Review of The Living Legend: Marcelo Garcia by Stuart Cooper

Stuart Cooper Marcelo Garcia



Stuart Cooper recently released his 90 minute documentary on Marcelo Garcia sold exclusively on vimeo for the grand total of $4.

A little about Stuart Cooper

Stuart is a BJJ brown belt who’s currently making a name for himself traveling around the world and spending time training, filming, and interviewing a lot of big names in BJJ.  He used to be a wedding videographer and slowly transitioned into filming BJJ which is his true passion.  This past June, he decided to hold an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to collect donations in order to help in achieve his dream of filming BJJ documentaries full time.  He managed to collect $22,750 out of his goal of $50,000.  While he didn’t reach his goal, this was still a testament to the generosity of the BJJ community.

I was a donor.  I enjoyed his previous work and wanted to support him.  I know how hard it is to chase your dreams as an artist and how little money there actually is in BJJ currently (that’s why most are trying to transition into MMA), so I had no problem contributing to his cause.

Stuart Cooper Abs

Stuart’s Twitter Profile Pic – Some would say his abs are his greatest claim to fame…

Now a little about the subject: Marcelo Garcia

Full disclosure: I ABSOLUTELY LOVE MARCELO.  He is my ultimate man-crush!  I’m pretty much into anything Marcelo.  And while the BJJ Cavewife doesn’t currently know this yet, when the time comes, if we ever have a son, the name ‘Marcelo’ may or may not find its way onto the birth certificate!  There you go.  I put it out there.

Marcelo is a 5 time BJJ World Champion and 4 time ADCC champion.  Some consider him the greatest of all time, most consider him the greatest pound for pound BJJ practitioner of all time, and pretty much everyone agrees that he is the nicest guy to ever walk the planet.

I’ve actually had the pleasure of meeting him a couple times and training in his gym.  He was super gracious and friendly each time I visited, and actually remembered my face even though I hadn’t been back in a few months (he didn’t remember my name though, but he gets tons of visitors).  I’m sure he thought I was a freak because I asked to take a pic with him each and every single time I met him.  He even autographed this book for me:

Marcelo Garcia Autograph

For all of Marcelo Garcia’s BJJ prowess, his penmanship is pretty terrible. At best, I can make out “… … jiu-jitsu training!!” I redacted the BJJ Cavewife’s name because she’s shy and doesn’t want it public.

I’m telling you, I become as excited as a teenage girl when they meet the Backstreet Boys (wait a sec… that’s a pretty old reference, not sure what the current equivalent is now… Justin Beiber?).. whatever.. you know what I mean.

I even had the honor of training at his new academy on the first day it night it opened (you can read about my experiences here and here).

So when I saw that this video was available for $4.00, it was an easy decision.  Four bux for 90 minutes of the greatest of all time?  NO BRAINER.  I’ve spent $4.00 on far worse (crappy songs, crappy apps, crappy lattes etc.).

Purchasing It

The process of paying for the video was rather painless.  I clicked the buy button, created a Vimeo account, entered my paypal info, and voila, the video was available to stream or download.  I choose to download it so that I could watch it on my tv.

There are a few options for downloading, I selected the 1080p option which is the best resolution.  It was a 3.3 gig file and took an hour or so to download.  If you like, you can download it at lower resolutions with smaller files.

The Documentary

It was made in classic Stuart Cooper fashion.  If you want an idea as to what that is, check out his youtube channel, this video on the amazing Kyle Maynard, or this 43 minute documentary on Kurt Osiander.

The liberal use of filters, flairs, and ethereal music is a standard part of his style.

This documentary is conducted primarily as one long interview with cut scenes going to training sessions, various background videos of New York, clips of Marcelo’s competing, and lots of HD close ups of Marcelo’s face.

There is no real narrative here.  No real build up to a climax and eventual resolution.  It’s almost like a flow roll.  It just goes, gently exploring things this way and that way with no real goal or destination.

It’s simply 90 minutes of Marcelo talking and reflecting and smiling

You don’t actually need to watch this in one sitting.

What you’ll learn

  • A taste of what it’s like to be in the Marcelo Academy with footage from warmups, live training, and techniques.
  • Hear directly from Marcelo about his background and how he got started.
  • What Marcelo’s alternative dream job would’ve been if BJJ didn’t work out.
  • Why he started practicing take downs.
  • Which match was most influential on his career and gave him the most confidence.
  • Why he never liked lifting and strength/conditioning and always avoided doing it… and why he regrets that now.
  • He reveals what supplemental non BJJ activity he does now to augment his game and help his body… and it’s not what you’d expect.
    • Clue: He doesn’t understand why everyone laughs at him when he tells people.
  • Why he doesn’t prefer mount.
  • There’s actually a very moving story from one of MGs students about drug addiction and how MG and BJJ saved his life

What I liked

90 Minutes of Marcelo frickin Garcia!

What I didn’t like

The biggest annoyance was that there were actually quite a few redundant clips.  Identical clips from the exact same competitions.  Identical footage from earlier in the documentary being used again!  At various points in the video I thought, ‘wait a minute… didn’t I just see that?’  And then I’d rewind and my suspicions would be confirmed.  This just seems like laziness on Stuart’s part.. or maybe just forgetfulness?  In any case, it was sloppy.

The second thing that bothered me was that during footage of the training sessions and New York background, you can see jiggling from the camera… lots of camera jiggling… reminded me a little of The Blair Witch Project but not to the same degree.  Seems like Stuart could have used something like this.

Minor annoyances:

  • Sometimes there are just so many filters and flares that they become disruptive.  It’s almost like watching someone playing with Powerpoint for the first time and using as many transitions as possible.  At some point it’s just too much.
  • The documentary really ends abruptly.  One millisecond after Marcelo’s last word, it cuts to the sponsors followed by redundant clips from competitions shown earlier in the film.
  • An occasional ad will pop up in the left lower corner that can be distracting, but it goes away after a minute or so.  I understand the need for sponsors (there are ads on my site too!) so this didn’t annoy me too much.

Random Thoughts

  • There were quite a few law firm sponsors.  Who knew that BJJ fans would be their target audience?
  • I few times I realized I was smiling dumbly at the monitor… like a strange mirror-reflex everytime I saw Marcelo’s million dollar smile.
  • Holy cow, Marcelo moves fast even in slow mo!
  • Watching this makes me want to train… like RIGHT NOW.

Who this is for

  • You’re new to the scene and want to learn more about who this Marcelo Garcia guy is and what all the fuss is about
  • You want to get a sense for what it’s like to train at Marcelo’s Academy, what the environment, culture, and students are like.
    • For example: Marcelo likes to put games into his warm-ups, so that’s why you see all the students smiling and having a good time
  • You want to get a sense of what Marcelo is like as a person
  • You are a Marcelo fan-boy like me and will buy anything Marcelo

Who this isn’t for

  • You’re looking for an instructional or review of techniques.  It’d be better for you to sign up for (Marcelo’s amazing online compendium) or search around for free youtube clips.
  • You’re looking for a pump-you-up-and-get-fired-up type of video.  It’d be better to watch something like this or this.
  • You’ve already seen every youtube clip and MGinAction video available, read both his books (The X-Guard and Advanced Techniques), and have all his instructionals… well then you’re the king fan-boy.  You win!
  • You’re looking for a video containing amazing narrative, with a build up, climax, and resolution.  This is what you’re looking for!  Or this.

Final Thoughts

While it definitely could’ve used a little more polish and the repeated clips and camera jiggling really did get annoying, overall I’m happy with my purchase and would do it over again in a heartbeat.  But then again we already know how I feel about Marcelo.

We can all agree that Stuart Cooper is no Christopher Nolan, but I applaud him for chasing his dream, so I’m happy to support him.  It’s still early in the game for him, and at this stage it’s common to make mistakes.  I guarantee that he’s still learning and improving along the way, not unlike BJJ training.  I’d rank his film making skills at blue-belt 3 stripes!

Should you buy this video?  

As long as you know what you are getting there are worse things you can spend $4.00 on.

If you want to watch it, you can buy it here: Stuart Cooper’s The Living Legend – Marcelo Garcia

There is also supposed to be a free 30 minute version of the video, but I haven’t been able to locate it yet.  I’ve tweeted Stuart a couple times but haven’t heard back.  I’ll update this if I find anything new.


I’ve been receiving many reports of people not being able to purchase or download the video.  I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’ll post an update once I hear that the link is working again.

This is the second one of Stuart’s videos where the early birds seem to have been rewarded and the folks who waited were punished with the subsequent removal of the video (the first one was the Roy Dean video).  Hopefully this won’t become a pattern with Stuart’s future works…


Here is the link to Stuart’s free 30 Minute Marcelo Garcia Documentary

UPDATE 11/25/2014:

Stuart Cooper sent out a tweet saying that the documentary is now online and I checked the links themselves and they appear to work.  So looks like everything is fine now.

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