As you take more classes and get comfortable, most teachers will inevitably ask you to add watching footage to your schedule. Watching pure BJJ matches can do a lot for your game by showing you approaches that you might not otherwise encounter.

As new techniques enter the competition world such as berimbolo and 50/50, watching black belts both use and counter these techniques can help accelerate your own understanding.


So where to start? Lets go through three types of tape to go out and get three rules of watching tape, and three notable matches to start on.

Three Types

Your Matches

Footage of you rolling or in a tournament is by far the best kind to have. Quality footage of yourself can be hard to find due to camera quality and rough angles. When watching your own matches you should pay attention to the positions you gravitate towards. Are your primary attacks effective? If not, what is stalling them? What positions do you seem to lose the most often? The key with those situations is to look at the circumstances that lead up to your bad position. Perhaps you are missing a transition or have a limb in an easily exploitable position.  Above all else watch both your victories and your defeats!

Video of Someone with your Style

Finding a black belt with a style you want to emulate is a great learning tool. What better way to refine your passing game than to watch the best in the world? Black belts employ finely tuned basics and advanced combinations that can lead you to question your approaches. What do they see in the position that is so appealing from an effectiveness perspective? Ask your instructor to suggest a blackbelt to check out!


Just Plain Great Tape

Classic matches are famous for a reason. Watching the best matches from the major tournaments is a great way to keep up with whats going on in the BJJ world. Here’s the open weight final from the 2014 World Professional Jiujitsu Cup.  Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida and Rodolfo Vieira have been having a string of amazing matches. This is a close one!

Three Rules

Rule 1: Watch with Purpose

BJJ matches have rushes of activity as well as a lot of static positions. Much like you would reduce the time between practice repetitions,you don’t want to spend a lot of your time watching positions without much action. I typically watch matches of interest through once  then go back and examine key moments.

Rule 2: Watch with Paper

If you’re watching some videos for fun go ahead and don’t worry about taking notes. If you are watching video tape to learn have some place to both write down your thoughts and also to mark places in the video for review. I usually watch videos with a notepad open on my computer. I typically go with a very standard format:

Time :: Position :: Notes –>  8:30 :: Half Guard :: Counter to the cross-face followed by transition to butterfly guard

Rule 3: Watch in Slow Motion

Did you know that in the settings section of most major video sites you can slow a video down? offers both half and one quarter speed. Use this feature to find your favorite moments and analyze them in detail!

Three Great Starters

A Clash of Titans: 2004 Worlds – Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza Vs Roger Gracie

This is simply one of the best matches that has ever taken place. A classic rivalry between two greats with an ending that has to be seen. Absolute divisions are often the place to see two champions with classically different styles. The 194lb Souza with his athletic aggression and the 221lb Gracie with his refined simplicity make for a potent combination.

Everyone is Human: 2012 Pan American Championships – Rafael Mendes Vs Rubens “Cobrinha” Maciel

A great match with yet another fantastic ending.  Peso Pena (154lbs) weight class has been dominated by Mendes and Cobrinha for a very long time. Every meeting between these powerhouses is a battle and this is no exception.

David Vs Goliath: 2005 ADCC: Ricco Rodriguez Vs Marcelo Garcia

Technique is an amazing thing especially in the hands of Marcelo Garcia. Seeing this match versus the far larger Ricco Rodriguez is just plain fun. No-gi  matches often have a different pace and feel. Watch how Marcelo nullifies the larger man with great movement and mat awareness.