Author Archives: Stephan Kesting
I recently worked with a female friend to teach her a little bit about jiu-jitsu for self defense.
Obviously I believe that jiu-jitsu is super important for self defense in general, but when it comes to women who want to defend themselves, well, it’s completely indispensable. We can argue all day about what percentage of real fights end up on the ground (like the Gracies I believe it’s very high), but when you’re talking about sexual assault going to the ground is almost inevitable.
Therefore if you’re a woman who wants to be a hardened target, you need to have some high quality training in, and understanding of, the ground game. (more…)
If you grapple then you have to use the omoplata. After all, it’s one of the ‘big five’ attacks from the guard (armbar, kimura, triangle, guillotine and omoplata).
Much of the time the omoplata ends up functioning as a sweep – your opponent rolls out of it to escape, you follow him, and get to the top. That’s not a problem – you’re now on top after all – but wouldn’t it have been nice to get the submission instead?
Let me introduce you to a variation of the omoplata called ‘The Rack’. (more…)
This is the easiest move in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
It’s a move that you can learn today and use tomorrow (especially if you’ve been drilling your triangle choke details that we covered in another recent blog post).
Hint: it’s from the Double Biceps Spider Guard.
Check out the video below – Elliott reminds me of a trapdoor spider exploding out of it’s lair when he slams it on. Then give the move a try and let me know what you think in the comments below! (more…)
Today’s video clip is about a rarely-discussed but absolutely essential aspect of the Spider Guard.
It’s the secret sauce of the Spider Guard. And it comes down to pressure…
Pressure is one of those things that can be hard to see if you don’t know what you’re looking for. But there’s no mistaking pressure when you feel it! (more…)
Some techniques just require a bit more tweaking than others…
For example, when I was a whitebelt the armbar was fairly easy to learn. The triangle choke, on the other hand, was relatively easy to apply, but hard to finish, (which was very frustrating).
It took a lot of experimentation, coaching and adjusting before I was able to successfully choke out even cooperating, non-resisting partners with the triangle. (more…)
After almost 6 months of planning, filming and editing Spider Guard Masterclass is now ready for release!
I’m biased of course, but I think that this is an absolutely amazing project. It’s an A to Z reference guide for the Spider Guard, which is arguably the most dominant form of open guard in modern BJJ.
Checking out this instructional is also risk free: if you don’t absolutely love it, then I’ll buy it back from you anytime in the first year!
OK, this is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen…
I recently did an interview with Elliott Bayev on how to build BJJ gameplans. While we were talking Elliott dropped some hints about the Spider Guard project that we’ve been working on together…
One of the things that Elliott did for this project was to create an in-depth mindmap showing his entire Spider Guard gameplan. And you can get that gameplan completely for free right now. (more…)
Here’s a really cool video interview I did with my friend, BJJ blackbelt, renowned coach, and fierce competitor Elliott Bayev.
This interview is special because we break down the steps of building a BJJ gameplan. We go right from the basic BJJ self defense gameplan, and build up to the intricate strategies used by world class competitors.
There are tons of immediately useful takeaways here.
Along the way we also discuss self defense, the role of competition, and the evolution of new techniques and positions in BJJ.
This should really help you formulate your own gameplans.
What Bruce Lee and Malcolm Gladwell Taught Me About Mushin (or the Art of No-Mind and Executing the Perfect Technique),
Bruce Lee and Malcom Gladwell agree with Mark Mullen. Sometimes things just happen too quickly to use conscious thought.
Sometimes you just need to forget about thought and simply react to the situation. (more…)
Here’s a great workout for you: the Combat Challenge Sprint workout.
This is the same sprint training protocol used by many of the best competitors in the Firefighter Combat Challenge, a sport that focuses on a viciously difficult obstacle course in which firefighters push themselves to their limits simulating foreground activities. This worker was a key component of my friend Jamie McGarva’s preparation for setting a two new world record in 2012, and then leading his team to victory at the World Championships in 2013.
And I think it’s very relevant to the energetic demands of BJJ as well.
The first time I tried the Combat Challenge Sprint Workout I must have gone just a bit too hard, because halfway through I bolted from the gym, ran to the bathroom, and threw up in the toilet. (more…)
I often hear from people distraught about some area of their jiu-jitsu lagging behind.
It might be their sweeps from the closed guard, their submissions from side mount, their escapes from rear mount, or their butterfly guard passes, but in that that one specific area they’re just not as good at as they should be.
Here’s the thing though: there will ALWAYS be areas where you are lagging behind! (more…)
Here’s something that some of you will love, and some of you will hate…
No Affliction-style skulls, pitbulls, grim reapers or upside-down crosses in this design, sorry!
We did a small test run of this design, and the few lucky people who got their hands on one of them loved it. (more…)
I often get asked about the best kind of conditioning for BJJ and MMA.
People want to know what’s better: running vs swimming, circuit training vs powerlifting, crossfit vs bodybuilding, sprints vs extended cardio, kettlebells vs dumbbells, bodyweight exercises vs barbells..
Having done quite a bit of strength and conditioning over the last 20 years I actually do have some definite opinions about these topics. But the thing is that my opinions apply only to me.
You have to figure out what works for you by trial and error. (more…)
When BJJ world champion Brandon Mullins and I started talking about doing a second instructional set, he was adamant about including a section focusing on the advanced applications of fundamental movements.
I was initially dubious. I didn’t think that most people would be interested in this. But the more we talked about it, and especially when he started showing me what he wanted to cover, I became a convert.
You see, there are movements people already know and use, but they just don’t know how to use them to their full potential. (more…)
Some people are under the mistaken impression that you can only defend or sweep from the Half Guard. But it’s a big mistake to ignore the powerful submission attacks that present themselves from that position!
One of the most powerful, most effective, and most popular attacks from the Half Guard is the Triangle Choke. You see this in high level competition all the time, both with and without the gi.
But you can’t just slap the triangle choke on from Half Guard without any preparation. You have to set it up first.
Jiu-jitsu doesn’t always need to be complicated. In fact, sometimes the best solution is also the simplest, most direct solution.
Consider a situation where your opponent is in your guard but is refusing to engage you in any meaningful way. Maybe he’s ahead on points and is trying to coast for the rest of the match, or maybe he just wants the satisfaction of being able to say that you didn’t catch him in anything.
Anyway, in this situation he’s sitting back on his heels and defensively gripfighting like crazy any time you try to lay hands on him. (more…)
This is one of the sneakiest, slickest submission attacks I have ever seen.
The first time I saw this technique was when BJJ world champion Brandon ‘Wolverine’ Mullins used it at the IBJJF European Championships in 2013.
At first I just didn’t understand what I had seen. One minute his opponent was in the X Guard, and the next he was tapping out from a super-tight triangle choke. I had to watch it a bunch of times to even begin to figure out what had happened. (more…)
It’s called ‘rolling’ for a reason: if you’re doing BJJ then you’re going to be somersaulting all over the place. And there are three types of rolls that you encounter all the time on the mats:
- The forward roll,
- The backwards roll
- The side roll
In the video below BJJ world champion Brandon ‘Wolverine’ Mullins shows how you can use the third movement – the side roll – to defend against a very common and otherwise difficult-to-deal-with style of guard pass. (more…)
Speed kills! When it comes to blowing through your opponent’s defenses there’s nothing like being just a little bit faster than him. That way you’re always a step or two ahead, and he never has the chance to catch up.
But how exactly do you do this?
Well, have you ever heard of something called Hick’s Law? It’s an idea that comes from academic research, and has been applied to areas as diverse as computer interface design and analysing online dating. But it’s also super-relevant to jiu-jitsu! (more…)
I was passing through the downtown core of a major North American city a few years ago. I had 40 minutes to kill, so I went for a walk and quickly came across a martial arts club I had heard about but never set foot in. So into the club I went, to check it out and introduce myself.
I was immediately struck by two contrasting impressions…
The first thing I noticed were the inspirational posters and sayings painted all over the walls. (more…)
This is an article by longtime Grapplearts contributor and BJJ Black Belt Mark Mullen.
A question I always ask when I discuss jiu-jitsu with senior black belts is, “In developing your game is it better to develop your strengths, or to focus on weaknesses in order to correct them?”
The simplest form of this question is about developing your top game vs your bottom game in BJJ. (more…)
If you’ve trained BJJ for any length of time then you’ve probably come to the conclusion that mastering this art is more of a marathon than a short sprint.
And you’re right!
There’s a LOT to learn and a LOT to get good at in this sport. That’s why a black belt takes so bloody long! (more…)
I’ve got a super cool, super informative interview for you today!
This is the first time in Grapplearts history that I’ve interviewed a person for a second time. But boy, did my friend, BJJ black belt, and fierce competitor Brandon ‘Wolverine’ Mullins ever deliver! (click here for the first interview).
(Brandon and I originally worked together to create the highly acclaimed instructional How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent Volume 2.)
In today’s interview Brandon and I discuss a TON of stuff, including,
- Life and death on the seminar circuit,
- What changes you need to make to your guard to transition from gi to no-gi,
- How to connect moves together to make a smooth and fluid game,
- The evolution of jiu-jitsu, including the new positions and strategies that are continuously changing the sport,
- Why you always need to pushing to improve your position even when you’re ahead on points. (more…)
Getting picked up and slammed when you’ve got your opponent in the closed guard is one of the most dangerous things that can happen to you in grappling.
It’s definitely a legitimate technique for big and strong guys to use. And in MMA and self defense slamming an opponent is one of the best ways to open the guard, or to escape a tight triangle choke.
Getting power-bombed and then and having your opponent’s weight land on you always hurts. Especially if your opponent is bigger than you are, which is usually the case if he can lift you up. (more…)
There’s a useful phrase that my friend and champion competitor Brandon ‘Wolverine’ Mullins uses all the time…
“Correct the position.”
Let’s say you launch your opponent through the air with an absolutely perfect butterfly guard sweep. He lands flat on his back, and you race to the top and get to sidemount. (more…)