DVD Review: Tony Pacenski Sao Paulo Approach and Smash Pass Fusion

Tony Pacenski, a black belt from BJJ revolution team has a fairly recent dvd series called "Faixa Preta Series" which includes 4 DVDs in total. Tony has been studying bjj for a long time, and apparently used to go to the original gracie academy in Torrance. Therefore, it was surprising for me me that the DVDs focus on quite modern techniques such as the 50/50 guard and Sao Paulo (similar to leg drag) passing. This is a review of the DVD Sao Paulo Passing and Smash Pass Fusion:

Here is one of Tony's old challenge matches at Gracie Academy:

Here is preview of the DVD:

Tony starts the DVD out with a drill to learn how to redirect the hips and prevent the opponent from turning back into you. So it basicly shows you what the Sao Paulo approach (or redirecting hips to leg drag control) is and allows you to drill it in an easy manner. The drill starts from side mount and the goal is to use the hip redirect to prevent your opponents from establishing half guard by turning into you and connecting his knee to his elbow. I really like that an instructional contains some easy drills like this.

Here is quick video of the basic leg drag control in a match between Rafa Mendes and Robson Moura at around three and a half minutes.

The rest of the DVD is about combining the hip redirect or leg drag control with other common and less common scenarios. The list of scenarios includes:

- Under pass with leg on shoulder (to both sides)
- De La Riva passing recap from Sao Paulo approach 1 and a lot of passing from there
- Toreanda passing recap
- Reverse De La Riva passing recap +
- Double bicep spider passing
- Leg lasso/Spider lasso passing
- Half guard passing
- Butterfly guard passing from many diffirent control & drills on how to react against opponent's movements

The DVD includes some additional stuff too such as alternative leg drag control like getting your knee under both your opponent's legs, details on how to work the passing situation etc. I was particularily pleased that Tony showed a reverse De La Riva pass that seemed to be quite easily applied as I have never seen any reverse DLR passes before.

Overall, the production quality is not the best, because it is just shot with one camera inside his gym I believe. However,  in my opinion, it is only a small setback.

The best thing for me is that the DVD for me is that it actually shows the way most top lightweights seem to pass guard nowadays so the techniques are very relevant. Competitors like the Mendes brothers, Tanquinho etc. seem to be using similar techniques than on the DVD but they have not released any material on the subject. This seems to be a trend among lightweights and passing..

There also seems to a bunch of dvds focusing on different types of guards but a very few that show ways to deal effectively with these modern guards (Andre Galvao's passing guard being one of them). It also shows a fairly complete system of guard passing.

One complaint is that, I would also like him to show the techniques once at full speed. This is a problem I have with Saulo's DVDs because sometimes I just would like to watch a certain technique without any explanation.


- Good modern techniques that should work great on black belt level regardless of weight class (+)
- Interesting idea of showing a complete game against different types of open guard (+)
- Native English and good teaching (+)
- Poor video quality (-)
- Doesn't have techniques shown individually without narration so you can just look at the technique itself (-)

Overall grade: 8 1/2/10

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