The Real Secret to Mastering a Skill

New Year’s eve is just around the corner, making this the traditional time for drawing up plans, making resolutions, and setting your goals for the upcoming year.

This year I’m gonna do this… I’m gonna stop doing that…

Goal setting is super important and I’m all for it. I hope that you have your goals for the year clearly written out and displayed in a prominent place. But the problem is that people want have their cake and eat it too.

In the popular new age Oprah conception of the world the only thing stopping you is your imagination or – alternately – your lack of belief in yourself.

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New to Jiu Jitsu? You’ll need a lot of this…

The following guest post is written by Laurie Berenson. She comes to BJJ from a background of training in Muay Thai. I really like her attitude so I invited her to put pen to paper and share her perspective with us. She is currently studying under black belts William Stevens and Casey Van Brookhoven at Stevens Martial Arts in New Jersey, USA.

When Stephan Kesting asked if I’d consider writing a guest post for grapplearts.com from the beginner’s perspective. I immediately balked at the idea. What could I speak to as a white belt? Not much! But I do know that one of the single biggest things jiu jitsu has taught me so far is to have patience… (more…)

Clark Gracie on Training, Competing, and Growing up Gracie

This is a great interview with 2013 Pan Am BJJ Champion Clark Gracie.  He shares a ton of cool info. You can listen to, read, or download this interview in several different ways…

  1. Play the audio-only Youtube video at the bottom of this list, and/or
  2. Right click on this link and select ‘save as’ to download this mp3 file to your computer, and/or
  3. Subscribe to the Grapplearts Podcast in iTunes (RECOMMENDED, because this allows you to also listen to previous interviews and podcasts), and/or
  4. Read the transcript below. (more…)

A Cool X Guard Drill and Sweep

In recent years the X Guard has become one of the bread and butter positions in the open guard repertoire. It’s an incredibly powerful position, both in gi and no gi grappling (click here for an intro to the X Guard).

There are a ton of great techniques, sweeps, and drills that revolve around the X guard, but today I want to share a new drill with you that I recently learned from Clark Gracie in the basement of a friend’s house. (more…)

Clark Gracie Shares Some Rear Naked Choke Tips

I recently did a podcast interview with Clark Gracie at a friend’s house.  After the interview we were talking about the rear naked choke and I realised two things: A) my friend had mats, and B) I had a camera in the car.

This was a great opportunity to pick his mind some more, so we quickly set up shop and Clark shared some really great tips about setting up and amplifying the power of the rear naked choke,  (or ‘Mata leão’ in Portugese). (more…)

Fascism, the USSR, Iran, Afghanistan, El Salvador and Vampires.

Most of the time I restrain myself and keep the discussion in this blog focused on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Grappling, and MMA.

But sometimes I just have to go outside the reservation…

Like many people, I’m a huge fan of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History show. No matter what I’m involved in, whenever one of those exquisitely crafted podcasts comes out I drop everything and immerse myself in the Mongol conquests, or the origins of World War 1, or comparisons of Alexander the Great to Hitler. It’s amazing stuff.

But Dan Carlin also does a political commentary podcast called Common Sense. (more…)

Lapeloplatas, Feet on Lapel Spider Guards, & Other Gi BJJ Tricks

My friend Ostap Manastyrski and I recently shot a video about the evolving trend in the competitive Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world that involves playing with the lapels of your opponent.

People are now doing spider guard on the lapels, attacking with omoplata-style movements against the lapels, and developing all kinds of new gi-based tricks and strategies to manipulate and off balance their opponents from the bottom.

As we say in the video, we’re not sure if this is a good thing or not.  But like it or not, it IS a very real trend, so if you compete you need to be aware that it’s going on… (more…)

What Should A Blue Belt Concentrate On In Training?

by Mark Mullen

A few weeks back I penned an article called “What Do Whitebelts Need To Learn In Their 1st Year of BJJ?“. That prompted a few people to request a discussion of the next step in the BJJ journey: Bluebelt.

If we think of the whitebelt as a time of fleshing out the skeleton of the positional hierarchy and learning the mechanics of basic techniques, I would sum up the Bluebelt as a time of experimentation. (more…)

3 Ways to Safely Control an Opponent on the Ground for Self Defense.

Reverse lapeloplatas and inside-out upside-down berimbolos might be fun to train and effective for some guys in high level competition, but at its core Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is a martial art. So once in a while we need to regroup, refocus, and give some thought to what parts of the art we would use in a real self defense situation. (more…)

The 3 Steps of Berimbolo

Sometimes the best way to really understand something is to teach it. When it comes to jiu-jitsu, breaking a technique down into steps (not too many, not too few) and finding the best way to convey the underlying principles often helps clarify things in your mind.

I’ve been doing a lot of this with the berimbolo sweep recently. (more…)

3 Ways to Close the Distance in a Streetfight

BJJ is a great fitness activity and a wonderful sport. But at it’s core Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is still a martial art.

The word ‘martial’ is defined as “being related to fighting or war“. And that means you have to be ready throw down should the s**t hit the fan out there in the cold, cruel world.

Sometimes in a street confrontation you should run away, sometimes you should look for improvised weapons, sometimes you should punch and kick, and sometimes your best option is to grapple. (more…)

What Do White Belts Need to Learn in Their 1st Year of BJJ?

by guest author Mark Mullen

I’m currently in Rio de Janeiro doing a little training in BJJ. While here I have met a number of white belts at the Connection Rio BJJ hostel. Sitting around the pool or over acai after training, inevitably the topic of conversation turns to BJJ and the struggles of the white belts trying to find their way in the art suave.

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On Starting a Conditioning Program for BJJ & Submission Grappling

There are lots of reasons to start doing a conditioning program if you’re training in BJJ or submission grappling. The most important (yet often overlooked) benefit is to injury proof your body and allow you to train longer, harder, and more often.  Other benefits can include increased strength, improved muscular endurance, elevated aerobic and anaerobic capacities, and more explosiveness, all of which will only improve your grappling game. (more…)

A Reverse de la Riva Guard Tutorial

The de la Riva guard is an open guard position in which you entangle one of your opponent’s legs with your own leg.  It was popularised years ago by Ricardo de la Riva, and has since become a staple of gi and no gi jiu-jitsu.

But a related position, the Reverse de la Riva guard, is still a mystery to many grapplers… (more…)

How to NOT Clog Up Your Phone with My Instructional Apps

This week we’ve been releasing a series of apps featuring BJJ black belt Brandon ‘Wolverine’ Mullins at a rate of one per day.

(A lot of the apps have also been getting the coveted four and five star ratings in both Google Play and iTunes, which is awesome. Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to rate them!!)

But not everyone’s happy… (more…)

Five Reasons to Grapple in a Streetfight

A lot of self proclaimed self defence experts will emphatically and categorically tell you to “never, ever go to the ground in a streetfight.”  But no single strategy works in every situation, and anyone telling you to always do something, or never do something, is automatically wrong.

The truth is that you may well be forced to use your grappling skills in a self defense context. (more…)

Home Drilling for BJJ Skill Development

I often get questions from BJJ and submission grappling practitioners about whether they can benefit from doing additional drills at home.  Often the people asking these questions are either extremely time-constrained and can’t make it to the class as often as they would like.  Or they are just very serious students of the art and want to improve as fast as humanly possible.

My answer is that there ARE a lot of solo movement drills in BJJ.  And yes, drilling can sometimes be very, very helpful.   (more…)

The Android BJJ Apps Are Finally Here!

The next generation of instructional Android apps have finally arrived!

As evidenced by the fact that I slept about 2 hours last night, and now I’m in front of my computer AGAIN, it’s taken a TON of development and testing to get here…

But today we’re releasing the first Android app in the ‘How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent’ series with myself and black belt world champion Emily Kwok.

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Question: My Mind Goes Blank During Sparring...

—————————— QUESTION ——————————

Hi Stephan,

First of all, I want to thank you for creating your instructional apps and having these frequent tips/newsletters.   They have really helped me to get started in BJJ.  Even though I have been signed up to receive your emails for a while now I have only just begun my training.   (more…)

Jiu-Jitsu for the Zombie Apocalypse

I’ve just put the most important video I’ve ever shot onto Youtube: Jiu-Jitsu for the Zombie Apocalypse.

A lot of people will tell you that jiu-jitsu will be useless when the Zombie Apocalypse hits.  But those people have an agenda: usually they’re trying to sell you flamethrowers, or have stocks in the big arms companies. (more…)

At the bottom of this post is a Youtube video I just created to show the easiest way to do the Berimbolo.

Now if you’re a Berimbolo aficionado then you’ve probably already scrolled down. But maybe you’re on the fence about this move. Or maybe you don’t even know what it is and why you should care about it.

Well, give me a minute to put it into context for you… (more…)

The Omoplata vs the Marceloplata vs the Baratoplata

Here’s a 12 minute tutorial I just put out breaking down two really cool variations of the Omoplata armlock which is one of my all-time favourite techniques.

The first variation is called the ‘Marceloplata’ – it’s named after superstar grappler Marcelo Garcia who popularised this technique.  The Marceloplata is a great option to use when you’ve almost finalised a regular Omoplata but your opponent has managed to stall your attack by locking down one of your legs.

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