Author Archives: Stephan Kesting
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…)
In life it’s funny what ends up making a lasting impression on you. An offhand comment can stick with you for years and years, and have an effect way beyond anything the original person intended.
There’s a phrase like that that pops up in my mind often when I’m thinking about BJJ. But it originated in a very different place.
In fact this comment got stuck in my brain more than 20 years ago when I was taking a biochemistry class at McGill University of all places… (more…)
When it comes to passing the guard you basically have two options: pass with speed, or pass with pressure.
Speed-based guard passes typically rely on creating some distance between you and your opponent, getting some kind of control on his feet or legs, and then blasting your way past your legs with some quickly manoeuvring. The ‘Toreando’ pass and its variations would be classic examples of speed-based passing.
In pressure-based passing you incrementally gain control over more and more of your opponent’s body until you slowly edge your way past his guard. (more…)
An article by Mark Mullen
Most students of Brazilian jiu-jitsu are aware that the origins of modern day BJJ came from Japanese judoka Mitsuyo Maeda who was one of the earliest of Jigoro Kano’s members at the Kodokan.
Since those early days, Brazilian jiu-jitsu has evolved significantly and now Olympic style judo and sport BJJ have diverged into their own sports.
The rules governing IBJJF competition differ from those of Olympic judo requiring different strategies by the competitors and consequently a different emphasis on techniques. (more…)
Here’s something brand new that I’ve been working on for a whole year. It’s available right now and I think you’re really going to like it!!
How would you like a top-to-bottom game plan for the closed guard position?
What about a complete roadmap for the Open Guard?
And while we’re at it, would a game plan for the modern Half Guard help you out? (more…)
I once attended a seminar taught by a big name in BJJ (don’t ask me who – my lips are sealed!).
It was in a medium-sized town, but for whatever reason, attendance was terrible. There were only about 8 people there, myself included.
And it didn’t take very long to figure out that that at least six of the eight attendees were brand new beginners. We’re talking about never-been-taught-the-armbar-from-the-guard beginners….
The very first guard pass I learned was the stacking guard pass (also known as the smashing guard pass or sometimes the ‘over under’ pass).
Initially I was doing this pass all wrong, and I can’t even begin to count how many times I got triangle choked trying it. But eventually I learned a few tweaks that made it much harder for my opponents to apply the triangle choke, and now it’s one of my bread and butter guard passes. (more…)
One of single biggest errors you can make when you’re practising a martial art is to assume that everybody else practices that same martial art.
Let me explain that…
Boxers spend 99.9% of their time learning how to fight other boxers. Wrestlers train to attack with, and defend against, wrestling techniques. (more…)
Today we’re going to look at and learn about one of the most fundamental movements in all of BJJ. It’s the “technical standup,” and make sure that you’re doing it correctly.
The technical standup is used ALL the time in BJJ, submission grappling and MMA.
This exact move can get you out of trouble in scrambles, prevent guard passes, and finish sweeps for you, but first and foremost the technical standup allows you to get back to your feet in a real fight without getting your teeth knocked out… (more…)
If you’ve been reading my emails and training in grappling then, by this point, you’re going to be quite familiar with the guard.
In some ways it’s the iconic BJJ position.
But do you know WHY it’s such an integral part of BJJ? Why do we focus on this position so much? And why would we ever want to be lying on our backs on the pavement in a streetfight? (more…)
The first time I ever saw the Mount position was during a schoolyard fight in grade one. One kid pushed the other kid to the ground, climbed on top, sat on his chest in the classic bully position, and then absolutely dominated the fight. He punched and slapped and taunted the other kid who was completely unable to do anything about it until the fight was broken up by the teachers.
The kid on the bottom wasn’t too badly hurt in the end, but only because it’s hard for grade 1 punches to do much actual damage.
The take-home lesson was clear though: he who maintains the Mount wins! (more…)
This might be a bit controversial but BJJ IS A MARTIAL ART!
That means it’s a fighting method, used for stopping (and possibly hurting) people who are intent on doing you serious harm.
Sure, it’s also a fantastic sport, a fitness method, and a way to challenge yourself. I enjoy it for all those aspects too. But being able to take care of business in the street comes first. (more…)
Passing the guard and establishing a stable position is maybe the single hardest thing to do in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
You can know a ton of guard passing techniques, but what if you’re in the Closed Guard and can’t start your pass because your opponent absolutely refuses to open up his legs. He just keeps you in his guard with his ankles crossed and wears you down with his wickedly strong legs, relentless attacks, and incredible determination to never-ever uncross his ankles. (more…)