Examining Satoshi Souza's weapons of choice


Roberto Satoshi de Souza of Bonsai Jiu Jitsu started to appear in the jiu jitsu competition limelight a few years as a very dangerous brown belt competitor. Before this, he was already a very active and succesful competitor at lower belt levels in Japan. Satoshi's final black belt breakthrough occurred at the past European Championship where he snatched the gold right in front of favourites Michael Langhi and JT Torres. He also has a notable win over top lightweight Lucas Lepri.

"Toshi" is one of the five Souza brothers (including the also well known Marcos de Souza) and has been living in Japan for quite a while now. He is teaching and training at Bonsai Jiu Jitsu in Shizuoka. The brothers had the priviledge the learn jiu jitsu directly from their father Adilson de Souza. Bonsai Jiu Jitsu's connection to Atos Jiu Jitsu has most likely also affected his style because there has a been a number of great Atos fighters (Bruno Frazatto, Gilbert Burns and the Mendes brothers) visiting the Bonsai academy in Japan throughout the years. The brothers are also known to train with Atos to prepare for competitions.

The reason Satoshi originally caught my eye in a BJJ spirits DVD was that he has a very aggressive and crowd pleasing style that many of today's competitors lack. He also has a versatile and fast style which is very difficult to figure out the first time you see it. Unlike many competitors, he doesn't always go for the same thing which also makes what he does difficult to examine. After watching hours and hours of footage, I have been perhaps able to find 2 techniques that are very distinctive to his style for a brief technique analysis.

1. Reverse De La Riva

Satoshi's guard of choice is his reverse De La Riva guard which he often spices up with a leg lasso control. In leg lasso reverse DLR he has s traditional leg lasso and sleeve grip on the outside and a reverse De La Riva hook and an ankle grip on the inside. He often decides to pull guard in his matches and has a number of really good options from this position.

Personally I am most impressed by how good his transitions to other guards and submissions are from the reverse De La Riva. Although Satoshi seems to prefer the standard Reverse De La Riva approach which is securing the hooked ankle or pant, sometimes he abandons the ankle grip for an underhook control on the opponent's opposite leg, which is his preferred grip for the roll over sweep and the triangle.

The underhook grip is often used as a transitional position in Satoshi's game to other types of open guards and in many cases is combined with removing the De La Riva hook to look for other options. Most of the time, this other option is putting the removed De La Riva leg on his opponent's opposite hip resembling a arm bar attempt position.

Based on a ton of competition footage, some of  his most succesful techniques from the position are:
  • Coming up on a single leg sweep
  • Tripod sweep by moving the hook leg behind the other leg's ankle
  • Roll over sweep (with either underhook or wrist control)
  • Triangle from underhook control
  • Taking the back/sweeping in a scramble by inverting
Here is a quick highlight of his Reverse DLR guard work I put together:

2. Diving ankle pick single leg

When not pulling guard, Satoshi's most common take down seems to be a "diving" ankle pick single. He basically likes to shoot for his opponent's ankle like a Superman and comes of for a single leg control. I think the takedown might be so succesful because it is initiated from outside the normal range for jiu jitsu takedowns.

Here is quick compilation of his diving ankle picks:

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