Grapplearts Articles

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

Teaching the armbar from guard

The armbar from guard is one of those bread-and-butter techniques in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. A signature move, if you will. Unfortunately it can also be difficult for some people execute the mechanics of the armbar from the guard correctly. It's easy to get confused with all that gripping, shifting, adjusting and swivelling, and then completely botch the... Read article

Guard Pass

Many matches are won or lost in the struggle to pass the guard. In fact passing the guard of a skilled player may be the single hardest thing to do in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It's not uncommon for a high-level competitor to spend 8 or 9 minutes of a 10 minute match fighting like crazy trying to pass the guard. These guys know a ton of guard... Read article

Diver on Board

I saw something amazing in the pool where I was hanging out after a workout today. First I noticed that there was a group of about 7 men jumping off the highest part of the diving tower, again and again. This wasn't a dinky little diving board 1 meter off the water. They were throwing themselves off the 5 meter board, which is high enough to make... Read article

BJJ private lesson with Gordo

Recently I published an article on my blog by one of my very first BJJ training partners, Mark Mullen, talking about the private lessons he, as a black belt, took when he was in Brazil. Almost as an aside Mark mentioned that he had... Read article

Rear Mount Escape

There's one specific rear mount escape you'll see more than any other in high level competition... It's also my 'go to' escape when I'm sparring with tough training partners... And to top... Read article

Gordo Closed Guard Pass

I’m in the middle of trying something new at Grapplearts.com… The lion’s share of the BJJ videos in the article and technique section of this site have been produced by yours truly (Stephan Kesting). But recently one of my very first BJJ training partners also wanted to contribute some cool footage... Read article

Gi Choke Grips

How a single 'quick fix' can triple the power of your gi choke attacks Gi chokes are a fundamental and effective strategy in BJJ. Maybe the two best known gi choke are the cross collar choke from guard and the cross collar choke from mount.  We'll explore that choke in more detail below, but rest assured that it has been used to submit world... Read article

Escaping Mount against a much bigger opponent

The mount is one of the most dominant positions in grappling. The reason for this is mostly because of what could happen if you got mounted in the street. An attacker in the mount (aka the 'schoolyard bully' position) can rain down powerful punches into your face with virtual impunity. If you try to punch back from the bottom of mount then your... Read article

sneaky armbar escape

The armbar escape in the video below is one of my favourite armbar defenses. I like it because it's simple and effective against a wide variety of grapplers, but also because of the reaction it gets from people who were oh-so-close to armbarring you. They'll either laugh or swear out loud after you get out; either reaction is pretty... Read article

Countering the Heel Grab

There's a strong argument to be made for knowing how to pass the guard both standing up AND kneeling down.  This keeps your opponent guessing and allows you to change your game up and avoid his strengths. What I'm going to give you today is a free sample of my  Read article

BJJ private lesson with Gordo

This is a very interesting field report by my first BJJ training partner (and now BJJ black belt) Mark Mullen, who just came back from a trip to Brazil - Stephan Kesting. I recently spent 2 months in Rio de Janeiro, shortly after graduating to black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In addition to enjoying the beaches, acai and famous sights of Rio I... Read article

Kani Basami - the most dangerous judo and bjj throw

There's a good reason that the extremely effective throw Kani Basami has been banned in all Judo and most BJJ competitions: it's super dangerous! Kani Basami has inflicted severe lower body injuries in dojos and competitions all over the world. I myself used it extensively until I was sparring with a wrestler, misjudged the distances, and landed on his... Read article

How to tie your BJJ or Judo Belt

It's funny: in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu both people start a match looking so neat and tidy in their designer gi's. But less than a minute later it's usually a complete yard-sale: the lapels have come undone, the gi is pulled over someone's head, and the loose belt is wrapped around someone's ankles. Well, here's a 4 minute breakdown on how to tie your BJJ or... Read article

Ritchie getting his bjj black belt

I recently interviewed my friend, training partner, black belt, and school owner Ritchie Yip. The main theme of our discussion was the art and science of teaching martial arts, including how to teach students with different learning styles and experience levels. Not every student learns the same way, and a good teacher knows how to adapt his material and... Read article

Stephan-Kesting

Incorporating a new move into your sparring and competition repertoire can be tricky. Too many people go and and try their nifty new technique on everybody right away, hoping that it will work at least some of the time. But this may not actually be the best way to do it. In fact, this scattershot method, and not having a concrete plan for rolling out... Read article

Imanari Leglock

Man, nobody else fights like Masakazu Imanari. Such a distinctive (and scary) style… Imanari is a man on a mission: if there's a leg in the room somewhere then he's going to find it and tear it off. Every moment of every fight he's looking to wrap up that leg: it doesn't matter if you're punching, kicking, clinching or on the ground. Even the former... Read article

Armbar Escape

The armbar is one of the most common, most popular, and most powerful submissions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  If you train with anybody your own level or higher then you're gonna get caught in it… often. You need to have answers for this problem….  In fact you need to have multiple escapes that work for different variations of... Read article

cloverleaf from Kajukenbo Crest 2

Performance under pressure is always tricky.  In fact a lot of martial arts practitioners worry about whether they'd actually be able to execute their skills in super-stressful situations. Of course competing at a tournament or performing at belt tests can be stressful.  But the scariest high pressure situation of all is a self defence scenario where... Read article

crowdsourced bjj 2

There's never been a better time to get better at BJJ. A sixteenth century samurai who wanted to improve his duelling skills had relatively limited options.  If he put up with enough hazing and character testing then, maybe, his sensei would eventually decide to teach him some good stuff. And hopefully he would have learned some things by... Read article

Travis Stevens and Jimmy Pedro on Defeating Ronda Rousey's Armbar

Love her or hate her, Ronda Rousey is an armbar machine.  At UFC 168 she defeated Meisha Tate with her eighth armbar in eight MMA fights.  This armbar streak is an amazing achievement, and a lot of people (including a lot of people who don't actually train) have been asking me how to counter this attack. I was thinking about doing this but it turns out... Read article

Upper Norish Creek

New Year's eve is just around the corner, making this the traditional time for drawing up plans, making resolutions, and setting your goals for the upcoming year. "This year I'm gonna do this… I'm gonna stop doing that…" Goal setting is super important and I'm all for it. I hope that you have your goals for the year clearly written out... Read article

Laurie Berenson BJJ Sparring

The following guest post is written by Laurie Berenson. She comes to BJJ from a background of training in Muay Thai. I really like her attitude so I invited her to put pen to paper and share her perspective with us. She is currently studying under black belts William Stevens and Casey Van Brookhoven at Stevens Martial Arts in New Jersey, USA.... Read article

clark gracie mural

This is a great interview with 2013 Pan Am BJJ Champion Clark Gracie.  He shares a ton of cool info. You can listen to, read, or download this interview in several different ways… Play the audio-only Youtube video at the bottom of this list, and/or  Read article

Clark Gracie doing an X guard Sweep

In recent years the X Guard has become one of the bread and butter positions in the open guard repertoire. It's an incredibly powerful position, both in gi and no gi grappling (click here for an intro to the X Guard). There are a ton of great techniques, sweeps, and drills that... Read article

Clark Gracie RNC

I recently did a podcast interview with Clark Gracie at a friend's house.  After the interview we were talking about the rear naked choke and I realised two things: A) my friend had mats, and B) I had a camera in the car. This was a great opportunity to pick his mind some more, so we quickly set up shop and Clark shared some really great tips about... Read article

dan_carlin_headshot

Most of the time I restrain myself and keep the discussion in this blog focused on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Grappling, and MMA. But sometimes I just have to go outside the reservation... Like many people, I'm a huge fan of Dan Carlin's Hardcore History show. No matter what I'm involved in,... Read article

lapeloplata

My friend Ostap Manastyrski and I recently shot a video about the evolving trend in the competitive Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world that involves playing with the lapels of your opponent. People are now doing spider guard on the lapels, attacking with omoplata-style movements against the lapels, and developing all kinds of new gi-based tricks and strategies... Read article

blue belt

by Mark Mullen A few weeks back I penned an article called "What Do Whitebelts Need To Learn In Their 1st Year of BJJ?". That prompted a few people to request a discussion of the next step in the BJJ journey: Bluebelt. If we think of the... Read article

self defense pinning positions

Reverse lapeloplatas and inside-out upside-down berimbolos might be fun to train and effective for some guys in high level competition, but at its core Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is a martial art. So once in a while we need to regroup, refocus, and give some thought to what parts of the art we would use in a real self defense situation. In self... Read article

Berimbolo2

Sometimes the best way to really understand something is to teach it. When it comes to jiu-jitsu, breaking a technique down into steps (not too many, not too few) and finding the best way to convey the underlying principles often helps clarify things in your mind. I've been doing a lot of this with the berimbolo sweep recently. For... Read article

bridging the gap in a streetfight

BJJ is a great fitness activity and a wonderful sport. But at it's core Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is still a martial art. The word 'martial' is defined as "being related to fighting or war". And that means you have to be ready throw down should the s**t hit the fan out there in the... Read article

white belt

by guest author Mark Mullen I'm currently in Rio de Janeiro doing a little training in BJJ. While here I have met a number of white belts at the Connection Rio BJJ hostel. Sitting around the pool or over acai after training, inevitably the topic of conversation turns to BJJ and the struggles of the white belts trying to find their way in the art... Read article

Keenan Cornelius Lucas Leite armbar 2013 BJJ expo

In the No Gi super fight at the 2013 BJJ Expo between Keenan Cornelius and Lucas Leite there was an absolutely spectacular submission. Keenan hit an inverted spinning armbar from half guard that impressed the hell out of everyone who saw it. First, here's the match itself. The armbar sequence starts at about 8:01.  Read article

Conditioning for Grappling & BJJ

There are lots of reasons to start doing a conditioning program if you're training in BJJ or submission grappling. The most important (yet often overlooked) benefit is to injury proof your body and allow you to train longer, harder, and more often.  Other benefits can include increased strength, improved muscular endurance, elevated aerobic and anaerobic... Read article

Reverse de la Riva Guard

The de la Riva guard is an open guard position in which you entangle one of your opponent's legs with your own leg.  It was popularised years ago by Ricardo de la Riva, and has since become a staple of gi and no gi jiu-jitsu. But a related position, the Reverse de la... Read article

Grapplearts Android and Apple apps

This week we've been releasing a series of apps featuring BJJ black belt Brandon 'Wolverine' Mullins at a rate of one per day. (A lot of the apps have also been getting the coveted four and five star ratings in both  Read article

5 reasons to grapple in a streetfight

A lot of self proclaimed self defence experts will emphatically and categorically tell you to "never, ever go to the ground in a streetfight."  But no single strategy works in every situation, and anyone telling you to always do something, or never do something, is automatically wrong. The truth is that you may well be forced... Read article

Stephan Teaching a Group

I often get questions from BJJ and submission grappling practitioners about whether they can benefit from doing additional drills at home.  Often the people asking these questions are either extremely time-constrained and can't make it to the class as often as they would like.  Or they are just very serious students of the art and want to improve as fast... Read article

Android BJJ Apps

The next generation of instructional Android apps have finally arrived! As evidenced by the fact that I slept about 2 hours last night, and now I'm in front of my computer AGAIN, it's taken a TON of development and testing to get here... But today we're releasing the first Android app in the 'How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent' series with... Read article

Kangaroo using the Rear Naked Choke

This might just be the coolest thing I have ever seen. A Kangaroo MMA match complete with kicks, clinching, takedowns and a bona fide chokeout for the submission of the night! From my vantage point it looks like Joey actually used the 'short choke', rather than  Read article

Mind going blank during training

------------------------------ QUESTION ------------------------------ Hi Stephan, First of all, I want to thank you for creating your instructional apps and having these  Read article

Zombie Apocalypse Weapons1

I've just put the most important video I've ever shot onto Youtube: Jiu-Jitsu for the Zombie Apocalypse. A lot of people will tell you that jiu-jitsu will be useless when the Zombie Apocalypse hits.  But those people have an agenda: usually they're trying to sell you flamethrowers, or... Read article

John Perretti

I recently talked to John Perretti, the former matchmaker for both the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the Extreme Fighting Championship. In our fifty minute interview John and I discussed the early days of the sport, how he found and selected fighters, brain trauma in the combat sports, his disdain for the current state of the UFC, and much... Read article

At the bottom of this post is a Youtube video I just created to show the easiest way to do the Berimbolo. Now if you're a Berimbolo aficionado then you've probably already scrolled down. But maybe you're on the fence about this move. Or maybe you don't even know what it is and why you should care about it. Well, give me a minute to put it into context... Read article

MarceloPlata2

Here's a 12 minute tutorial I just put out breaking down two really cool variations of the Omoplata armlock which is one of my all-time favourite techniques. The first variation is called the 'Marceloplata' - it's named after superstar grappler Marcelo Garcia who popularised this technique.... Read article

Ground and Pound in MMA

Last week I published my contentious, 'Does MMA Make You Stupid' article. Since then there have been a few more developments on the concussion controversy, so I figured it was worth sharing the updates so as to keep you in the loop. UPDATE 1: STEPHAN KESTING ON THE... Read article

MMA Punch

MMA has been my guilty pleasure for a long time. On the one hand, I'm a huge fan. I've been watching the UFC since its inauguration in 1993, and have enjoyed fights in Pride FC, Shooto, WEC, Strikeforce, Bellator, and many other organisations. I have good friends who are professional fighters, and have helped them prepare for their fights. And I have... Read article

7- BM switching grip on lapel

When you're in your opponent's guard one of the most annoying things he can do is secure a really good cross-collar grip on you.  True, this grip doesn't have much utility for MMA or no-gi training (in fact being too reliant on it can create some really bad habits for when the gi comes off), but in BJJ the cross-collar grip is... Read article

overhook

Posture, posture, posture... Everyone talks about posture as THE solution to staying out of trouble in the guard. Every guard pass ever taught starts out with, "First, make posture in the guard." But the trouble is that your opponent knows this too. If you're in his closed guard, and if... Read article

Stephan Teaching a Group

I often get questions about diet and nutrition from grapplers and martial artists.  People want to eat correctly because they think it will make them more effective in BJJ class, allow them to recover faster after training, and provide them with better health overall. Well, it's true.  What you eat can have a HUGE effect on your performance.... Read article

Leglock featured photo

Hey, we're having another Grapplearts T Shirt Giveaway! This time three lucky readers are going to get a coveted Grapplearts T shirt shipped directly to their home! What you need to do to be eligible is to submit a Grappling, BJJ or MMA picture for the Grapplearts Featured Photo... Read article

YouTube icon 2

I recently noticed that my grappling and jiu-jitsu channel on Youtube had passed 10 million total views! I'm stoked about this, and I think it's a big landmark for an independently operated business. Thanks to every single reader who helped out by liking, subscribing and commenting on the videos; every... Read article

Butterfly Guard Posture

Posture in the butterfly guard is incredibly important.  With the butterfly guard (as with any guard position) good posture is the key to defending the guard pass, attacking with submissions, and/or sweeping your opponent. But maintaining good posture is easier said than done, because your opponent is actively working to break it... Read article

How to Stabilize the Mount

Many smaller grapplers avoid the mount position because they feel it's too easy for a larger opponent to simply throw them off or roll them to the bottom. It usually takes a TON of work to get to the mount, and it really sucks when some big doofus simply sits up and rolls you to the bottom where you have to start all over again! But there ARE... Read article

BS11-standing belly armbar

Takedowns can seem difficult, tricky and confusing. Especially if you're not gifted with a surplus of fast-twitch muscle and innately awesome timing. But my friend and BJJ world champion Emily Kwok has a concept that makes the whole takedowns game a LOT easier. She sums up this idea as "My Tie or No Tie." If you start using this... Read article

Rafael Lovato Jr Celebrating

This is a great interview with BJJ competition legend Rafael Lovato Jr.  You can listen to, read, or download this interview in several different ways… Play the audio-only Youtube video at the bottom of this list, and/or  Read article