be used to develop awareness. Then, the book shifts to more familiar BJJ concepts, such as leaving your ego at home, reduction of energy use in sparring, and the importance of good balance.
“Improving off the Mat”
Gregoriades suggests visualization as a tool for improvement when you aren’t actually practicing. In this section, he includes many flow diagrams and several forms of training to supplement Jiu jitsu. He even goes into nutrition, yoga, and his own conditioning program.
“The Jiu Jitsu Lifestyle”
In the final section of the Black Belt Blueprint, Gregoriades writes on the nature of Jiu jitsu. He includes his thoughts on efficiency, perception, and refinement from his own experiences. Gregoriades also discusses competition and injury prevention. This section is followed by a “further resources” section, which is a collection of books, dvds, schools, and websites that Gregoriades personally recommends.