Since a long time ago, I had heard of 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu. For Americans, and a select few people overseas who’ve trained at accredited schools, this is nothing new.
But for someone like me who has never lived close enough to a 10th Planet affiliate, these two weeks was an eye-opening window into the realm of things possible in no-gi Jiu-Jitsu.
I was in Orange County for two weeks for family reasons. After two weeks of training in boxing / Muay Thai at Echo Park Boxing, I moved closer to a Jiu Jitsu gym, and went back to working on ground game.
Before coming to 10th Planet, I had heard a lot about it, like “that’s a classic 10th Planet technique” or “so and so is a black belt in the 10th Planet system”. So I knew it was famous, and knew it was no-gi only, but that’s it.
About 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu
For those unfamiliar with 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, here’s a brief and unofficial overview.
Even though it’s still Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, focusing mostly on groundwork and some stand-up grappling, 10th Planet-style Jiu Jitsu is focused exclusively on no-gi jiu-jitsu. This means that most people will wear shorts and a rash vest, and may also wear compression pants, but never the “gi” / “kimono”.
To start at 10th Planet or any no gi gym is much easier, as you can do so in shorter gym shorts and a gym shirt. Although people buy gear pretty quickly!
10th Planet was founded by Eddie Bravo in Los Angeles, California. Eddie Bravo was a black belt in traditional Brazilian Jiu Jitsu already. Ostensibly, his goal in abandoning the gi was to focus on techniques more relevant to mixed martial arts (MMA), where sparring partners don’t use a gi.
But in reality, the 10th Planet style — while definitely still very useful in MMA, and much more so than traditional BJJ — has developed into its own system. In classes, anecdotally, people don’t worry about whether an opponent will strike them, for example, and don’t stress about keeping their guard up when initiating a takedown. The 10th Planet people I’ve spoken to in the classes compete more in no-gi Jiu Jitsu (e.g. ADCC) and in 10th Planet’s internal competitions.
One thing I noticed as soon as I entered 10th Planet was that it’s really its own style and system. There are many things unique — or that get extra emphasis — in 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, including guards, submissions, and even terminology.
I came into 10th Planet having done about a year of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu already, and having watched a lot of videos, but I was still caught off guard (literally… also figuratively) by many names of things, including
- 100% Sweep — a sweep from closed guard with a trapped arm and head
- Carni — a crazy submission one of the coaches did on me, getting their foot under my throat in closed guard. I’ve tried it… I can’t get my leg that high with my aging bones! I’ll try again (might be technique rather than flexibility that blocked me)
- Electric chair — A sweet and basically a submission from the rubber guard, getting them to do the splits (it’s very uncomfortable). I think the “Banana Split” is the actual splits sweep from this point.
- Lockdown guard — I had heard of this, but at 10th Planet I think I’ve seen it in 50% of sparring rolls!
- Honeyhole — a seated position where the partner has trapped your leg above the knee
- Rubber Guard — pretty common in Jiu Jitsu overall, but still, a big thing in 10th Planet
- Truck — an entry into the Twister and other attacks
- Twister — I knew this, but it’s also illegal in many forms of Jiu Jitsu competition. But it’s permitted in MMA and also in 10th Planet comps.
You probably know of some of the above positions / submissions, either as is or by a different name. I knew of some of them (e.g. Lockdown Guard), but saw them to a much greater degree at 10th Planet.
About 10th Planet Community / Culture (in Orange County / LA)
The community and culture of a gym are everything to me. You can get nice mats, a fancy brand name, and decent pricing, but the community dictates whether people will stay and come back.
In large part, the community is dictated by the coaching and ownership, which I’ll get to in a second.
Briefly: The 10th Planet Fullerton community is excellent. The best of any gym I’ve been to. I have only stayed at gyms where I’ve liked the people, but I really like 10th Planet people. It might be 10th Planet Fullerton, or Orange County, or maybe the LA area generally (which culturally is pretty similar to LA in the scheme of things… people are diverse and friendly, though less transient in OC than in LA).
Why is the 10th Planet community?
- Friendly as heck: After a week, I already felt like I was part of the community and making friends. After two weeks, I genuinely felt sad I wouldn’t go back any time soon! People always ask my name, chat with me, ask about me, and do so with genuine interest. So many people!
- Encouraging: I was shocked at how many people found something nice to say about something. I mean, I always do it too, but these guys were very generous with their compliments. And it’s not because I’m particularly good, they were just good with expressing it.
- Eager to teach: Whenever I asked, someone would show me how they did something to me. There’s so much I don’t know about the 10th Planet system, so this happened a lot.
- Limited ego: Almost without exception, people I rolled with weren’t gung ho about “winning”, and found something nice to say even if they destroyed me.
I’m confident that at least the other LA branches (after all, 10th Planet is based in LA) have the same culture. Membership to one gives you access to all the LA branches, and people come and go all the time.
I’m less sure about the other 10th Planet branches around the world, but I’m sure the culture is similar, with local differences (e.g., I think Australians on the whole are as friendly but aren’t as naturally chatty as Americans).
The culture at the 10th Planet Fullerton gym is fairly diverse, loosely representative of the area, I suppose. The one thing that stood out is that there are limited female participants (roughly 1:10 or less), but that’s a common trend among BJJ gyms. The exceptions — which are rare — are more notable.
Coaching style at Fullerton
Hang-lean-rest,– Isaac, one of the coaches
I heard those refrains quite a few times in just the two weeks I was there. They’re reflective of Isaac’s coaching style — he goes into detail, but he pulls it up into some quick and easy-to-remember phrases that have a lot of depth in them.
I just went to 11am sessions, so all coaching was done by Isaac Cordova, who coincidentally received his black belt while I was there. Isaac’s a young guy (well, younger than me… but that’s not hard) with old-school maturity in his style of coaching. He has been training for over a decade, most of it with 10th Planet or in the style.
Having seen a bunch of coaches already, I rank Isaac among the best!
The classes were usually 1.5 hours on paper but usually ran over, with open mat afterwards.
The classes at 10th Planet Fullerton follow a general curriculum with areas of focus. For example, the two weeks I was there, we did guard passing, with no work (or very limited work) on guard defence or takedowns. As I was leaving, they shifted to choke attacks.
The general style of the classes is
- Brief intro
- Around 30-45 minutes of a series of techniques, building on each other, working with one training partner.
- A 5-10 minute period of positional sparring (pass / sweep / submit)
- Closing remarks
- Rolling / open mat
The rolling round were usually six minutes, but I suppose that might vary at other times. People went for as long as they wanted, and the gym generally closed after 10 rounds or so.
That’s right, no warm-up! No running around the mat in circles! No push-ups! No shrimps! Thank goodness, no shrimping.
Isaac won’t of course be around forever (coaches always move on, start their own studios etc.), but the locals are glad to have him.
You can book private training with Isaac and see his video on his site, dovadoggdojo.com.
The Space / Facilities at 10th Planet Fullerton
I don’t know how many square metres / feet / acres this gym is, but it’s massive. Twenty or thirty people can train there at once… in fact with 10 pairs of people rolling there’s still plenty of space. It’s America! There’s lots of space (well, outside the center of big cities, anyway).
The area is ~80% mat, plus some benches to put your stuff, and some locker rooms / bathrooms out back. The area is undergoing renovation as at early 2023, so I can’t comment on the final product.
If you’re visiting and paying month-to-month (cancellable), membership at 10th Planet Fullerton is $210 per month right now. Pretty reasonable price for California, though of course that’s expensive for more. An ongoing membership is $159.99. You can see more on the site, in case this gets out of date, which I expect it will soon.
One thing that’s notable is that membership gets you access to a network of gyms. So if you’re travelling around for work, you can drop into the others.
Quick note — I noticed while writing this post that the website “http://www.10thplanetorangecounty.com/”, which I used late 2022 to find out about this location, now redirects to “https://www.ocnogijiujitsu.com/”. I’m not sure if some rebranding is underway.
I really enjoyed my time at 10th Planet Fullerton. I’d love to go back for three months (or more!) and get more of the curriculum.
But I had more travels to do, so I left mid-Jan for Argentina, to train at Breakers MMA in Buenos Aires. I haven’t found out much about it and reviews seem a little old, but they have a nice website and … we’ll see! I’m a little apprehensive, but if that doesn’t work out, I’ll buy another Gi and head to Allianz or somewhere similar.