Grapplearts Articles

Bruce Lee

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.This is... Read article

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... Read article

working with Elliott on the Spider Guard

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... Read article

Grappling Machine T Shirt Design

Here's something that some of you will love, and some of you will hate... It's a brand new limited edition steampunk-style Grapplearts T-shirt: the 'Grappling Machine' design. No Affliction-style skulls, pitbulls, grim reapers or upside-down crosses in this design, sorry! We did a small test run... Read article

Treadmill sprints

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... Read article

How to recover guard from the turtle position

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... Read article

A high percentage triangle choke attack from half guard. From the Non-Stop Jiu-Jitsu instructional set

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... Read article

A Super Fast BJJ Guard Sweep. From the Butt Double Leg - from Non-Stop Jiu-Jitsu instructional set

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... Read article

X guard to triangle choke, from Non-Stop Jiu-Jitsu

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... Read article

Guard Pass Prevention - From Non-Stop Jiu-Jitsu instructional set

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'... Read article

a powerful de la riva guard sweep. From 'Non-Stop Jiu-Jitsu' with Brandon Mullins and Stephan Kesting

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... Read article

BJJ training

Funny story... 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... Read article

BJJ private lesson with Gordo

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... Read article

Stephan-in-BJJ-Gi

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! The fact that it takes so long is part of the reason why... Read article

Brandon Mullins at Worlds

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!  Read article

How not to get slammed

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. ... Read article

Brandon Mullins Sparring

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... Read article

marcus soares bjj team

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... Read article

Rodolfo Vieira Pressure Guard Pass

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... Read article

Judo for BJJ

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... Read article

BJJ-Roadmap-app-for-iPhone-iPad-Android-Kindle

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... Read article

Stephan teaching BJJ

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.... Read article

Guard Pass Triangle Choke

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... Read article

BJJ Headlock Defense

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. And Wing Chun kung fu... Read article

BJJ Self Defense - The Technical Standup

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... Read article

The Street Guard - BJJ Self Defense

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... Read article

Escaping the Mount in Self Defense

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... Read article

BJJ Self Defense

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... Read article

Closed Guard Break

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... Read article

Philip Gelinas

Anyone in my age group will understand how it came to be that the first martial art I fell in love was ninjutsu. Ninjas were everywhere those days, and what could be better than sneaking around wearing black, throwing smoke bombs, and building booby traps? Of course I too was determined to become a ninja, but first I needed the gear.  I asked,... Read article

Stephan Teaching a Jiu-Jitsu seminar

I know I've been lucky, but most of my martial arts instructors have encouraged questions. For example, my BJJ coach, Marcus Soares, is known for his killer conditioning sessions ('warmups,' he calls them...). But right after putting his class through hell he always... Read article

Adam Singer 7

Stephan: I’m here today with my friend, Adam Singer, who runs The HardCore Gym in Athens, Georgia.  He is probably best known for being Forrest Griffin’s MMA coach during the formative years of Forrest’s career. He’s also a jiu-jitsu black belt and has trained tons of fighters. I’m really looking forward to picking his brain... Read article

Omoplata from spider guard

The omoplata armlock is one of the heavy hitters in the jiu-jitsu arsenal. It's a very effective submission in its own right, but it also sets up many other submissions and can be used to sweep an opponent. Here's a 3 1/2 minute video breakdown of a high percentage omoplata entry from Spider... Read article

Stephan Teaching a Jiu-Jitsu seminar

Let's say that you want to add a new technique - any technique - to your game. With new techniques there's always a ton of trial and error, struggle and effort, discouragement and tough times before it starts working reliably for you. But here's the thing: no matter what area of jiu-jitsu or submission grappling you're working on, I guarantee... Read article

X Guard Sweep

The X Guard is a hybrid open guard / half guard position, first popularized by Marcelo Garcia. There are a million sweeps, finishes, and follow-ups from the X Guard. Everything from kneebars and omoplatas, to fancy upside-down backwards flipping sweeps, to techniques that take you directly to rear mount. But I don't suggest starting with any of these... Read article

how to counter the reverse de la Riva Guard

Regardless of whether you want to add this modern BJJ inverted spinning stuff to your own personal repertoire or not, you should still know how to counter this position. But even if you don't use the Reverse de la Riva Guard yourself, the chances are still good that you'll eventually run into someone who does. And when that happens hopefully you have an... Read article

Stephan-Teaching

It's easy to get sidetracked in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  Whether it's the Worm Guard, the Berimbolo attack or some crazy submission, there's always the temptation to train the latest, greatest technique... Read article

dirty boxing

This is a video from the archives that I shot with my friend and training partner at Infighting MMA in downtown Vancouver. Infighting has since moved into a much nicer, larger facility, but the information in this video is still 100% valid. It's all about the 'dirty boxing' techniques that are technically illegal in... Read article

Ritchie Yip BJJ Black Belt

My friend Ritchie Yip really nails it in this video. Ultimately it's not about winning tournaments, triangle choking a mugger in an alley, or being king of the dojo. It's about developing the strength, the fortitude and - dare I say it - character that will serve you for the rest of your whole life in any field of endeavour.  Read article

submission grappling competition

When people start grappling they often feel like wimps. Warmups are difficult, it's hard to breath on the bottom, submissions are everywhere, your face gets smushed by your opponents, etc. At times this sport is just plain uncomfortable! Well I want to reassure you that being able to deal with this is really NOT about being born... Read article

How to Tighten the Closed Guard Armbar

Chances are that the armbar from guard is one of the first techniques you ever learned in BJJ. In fact the closed guard armbar is one of those fundamental techniques that results in submissions every day at every BJJ school in the world (in fact it's the fifth most popular submission... Read article

Transitioning from half guard to closed guard

The half guard is a sophisticated tool in the grappler's toolbox that can be used to defend, sweep your opponents, or submit them outright. But just because you've got a hammer doesn't make the whole world a nail. And that means that you can't rely on any one guard position as the be-all-and-end-all. Even if you're a half guard wizard you'll still end... Read article

Head and Arm Choke

The Head and Arm choke is a super-powerful submission that works with and without the gi, with and without strikes, in BJJ, Judo, Submission Grappling and Judo. It's ended a lot of matches and even put a few people to sleep. The Head and Arm choke comes from Judo (where it's known as Kata Gatame) and if you grapple then it's a technique that you need... Read article

Casa Loma

So I'm touring Casa Loma recently, the famous castle in downtown Toronto and the largest private residence ever constructed in Canada. Just the usual touristic wandering of the halls, climbing the turrets, and exploring the never-ending parade of lavishly decorated rooms. All of a sudden I heard something beautiful drifting through the marble and... Read article

how to pass the worm guard by Rodolfo Viera

One of the big trends in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu recently has been the increasing sophistication of lapel-based guard control and sweeps. In this style of game the lapel gets fed around arms, behind the torso, and between the legs to make it difficult for your opponent to pass your guard and also much easier to sweep him. The most recent variation in this... Read article

Takedowns

At it’s core BJJ is an incredibly effective way of fighting on the ground. But the sad truth is that grapplerts who haven’t trained in Judo or wrestling can often have a lot of problems getting the fight to the ground. In fact the only plan many BJJ practitioners have for getting a match to the ground is to pull guard, end of... Read article

exclamation-mark

When it comes to sparring, many BJJ rookies just freak out for the whole session. Every grip is a deathgrip, they spaz out when they're in the guard, and then push with every bit of their strength the whole time that they're pinned on the bottom. And then they get tired... If you have the accelerator pedal pushed right to the floor all the... Read article

Cartwheel Guard Pass

The cartwheel guard pass is one of the most spectacular guard passes out there. But it's not as difficult to do as you might think. In the video below I show you an easy four step progression, including some drills you can do on your own, to incorporate this exciting move into your repertoire. Plus I'll also share a sneaky way to slap the... Read article

BJJ Injuries

I'm not going to pretend that injuries don't suck.  They do. There have been many great athletic careers cut short by injury.  Many people who would otherwise have been great have had their dreams derailed when a bone went 'crack' or a ligament went 'snap' and then never quite recovered. The typical reaction of the BJJ addict when they get injured... Read article

The Highest Percentage Leglocks to Use vs. de la Riva Guard

The de la Riva guard has exploded in popularity in recent years. Since it was popularised by Ricardo de la Riva there have always been sweeps and submission available from this position but the ascent of the  Read article

Stephan-in-BJJ-Gi

Today I want to share the single best piece of advice I ever got from sport psychology. Let's set this up by supposing that you have an ambitious goal, like getting your BJJ brown belt, or winning a medal in a major competition… To achieve that goal you’ve obviously got to do lots of drilling, sparring, conditioning, etc. All these things get your... Read article

BJJ training

This butterfly guard pass doesn't require athleticism, speed or killer grips; instead this guard pass is all about the timing. To have great timing you either need to have super-fast reflexes to react to your opponent, OR you have to 'train' your opponent to give you a certain energy so you can anticipate it and have your response already waiting for... Read article

Closed Guard

Too often people forget about the bread-and-butter strategies that have been effective for decades and get seduced by the latest shiny technique. Maybe there's not a better example of something that has stood the test of time like the closed guard. The closed guard has been controlling and submitting opponents with the gi, in no gi submission... Read article

Joao Miyao teaching the Ninja Armlock from Berimbolo

Here's some seriously advanced stuff for you: renowned black belt competitor Joao Miyao breaking down the Ninja Armlock from Berimbolo. In the exclusive Grapplearts Field Reports Video Miyao uses his bread and butter move - the Berimbolo sweep - from... Read article

GB

An Article by Mark Mullen Back in 2009, I wrote a brief article about my first trip to train BJJ in Rio de Janeiro. That first  article generated a decent amount of comments and so, 4 years later after another trip to Brazil, here’s Part 2! On my most... Read article

Stephan teaching BJJ

The most dangerous situation in BJJ is training with an absolute novice. I'm serious!  Someone who has never trained before is often unpredictable, jerky, and just doesn't know the rules of the game yet. All that thrashing around, lack of control, as well as potential ego issues means that there's a pretty high likelihood of something going wrong. ... Read article

Stephan Running

To condition or not to condition, that is the question… Whether ’tis smarter for your body to strain under barbells and long distance runs, or ignore all that stuff and just focus on getting more mat time. This is NOT an article about general fitness, or about achieving a goal in another sport. If you want to run a half-marathon for the challenge,... Read article

Kazushi Sakuraba

I came across the video below and thought it was a poignant tribute to the arc of Sakuraba's career in Pride. It combines Sakuraba's beautiful grappling with the extreme violence of Japanese Pride, along with a melancholy undertone that reminded me of the movie 'The Wrestler' starring Mickey Rourke from a few years ago. For those of you not... Read article

Triangle Choke Combinations & Followups

The Triangle Choke is definitely another one of those Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu signature moves. It's a super-powerful submission and it is responsible for ending a LOT of BJJ, MMA and submission grappling matches. But the sad fact is that no submission works for everyone, or on every opponent all the time... For example, sometimes your legs can be... Read article

Stephan-in-blue-gi

We've just released the latest episode of the Grapplearts Radio Podcast! This time I talk to Scott Nelson from On The Mat.  Scott is a North American jiu-jitsu pioneer who was one of the very first guys to travel to Brazil to train in the motherland of the art. He was also one of the first guys to run a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu website (I remember visiting... Read article