Ideas on Roberto "Cyborg" Abreu, Agility and Flow Drills
Exploring agility in the heavier athlete…
Bigger guys have a stigma. Often times they are pictured as the plodding heavy weight. They are feared for their size and strength. But agility is not a factor in the equation. Occasionally you meet a heavy weight who moves like a 150 pound fighter; it is the grappling equivalent of a unicorn. Too often, we write this agility off as genetics and dismiss the possibility that it is due to the fighter’s skill and training. However, that may be the intellectual equivalent of saying strong people are born strong or great grapplers are born great. Certainly, we all have a relative gift however those gifts are of nominal value if they are not nurtured. Perhaps, writing off a heavyweight’s agility as genetics is of the same poor logic as ascribing genetics as the sole factor of strength.
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Roberto "Cyborg" Abreu is a name familiar to the Jiu Jitsu community. He has won a myriad of titles including gold at the 2010, 2011 and 2012 IBJJF No-Gi World Championships. He is a multiple time ADCC veteran and won the absolute division at ADCC 2013. However, Cyborg is not the typical heavyweight. He moves like a lightweight fighter. Some would argue he moves better than a light weight fighter.
Part of Cyborgs cat-like agility can be ascribed to flow drills. Flow drills are a hybrid of drilling a move and live rolling. Often times when drilling a move your focus is on one or two moves or a move and a transition. They are great for learning a move and creating muscle memory. Rolling encompasses the Jiu Jitsu gambit; passing guard to the submission. The difference between rolling and a flow drill is in the level of resistance. With a flow drill you can get the repetitions in normally associated with drilling. However, the repetitions are not just in one or two moves or positions but often mimic a live roll going from the guard pass to a submission. Flow drills can also focus on transitions; having the best submissions in the world mean very little if you do not have effective transitions. Transitions are a huge component of Jiu Jitsu but besides flow drills, they are often ignored. Moreover, flow drills are great for seeing the big picture of Jiu Jitsu. They connect moves and positions together in potentially new ways for the Jiu Jitsu practitioner.
Below is a video of one of the flow drills Cyborg uses.
For many of us the idea of flow drills goes against our nature. We are fighters. We fell in love with the struggle of Jiu Jitsu a long time ago. We need the catharsis of fighting to the death. It is who we are. Yet athletes like Cyborg clearly illustrate the benefits of flow drills. They can transform the bigger fighters into agile athletes. They break through the stigma that agility in a heavier athlete is a gift of genetics.
It will be interested to see more in the future from Cyborg and flow drills. They will definitely be a welcomed addition to the bigger guy’s game.