Author Archives: Stephan Kesting

Kimura Armlock Grips Explained!

The Kimura, much like any other technique, is usually taught as a series of steps.

First do this…  Then move your hand here… Then adjust your body this way… Then finish by doing this other thing.

It can be a lot to remember, but it’s always easier to remember all the steps and adjustments if you understand WHY you’re doing them.

When I first learned about the Kimura armlock attack I got lots of contradictory, conflicting advice about applying this submission.  This was most notable when it came to the grip for the Kimura: some people told me that I absolutely had to control my opponent’s wrist with all 5 fingers together, but other people said it was OK to grab with your fingers on the opposite side of the wrist from your thumb.
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37 Powerful BJJ Submissions for Grapplers

Have you ever wondered what the most popular and powerful BJJ submissions in BJJ are?  Here’s our list of the top 37 submissions taught in BJJ academies all over the world.

WARNING: not all of these techniques are legal in IBJJF competition, or allowed at all schools.  But it’s still better to be familiar with these illegal techniques just in case someone tries to use them on you. And many of these illegal BJJ moves still have a ton of validity for MMA applications or self defense situations, so they are well worth learning! (more…)

A Sneaky Rolling Judo Choke!

In BJJ it’s often what you don’t see coming that kills you. Which is why it’s important to have a couple of surprise attacks in your arsenal.

Today’s video is from the Non-Stop Jiu-Jitsu instructional set that I did with BJJ world champion Brandon Mullins. It’s a rolling entry from Judo that takes you directly into one of the most powerful chokes in the entire jiu-jitsu repertoire: the Bow and Arrow choke.  It’s an example of the borders between Judo and jiu-jitsu becoming very fuzzy…  (more…)

World Championship Guard Passing with Leandro Lo

In BJJ it’s what you don’t know that hurts you. If you get caught in a position that you don’t have an answer to, that you don’t understand, then life on the mat just got exponentially more difficult.

This problem is most pronounced for the guard. It can be really difficult to keep up with the changing technology. One year it’s the X Guard, taking the world by storm, then it’s the 50/50 guard, and then it’s the worm guard…

You don’t necessarily need to add each of these new guard positions to your own personal repertoire, but you DO need to know how to shut them down. You need good answers for each of these positions. (more…)

BJJ Beginner Tips Interview and Podcast

In this Grapplearts interview I talk to BJJ Black Belt Ritchie Yip, focusing on tips that BJJ beginners need to know.  But sometimes the conversation goes a little off track!

You can follow/consume/download/watch this awesome and informative interview several different ways…

  1. You can watch the Youtube video below
  2. You can download the mp3 file by right clicking here and selecting ‘Save As’
  3. You can subscribe to the Grapplearts Radio Podcast in iTunes by clicking here (more…)

The Three Ways to Escape ANY Submission...

Jiu-jitsu has hundreds of submissions including chokes, cranks, armlocks, wristlocks, kneebars, footlocks, crushes, and many other ways to make people tap out.

But if you’re caught in a submission – any submission – there are only three ways to get out.  This relates to the timing of the defense: before, during or after.

Let’s go through them, one by one… (more…)

Three and a Half Techniques to Escape from a Tight Closed Guard Overhook

Just the other day I shared four counters to a pesky deep cross-collar grip from closed guard.

Well, the cross-collar grip isn’t the only way your opponent might try to destroy your posture…

There’s another posture-breaking grip that can be just as bad, and unlike the cross-collar this one can be used in BJJ, MMA and submission grappling.  Gi and no gi.   (more…)

How to Counter the Cross Lapel Grip from Closed Guard

Your opponent sneaking his hand deep on your lapel is always a bad situation.

Once he has this grip on you from his closed guard he can use it to break your posture forward, which kills your ability to pass the guard and is very tiring to fight against…

…or he can use it to attack you with cross-collar chokes (which have ended a LOT of matches)…

…or he uses your frantic reactions the threat of the grip to set up any number of armlocks, sweeps and other attacks. (more…)

The Three Most Important Pull-Up Variations for BJJ (Plus 16 Additional Variations)

There’s a ton of pulling in BJJ.

Regardless of whether you’re finishing an X choke, pulling your arm out of an almost-applied armbar, or breaking someone’s posture from guard, it’s all made a lot easier if you have a decent grip and good pulling power

Which makes pull-ups one of the most important exercises you can do for your jiu-jitsu.

But there are a lot of variations of the pull-up, and sometimes people are confused as to which variation they should do. (more…)

Top Secret Sentry Removal Technique

If you’re new to the martial arts then you might not get the humour of this, but believe me, there are many jackasses out there with their own versions of this information. The difference is that their tongues aren’t firmly planted in the side of their cheeks.

Anyway, this particular technique was far too deadly to put into Non-Stop Jiu-Jitsu – putting such information into the wrong hands would be completely irresponsible.

So we put it onto Youtube instead… (more…)

How to Experience Flow for the First Time in BJJ

Advanced BJJ players often talk about ‘flow’ – the ability to effortlessly adapt to changing situations and flow around resistance you might run into.  But flow isn’t a state that you suddenly arrive at in BJJ.

Instead, as you progress in the art, you start getting little glimpses of it, hints of how things might hook together, and brief moments when things work out effortlessly.

Of course, when you’re first starting out in BJJ the first couple of months are usually a complete confusing mess.

Nothing makes sense: you get squished, dominated and submitted.  And, what’s worse, is that most of the time you don’t even have the vocabulary to describe what’s happening to you. (more…)

9 Rules for BJJ Self Defense

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…)

A Super-Powerful Omoplata Finish

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…)

The Key to Dominating from the Spider Guard

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…)

How to Adjust Your Triangle for Maximum Tightness and Effectiveness

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…)

Spider Guard Masterclass is Now Live

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!

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The Complete Spider Guard Gameplan Mindmap

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…)

How to Build a BJJ Gameplan

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.

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How to React Without Thinking

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…)

The Combat Challenge Sprint Workout

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…)

Don't Panic, This is Normal!

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…)