Grapplearts Articles

Collar-Spider-Variation

The Spider Guard is a very diverse position.  Normally you start with the Double Feet on Biceps variation, but after that there are a TON of variations (including the Leg Lasso, de la Spider, Reverse de la Spider, Spider X, Collar-Spider, and Collar-Sleeve variations). Of all these Spider Guard Variations the Collar-Spider is probably my very... Read article

Spider Guard App 4 for iPhone, iPad and Android

Today we're going to talk about the fourth brand new instructional app in the Spider Guard Masterclass series, and cover a few new positions in the process... The app is called Spider Guard Masterclass Volume 4: Next Level Spider Guard, Part 2, and it focuses on three powerful variations of Spider Guard: The Collar-Sleeve... Read article

Leg Lasso from Spider Guard

We've been talking a lot about the instructional apps in the Spider Guard Masterclass series... And today we're going to take a look at the third app in this series.  It's called  Read article

Spinning Triangle Choke from Spider Guard

The first time I saw this triangle choke setup was about 15 years ago when I was still working as a field biologist. At the time I was on a contract 3,000 miles away from home, and living out of a motel. To stay in shape I went for runs and lifted weights on alternate days, but once a week I would drive for 2 hours each way (4 hours in the car total) to... Read article

Berimbolo Finishes from Sit Down Sweep

The Berimbolo is an incredibly powerful technique in modern BJJ. It's both a way of finalising a sweep and completely bypassing your opponent's guard with a single technique. Imagine not only being able to easily sweep your opponent from your open guard, but NOT having to fight your way past his guard.  Instead you directly teleport to a dominant,... Read article

Spider Guard App 2 for iPhone, iPad and Android

If you've ever been shown Spider Guard by your instructor then chances are it was the double feet on biceps variation. This is the classic form of Spider Guard first developed in the eighties, which has continued to change and evolve and as a consequence is still very effective today. But it can seem like a complicated position, and if you've ever had... Read article

Spider Guard App 5 for iPhone, iPad and Android

Today is the release date for the first of the five brand new Spider Guard instructional apps from Grapplearts.com. The name of this app is "Understanding Spider Guard, The Critical Fundamentals." This may sound like a boring... Read article

Black Belt Image 2

A black belt is just a 2 inch wide piece of cloth, not a license to pontificate upon matters about which you are utterly ignorant. It's also doesn't give you the right to have people's unquestioning obedience. To get a legitimate black belt in BJJ requires more... Read article

No Gi Spider Guard Triangle Choke Setup

A lot of people think that Spider Guard is only applicable to BJJ with the gi.  They're kinda right, but they're also mostly wrong. You see, it's more complicated than "no gi equals no Spider Guard..." First of all, if you get good at something as intricate and technical as Spider Guard then it develops your sensitivity, leg dexterity, coordination,... Read article

Steve Whittier Interview

Steve Whittier from SBG East Coast is a cool guy. He manages to combine both thoughtful analyses and controversial opinions into one eloquent package. In this interview we talked about lots of different BJJ and MMA related topics, but the main emphasis and recurring theme was functional drilling and the efficacy of... Read article

How to do the Twister

The Twister is a flashy and hellishly effective submission made famous by Eddie Bravo. It's now illegal in IBJJF competition, but it shows up sometimes in submission grappling and you're even starting to see it in MMA! If you catch your training partners in it - carefully and gently of course - then you get major bragging rights and some instant 'mat... Read article

Grapplearts-T-Shirts

A lot of people ask me about Grapplearts shirts. And while I'm happy to create them I don't want to stock tons and tons of T-Shirt inventory in a cacophony of sizes and colours. That's why I tend to do shirts in limited edition campaigns: I put a design out there, and if we get enough interest in a in it then we go out and get the shirts printed up, ship... Read article

Kimura from Side Mount

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... Read article

37-BJJ-Submissions-for-grapplers-ver-2

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... Read article

Rolling Bow and Arrow 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... Read article

Kimura/Pass from Half Guard Top

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... Read article

breaststroke choke from side mount for gi and no gi

This is one of my very favourite attacks from Sidemount. It works in a BJJ context (i.e. with the gi), in submission grappling, and even in MMA. It's a very powerful attack, but the best thing about is that if it doesn't work then you don't typically lose position. You stay on top and can easily switch to a followup attack. I call it... Read article

Ritchie-Yip-BJJ-Beginner-Tips-2

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... You can watch the Youtube video below  Read article

Stephan Teaching a Group

In my early days of martial arts training I ran into quite a few teachers who were so full of themselves that students asking questions was almost unheard of. At first I thought that this was normal. I thought that maybe things would change after I'd paid my dues for 10 or 20 years... And then I started training in JKD under Makoto Kabayama.... Read article

submission defense blog

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... Read article

Countering the overhook from closed guard

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... Read article

cross collar grip

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... Read article

BJJ Injuries

Today’s topic isn’t sexy. There aren’t any clever armbars, killer chokes, or brand new strategies that’ll give you an edge on the mat. But it might just save you years of suffering and stalled progress. Today I want to talk about three big lessons I learned dealing with various types of martial arts injuries… Injuries are the... Read article

Pullups for BJJ

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... Read article

sentry removal dim mak 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  Read article

Butterfly guard sweep

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... Read article

Escaping the Mount in 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... Read article

The Rack 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 -... Read article

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... Read article

spider guard pressure

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! I... Read article

How to Adjust Your Triangle Choke for Maximum tightness

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... Read article

Spider-Guard-Masterclass

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... Read article

Spider-Guard-Mind-Map-Closeup2

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... Read article

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... Read article

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