ADCC Flashback: Eddie Bravo and the birth of 10th Planet

With ADCC 2019 fast approaching, Grapplinginsider.com has decided to chronicle the most iconic moments in ADCC history. In this edition, we will look back at the rise of Eddie Bravo and the birth of 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu

Eddie Bravo is one of the most revered members of the jiu jitsu community, his views are valued and while his eccentricities have been questioned by some, it’s now widely excepted that he has one of the best minds for grappling in the world. Bravo’s path to acceptance has been long and arduous, but one night set the wheels in motion for the rise of 10th Planet.

Sao Paulo, Brazil. May 17, 2003. Gustavo Dantas steps on to the mat of the Ibirapuera Gymnasium for the opening match of the 66kg bracket of the illustrious ADCC tournament. The Brazilian exudes confidence and is buoyed by the partisan crowd of his compatriots. The fans sit eagle-eyed awaiting the Nova Uniao black belt’s victim.

Standing opposite Dantas is an unknown American brown belt. As far as the crowd were concerned, Eddie Bravo was like a lamb being lead to slaughter. As the match began it became immediately clear that Eddie Bravo was no normal brown belt. Within minutes Bravo showed his presence of mind and composure while tactfully outwitting his opponent en-route to a rear-naked choke victory. For Bravo to beat Dantas was a surprise, but it would pale in comparison to what was about to happen.

Pro wrestling icon Ric Flair once famously noted that “to be the man you gotta beat the man” and for combat sports that has always been the case. Greatness is built upon the names of others and for Eddie Bravo, his greatness was about to be witness by the grappling world.

Words don’t do justice to the achievements of Royler Gracie. It is easy to list off Royler’s accolades: he was a three-time ADCC champions, a four-time world champion and much more. While his achievements were monumental, he was so much more than the sum of all his medals. Royler Gracie was an unstoppable phenom, the Mike Tyson of grappling and on that night in Sao Paulo he unknowingly was about to meet his Buster Douglas.

From the opening seconds Gracie’s confidence was apparent. As the baby-faced Bravo butt-scooted forward, Royler looked to secure a knee slice or a standing pass. Bravo managed to get to quarter-guard and from there he began to chain the sequences from which the 10th Planet system would be built upon.

Royler would find himself in Bravo’s lockdown before escaping and passing to side control. From side control, Eddie hit a jailbreak escape, got to mission control, zombie’d Royler’s arm and attacked from crackhead control before trying to clear Royler’s head. Royler seized his opportunity to pass and found himself in Bravo’s side control once again, but this time when Eddie hit his patented jail break he transitioned almost instantaneously to a triangle choke.

As Eddie squeezed in the fully locked in choke the Ibirapuera Gymnasium was silent with the lone exception of a pair of gringos cheering loudly. Joe Rogan, who would become a pivotal player in Bravo’s rise to notoriety was matside watching his best friend do the unthinkable. Royler Gracie was forced to tap and Eddie Bravo was declared the victor.

Bravo’s ADCC outing had reached its pinnacle. He had beaten the reigning champion and garnered the acclaim of spectators across the world. In the next round of the tournament Bravo would be defeated by the eventual champion Leo Vieira.

While Eddie’s victory over Gracie was impressive in his own right, the manner in which he won was breathtaking. Bravo utilized a set of techniques that were not commonplace and this earned the brown belt a lot of attention.

On his return to America, the 10th Planet system was born and Eddie Bravo began to create a grappling empire. The 10th Planet system has changed the way in which nogi grappling has been imagined and taught by instructors across the world.

After 15 years of 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu, the system is now reaching its full potential with athletes like Geo Martinez and Tony Ferguson showing the proficiency of Bravo’s teaching.

Without ADCC and that one night in Sao Paulo the landscape of contemporary jiu jitsu would be completely different.