What is it? It’s a downloadable instructional from the Tom Barlow Online website that comprises two 40-minute videos – Modern Guard Attacks and Modern Guard Passing. They download as .mp4 files (about 600MB each) , so you can watch them pretty much anywhere. The first video is based around attacks from the De La Riva guard, and the second one is based around guard passing using a knee slide and leg weave combo and all the variations that can come off that.

How much does it cost? £27, but you also get a bonus 25 minute seminar on Chelsea’s variation of the lasso guard thrown in for free.

So who is Chelsea Leah? One of the world’s top female BJJ athletes. She won the Worlds at brown belt and medaled as a black belt at Worlds, Pan Ams and Europeans. Her black belt was awarded to her by André Galvão, and she’s currently an instructor at Mendes Brother’s Art of Jiu Jitsu Academy.

So, this is Jiu jitsu for girls, right? Not necessarily! It definitely works on boys too because Tom is the demo partner and Chelsea has no problem sweeping him over her head and passing his guard. I’d say Chelsea’s material was jiujitsu for lighter people who like to be mobile. If you’re an ultra heavyweight then these are probably not going to be your ‘go to’ options, but for people that are light and agile – whether you’re male or female –  these techniques will work great.

What format does it take? The instructionals are taught like a seminar, but address the camera directly. Rather than being a random collection of techniques, each technique builds on from the last, often depending on how the opponent reacts, so you end up with a pretty neat little game based on the De La Riva guard from the bottom and how to pass it from the top.

What’s ‘modern’ about it? This is not ‘old skool’ or ‘street’ style BJJ. Nobody here is worrying about whether this material will work against concealed weapons, punches or on concrete. These are the sorts of techniques that will work well in a gi-based IBJJF competition setting, where you need to think about winning and getting points, or just for when you’re rolling in class.  Also, without much weight, Chelsea needs to be very careful about how she uses it, so there’s a lot of detail in the guard passing on how to put pressure on your opponent, and where to put it. It’s very technical material, as you’d expect from an Art of Jiu Jitsu instructor.

This all sounds like it’s going to be too complicated? This material is not where you should be starting your journey into BJJ, but it’s also not overly complicated. Chelsea is pragmatic in her approach, and often quite happy to go for the most straightforward solution to most problems, rather than adding more and more steps to them – modern jiu jitsu doesn’t necessarily have to equal overly complicated jiu jitsu. For example, some grips your opponent takes you need to worry about, others… not so much. Often you can just blast through them, and she shows you how.

Tom Barlow going for a ride.

Sounds tempting. So, what will I learn? A ton of great stuff. In particular, how to defend against the knee slide pass, which is a constant problem for most people, and then how to turn your defence into some great sweeps and sneaky submissions, like a knee bar and toe hold from X Guard. See the full contents list at the bottom of this review. Chelsea’s approach tends to be reactive, so, rather than force things to happen she works off her opponent’s response – this is my favourite sort of jiujitsu, as it generally involves less effort, and is therefore more efficient.

Any submissions? A couple – specifically, a nice knee bar and toe hold from X Guard.

Anything else? Chelsea also covers how to deal with those annoying worm guard players who start to grab your lapel and wrap it around your arm or leg as you’re passing, and how to deal with the notorious Berimbolo attack.

What’s she like as a teacher? Really good! Her presentation style is clear and precise, and she has a very calm voice, which really helps you focus in and understand the technique she’s teaching. You’re in safe hands here, and you can tell she knows the material inside out and has used it in competition many times. What you’re getting in these videos is Chelsea’s own personal game, and I certainly learnt lots of things I’d never seen presented in quite this way before that I’m going to try out – particularly the Waiter Sweep from the Reverse De La Riva, her knee slide/leg weave passing combo and the X guard leg locks.

What’s the production quality like? These videos are pretty ‘no frills’. Unlike the full production quality you’d get from a Digitsu product, there are no multiple camera angles, no close ups and no slow motion replays. It’s just one camera angle and off you go.

Can I get an example of what you mean? Sure:

Should I get it? Is it worth the money?
 I’d have said yes anyway, but with the lasso guard instructional thrown in, it’s a no brainer. If your regular jiujitsu class spends a lot of time on fundamentals and traditional techniques, and you want to expand your game to include the more modern BJJ you see in competition, or you just want to understand the modern game so you can deal with it when you come up against it, then this is for you. The real icing on the cake here is the free lasso guard instructional – this is a powerful defensive guard, but it is also usually hard to attack using it. Chelsea has her own variation of it, which makes it much more aggressive.

Chelsea Leah’s Modern Jiu Jitsu

BJJ Notebook Rating: 4/5

TLDNR version: “The techniques that matter most for the modern BJJ competition game, covering attacking from the guard and passing in detail. Get it!”  


Full package contents listing:

Modern Guard Attacks

  1. Pulling De La Riva Guard
  2. Guard pull to over head sweep
  3. Over head sweep to closed guard
  4. De La Riva retention
  5. De La Riva guard to waiter sweep
  6. Waiter sweep to pass
  7. Waiter sweep to back
  8. De La Riva to X Guard
  9. De La Riva to X Guard knee bar
  10. X Guard to knee bar to toe hold
  11. Knee bar to 50/50 guard pass


Modern Guard passing

  1. Torreando passing drill
  2. Knee slide pass
  3. Forcing knee slide position
  4. Leg weave pass
  5. Step over pass position
  6. De La Riva guard recovery counter
  7. Inverse leg drag
  8. Inverse leg drag to windscreen wiper
  9. Countering the Berimbolo
  10. Lapel guard pass
  11. Early worm guard pass
  12. The late worm guard pass


Chelsea teaching the Knee Slide pass.