I’ve seen a lot of different jiu-jitsu video sites, but there’s nothing else out there quite like MGinAction. It’s not just a video technique library; it's really a jiu-jitsu learning system. I used MGinAction to study a couple of sweeps that I was struggling with for this review. I am now hitting them pretty regularly in practice after just a week. In this review, I’m going to give you an in-depth look at the strengths and weaknesses of MGinAction.
MGinAction is about Marcelo Garcia, and it gives us a window into the daily development and training of one of the world's best grapplers. Marcelo is a fierce competitor; four world championships and three ADCC championships prove that. But not everyone who dominates on the mat can teach. Garcia, it turns out, is that rare combination of great competitor and great teacher.
In person, Marcelo is warm, friendly, and humble, and that feeling comes through when he is teaching. He is genuinely engaged in the development of his students, and doesn’t just go through the motions of showing a technique. You get both the technique details and the thought processes and concepts behind them, which is critical to your success.
Marcelo is also very open and generous with what he teaches. There are no secrets here, no forbidden knowledge. He shares everything about his game. His academy is really an open source grappling laboratory, and if you’re a jiu-jitsu addict, that’s an exciting place to be.
While the focus of MGinAction is Marcelo, it was designed by his friend, business partner and student, Josh Waitzkin. Waitzkin is the subject of the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer, which chronicles his remarkable early childhood chess career. Waitzkin is also experienced in martial arts, having won two world championships in Tai Chi Chuan Push Hands competitions.
The learning strategies that Josh used to master both chess and Tai Chi Chuan so rapidly are documented in his book the Art of Learning, and he used them during his design of MGinAction.
Marcelo teaches almost every class at his Academy. Each class is filmed, catalogued, and then uploaded to the site on a daily basis. Right now MGinAction has nearly 5000 videos in its database, and that number is growing fast.
The quality of the videos is excellent, and the audio is very good. The videos are shot from right on the mat during class and so the feeling is very similar to being there in person. Marcelo teaches the techniques, expands on concepts, and answers student questions during the videos.
The video player used in MGinAction has some handy features like a zoom, a ratings button, and slow motion playback. One of the advantages of any online system is the ability to watch and re-watch the technique until you truly understand it, and that’s true here too.
Capturing videos during class gives them a comfortable and personal feeling, and you really get a chance to see Marcelo's personality. This makes them different from a lot of technique videos that are shot in a studio and can be boring. Sometimes when producing a DVD of technique videos the instructor needs to cover 30 or 40 techniques over and over again in a single day. It’s no wonder they put you to sleep! You won’t have that problem with MGinAction, it’s fresh and en gaging video.
MGinAction is really a video database of jiu-jitsu techniques, and the value of a database is determined not only by the data it holds, but in how you can manipulate and interact with that data. This is where MGinAction really shines.
To make the magic happen, the team at Marcelo's Academy takes every bit of video they collect and break it down into segments, and then tag each segment. Tags are a very powerful way to organize data. For instance a video clip may have multiple tags such as guard, controls and grips, and hand fighting from butterfly. It might also be tagged instructional, advanced, discussion, or sparring. These tags make it possible to pull video clips from the database when someone searches for any of those phrases. It also makes it possible to browse techniques by various positions or situations.
For instance, let's say you wanted to study Marcelo's hook sweep from butterfly. You can browse to that technique in the navigation tree and then select it. You'll see that there are 646 videos tagged with that technique. When you click on the technique the site loads all of those videos into the video selection window. Along the top of the video selection window you'll see different contexts such as fundamentals, advanced, in action, sparring, drills, and discussions.
Both the fundamentals and advanced context are instructional videos. The in action context a short five to twenty second video clips of that technique in live-action. The sparring context is a full sparring session in which that technique appears. The drills context includes drills that can help with that technique, and the discussions context shows Marcelo discussing the concepts behind the technique.
We have a chance to watch a technique being taught in class from both fundamental and advanced perspective, and also watch the technique being applied in live rolling. An especially cool feature is the ability to load the inaction clips into a queue and then play them back with single click of the mouse. So immediately after watching Marcelo teach the hook sweep from butterfly, we can see a stream of many short clips of him performing the technique over and over in live rolling. It's a very powerful way to ingrain the technique into your memory.
You also have the ability to create your own custom page, and create your own collection of videos. While the video queue is a useful tool for a single study session, if you want to come back over time to a technique you can save it in your video collection in a folder that you can name yourself. This could be useful to you wanted to create a folder of sweeps, or maybe a folder of techniques that you might think would work well against a particular opponent.
Another feature of MGinAction is the research suggestions, and the related instructional techniques suggestions. When you are watching a video, you'll notice that the website automatically suggests other related videos for you. These suggestions might be the same technique in a different context, a variation on the technique, or a completely different technique for the same situation (such as passing guard while standing). This can be really handy and sometimes makes suggestions that you wouldn't normally think of on your own.
Get a Free Week's Trial of MGinAction - Click Here and Use Code BJJWEEKLY
Room for improvement
MGinAction is an amazing resource but nothing is perfect in their a few areas that could use some improvement.
With almost 5000 videos, and all those tags to sort through sometimes searching and browsing can feel a bit sluggish. And when you click on a technique with lots of videos it can take a while to load into the video view window.
The video player has several slow-motion speeds available, but it would be nice is to also have a fast-forward. Sometimes when watching a roll, or even a technique I found myself wanting to skim through to get to a particular part and that's not possible with the current player.
Marcelo does mix in a lot of concept with his daily technique teachings, but there are very few videos that are really dedicated solely to concept or strategy. It would be great to listen to Marcelo discuss more of this type of material.
The tagging system of the database is very powerful, and it would be nice to be able to simply browse by tags through some sort of a tag cloud or list.
My biggest complaint for the system is that there is no instruction manual, or how to videos to get you started. It took quite a bit of clicking around to really feel comfortable and start to understand the fundamental concepts behind the site design. For example I didn't really understand the difference between the queue and the video collection at first. Once you understand the design intent of the site, it’s great, but MGinAction is so different from the standard video library or technique DVD that it really requires a good orientation.
I have to be honest with you, although I know a lot of guys complain about costs for training. It doesn't matter if you pay $50 or $500 a month to support your jiu-jitsu habit; this is one of the cheapest sports in the world to participate in. Try snowmobiling, or hockey, or bicycling, or windsurfing, or BMX riding, or car racing, or poker, or anything else and you'll find that jiu-jitsu is an amazing bargain when you consider the return on your investment.
No one I know who trains jiu-jitsu would ever give up their experience, even if you gave them back all the money they’d ever spent on the sport. All right, I'll get off the soap box.
MGinAction is $25 per month and it is an absolute bargain at that price. You're getting unlimited access to one of the world's best grapplers delivered to your computer or cell phone. Whether you use it as a supplement to your regular classes, or you don't have someplace to train currently, or you just want to practice with a buddy in your garage, you should absolutely be willing to make this type of investment if you're serious about your BJJ game.
MGinAction is an amazing resource for learning and improving your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game. It has features that no other site currently offers, and of course it has Marcelo Garcia. The site can be used no matter what your current level is, and no matter how you like to watch or study videos. The team at MGinAction has put in an amazing amount of work creating the database and tagging all the videos, and they continue to upload new content every day. It is so much more than just another technique video library.
BJJ Weekly readers can have a free trial for a week. Just sign up here using the code BJJWEEKLY. I know for me it's been a fantastic learning tool and in just a short time it’s made a huge difference in my game. I just hope my training partners don’t all read this and sign up too! If my grandmother trained, I would tell her she should sign up – that’s how much I believe in the program.
Go check it out and let me know what you think -
BJJ Weekly will receive an incentive if you do decide to become a member after your trial using our code. It will be used to support the newsletter and continue to bring great free content to our readers every week. And trust me, you'll be happy you made the investment when you see how much your game improves!