Author Archives: Stephan Kesting
I always say that this jiu-jitsu stuff is a marathon, not a sprint.
Partially this is because it takes time to remodel your body so that it can do the things you want it to do. It’s also because you need to find and incorporate hundreds of little tricks, tweaks and techniques that work with your body and your ever-evolving style on the mats.
To find those training methods, tweaks and techniques takes research, which is made much easier by the internet!
In the spirit of sharing some of the new BJJ techniques and body hacks that I’m personally exploring right now, here’s what’s on my reading list this weekend…
A Comparison of Kettlebell Styles: I’ve played around with kettle bells a bit, and found that they’re a very useful tool. For example, the basic kettlebell swing gives you many of the benefits of Olympic lifting with a much lower risk of injury. But there’s so much conflicting and contradictory advice about how to do even the most basic Kettlebell movements that it’s hard to know what correct technique looks like. The article linked to above helps explain the different schools of thought behind KB swings and snatches.
The Berimbolo Sweep in BJJ: At 6’2″ and 215 lbs I don’t really have the classic body type for all that crazy-upside-down-spinning-inverted-guard stuff. That being said it’s hard to ignore the effectiveness of Berimbolo sweep (a crazy-upside-down-spinning-inverted-guard move) in sport BJJ.
I’ve practiced it only a few times and haven’t swept anyone with it yet in sparring. But doing some reps of the Berimbolo gave me the confidence to start using a similar-but-different inverting spinning move to stop my training partners from passing my guard. Maybe it IS possible to teach an old dog new tricks…
Keenan Cornelius Sneak Previews: Keenan and his team just keep on giving away more previews from their upcoming DVD set. Earlier this week I learned a really cool omoplata finish from them that I hadn’t seen before. They ask for your email address, but I was happy to give it because I figured a) it was a good way to find out about new preview clips and b), if I didn’t like what they sent me, I would just click on the unsubscribe link which is on every email. Anyway, I’m very interested to see what techniques they release next…
Cardio for 3 Minutes a Week??!? Some research from McMaster University suggests that just a few minutes of all-out exercise give you the same benefits as spending hours on the stair master or treadmill. I’m dubious, but I’m going to test it on myself. I’ll do a month of these 30 second intervals and then see how I perform on my gold standard cardio workout (a horrendous 40 to 60 minute climb up Grouse Mountain on the North Shore of Vancouver). Other than getting shot off a treadmill or going into cardiac arrest what’s the worst that can happen?
The fifty-fifty guard is a strange creature. In it you and your opponent face each other in the exact same position with your legs intertwined.
On the one hand there’s no doubt that it’s a really powerful sweeping position for whoever’s on bottom.
But on the other hand it has a reputation as a really horrible way to stall. (more…)
Grinding away on your inner thighs is the favourite (and often only) closed guard breaking strategy of meathead grapplers everywhere.
I don’t know who originally came up with this bush league, Dim Mak wanna be, pressure point bull**** strategy, but for some reason you run into ‘grinders’ at almost every club.
Like most pain compliance techniques the elbow grind is something that works semi-OK in sparring, but almost never works in competition (more…)
I just watched a really cool documentary called Jiro Dreams of Sushi (available on Netflix, iTunes, etc.). This 2011 film paints a fascinating portrait of Jiro Ono, an 85 year old master chef who’s been making sushi for 75 years.
Jiro – the protagonist – is a single-minded perfectionist workaholic who hates national holidays because they keep him away from his obsession, which is working on creating the perfect sushi experience for his customers. (more…)
Today I’m going to share two of my favourite (and very powerful) X guard sweeps with you. Plus I’ll show you how put them together so that it looks like you have amazing timing without actually having to increase your reaction speed one iota.
Let’s first talk about what makes two techniques work well together in general. (more…)
I know, I know, I KNOW!
I go on and on about how tapping out is no big deal, and how you can get injured if you let ego get in the way, and how everybody gets caught from time to time…
But there I was, leaping all over the place to escape a submission, becoming increasingly desperate as the noose tightened around my neck, just because the whole thing seemed so cheesy. (more…)
Keenan Cornelius is a BJJ phenomenon. Known for his exciting guardwork and movement-oriented game, he won double gold medals in four of the biggest BJJ tournament in the world as a purple belt, which is a HUGE accomplishment. Here’s my recent interview with Keenan
Some leglocks are simple, straight-ahead, super-effective submissions that should be in every grappler’s arsenal.
Other leglock attacks, by contrast, are super-complicated multi-step techniques. And once you actually manoeuvre everybody into place you’re left with something that resembles an octopus orgy: arms, legs, and other body parts tangled together in a giant Gordian knot. (more…)
The half guard is one of my favorite guard positions. And here are three of my favorite half guard sweeps and attacks!
Not only is each of these moves a high percentage technique in its own right, but when you put them together they create a powerful one-two-three combination that will serve you well in the half guard for the rest of your grappling career. (more…)
This article and video are about how to train and continue to make progress in BJJ when you’re dealing with an arm injury.
Now I hope that you go through your entire BJJ career without ever suffering a single injury. But this is a contact sport, and therefore you’re probably going to get a little banged up from time to time. (more…)
Kesa Gatame is one of the most under-utilized positions in BJJ. Jiu-jitsu people tend to ignore this position but generations of judo players and wrestlers have proved that Kesa Gatame IS a powerful and effective way to pin someone. And – even worse for someone caught in it – Kesa Gatame is also a great entry into some very effective armlocks, leglocks, neck cranks and diaphragm chokes. (more…)
What is the Spider Guard?
The Spider Guard is a form of Open Guard where you grip your opponent’s wrists or sleeves and have at least one foot controlling at least one of his arms. Typically the sole of your foot will be placed against his biceps, or your leg will spiral around his elbow with your toes hiding underneath his upper arm.
The Butterfly Guard is one of my very favorite positions these days.
Regardless of whether you’re rolling with or without the gi, the Butterfly Guard keeps your opponent’s weight off of you, it gives you unparalleled mobility on the bottom, and it allows you to unleash blistering combinations of some of the most powerful sweeps and reversals in all of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. (more…)
The Half Guard is a funny position.
Once upon a time it was a position of last resort. Something that you would try to achieve if your opponent was passing your guard. A last-ditch attempt to stop him from getting to a truly dominant position.
My, how things have changed in the last 20 years…
Are you confused about the definition of the Open Guard? You are NOT alone. In fact, when I started BJJ someone tried to explain the different variations of the Open Guard to me and I think his explanation left me more confused than I had been originally.
So, what is the Open Guard? (more…)
Here’s a short 1:30 minute video breakdown of me explaining the basics of the closed guard.
And just to keep things interesting I also throw in my single best tip about how to maintain the closed guard, shut down your opponent’s guard pass attempts and put you in a position to successfully launch your own attacks. (more…)
What’s the best submission in BJJ? Wow, that’s a tough question! And the first problem is trying to define what we mean by the word ‘best’…
Before we get into semantics and statistics let’s start by agreeing that there are a million different submissions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Submission Grappling, and that not all of these techniques were were created equal. (more…)
Defending and escaping the Kimura when you’re on the bottom of side control is always difficult. There are several different reason for this…
First of all, the figure four grip used in the Kimura is very powerful control. It’s a natural handle that your opponent can use to manipulate your entire body, both in gi or no gi. And once your opponent has secured this grip it’s a real pain to get out of this submission. (more…)
I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s tip about escaping the armbar from guard. Today I want to continue exploring how to get out of submissions and share my two best triangle choke escapes with you.
I’ve experimented with lots of different triangle escapes. Unfortunately I’ve found that many commonly-taught techniques (more…)
If you’ve been grappling for any length of time then you know that anytime you’re in the closed guard you’ve got to watch out for the armbar from guard. It’s one of the most common and highest percentage submissions in all of BJJ, submission grappling and MMA.
So if we’re going to be running into a technique like the armbar from guard this frequently then we HAVE to have some good answers for it, or else we’ll be tapping out all the time! (more…)
One of my newsletter readers recently had an interesting question for me:
Q: “Hi Stephan, I have this training partner with a huge neck who is incredibly resistant to chokes. Everybody in class has problems choking him. The problem is that my favorite submission is the triangle choke – what’s a simple way to finish the choke on someone like that? Thanks – Dave from England.” (more…)
A few years ago I released the Roadmap for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructional package.
This is a multi-component product that focuses on the strategies, tactics, techniques and training methods of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It’s basically a quick start guide for how to get good on the ground as fast as possible. (more…)