Five Great Followups to a Failed Triangle Choke

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 too short to apply an effective triangle choke. (more…)

The Easiest Way to Teach (and Learn) 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 whole technique.

But I’ve found a way to make the armbar from the bottom a whole lot easier to teach.

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Inspiring!

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 anyone’s heart go pitter-pat. (more…)

A Closed Guard Pass Direct From Brazil

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 to the video vault. (more…)

The Biggest Gi Choke Mistake (And How to Fix It)

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 class competitors at the highest levels of competition. (more…)

How to Escape the Mount of a Much Larger 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 strikes probably won’t even reach his head. (more…)

Just Say NO to Getting Swept in the Guard

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 Black Belt Grappling Concepts Course that’ll show you how to shut down one of the most common problems you’ll encounter when you’re using standing guard passes… (more…)

A Blackbelt's Private Lesson With a Jiu-jitsu Master, by Mark Mullen

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 was looking to get on the mat and learn some jiu-jitsu to bring back to the students in my home academy in Canada. (more…)

The Most Dangerous Throw in Judo & BJJ

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 ankle severely twisting it. He was out of commission for months recovering from that injury. (more…)

The Best Way to Tie Your 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 Judo belt so it stays in place and hardly ever comes undone. (more…)

The Art and Science of Teaching Martial Arts

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 curriculum to help students of all learning styles.

It’s sad that instructors (and aspiring instructors) often don’t know this stuff. They’d have happier students, better students, and bigger schools if they did. (more…)

How to Incorporate a New Technique into Your Arsenal

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 new moves, can even be counterproductive… (more…)

The Most Distinctive MMA Fighter

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 UFC fighter (and infamous heel hooker) Rousimar Palhares doesn’t turn himself upside down and launch himself towards his opponent while looking for a heel hook. (more…)

Self Defense, Competition, and Performing In High Pressure Situations

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 you and/or your family is being threatened.

If push were to come to shove and you actually had to defend yourself could you actually use your skills?  Or are you worried that your mind might turn to mush in the heat of the moment… (more…)

Crowdsourcing Your BJJ

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 watching, or participating in, the occasional sword fight. (more…)

How to Defeat The Judo-Style Rolling 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 that someone beat me to it. (more…)

The Real Secret to Mastering a Skill

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 and displayed in a prominent place. But the problem is that people want have their cake and eat it too.

In the popular new age Oprah conception of the world the only thing stopping you is your imagination or – alternately – your lack of belief in yourself.

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New to Jiu Jitsu? You’ll need a lot of this…

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.

When Stephan Kesting asked if I’d consider writing a guest post for grapplearts.com from the beginner’s perspective. I immediately balked at the idea. What could I speak to as a white belt? Not much! But I do know that one of the single biggest things jiu jitsu has taught me so far is to have patience… (more…)

A Cool X Guard Drill and 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 revolve around the X guard, but today I want to share a new drill with you that I recently learned from Clark Gracie in the basement of a friend’s house. (more…)

Fascism, the USSR, Iran, Afghanistan, El Salvador and Vampires.

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, whenever one of those exquisitely crafted podcasts comes out I drop everything and immerse myself in the Mongol conquests, or the origins of World War 1, or comparisons of Alexander the Great to Hitler. It’s amazing stuff.

But Dan Carlin also does a political commentary podcast called Common Sense. (more…)

Lapeloplatas, Feet on Lapel Spider Guards, & Other Gi BJJ Tricks

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 to manipulate and off balance their opponents from the bottom.

As we say in the video, we’re not sure if this is a good thing or not.  But like it or not, it IS a very real trend, so if you compete you need to be aware that it’s going on… (more…)

What Should A Blue Belt Concentrate On In Training?

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 whitebelt as a time of fleshing out the skeleton of the positional hierarchy and learning the mechanics of basic techniques, I would sum up the Bluebelt as a time of experimentation. (more…)

3 Ways to Safely Control an Opponent on the Ground for Self Defense.

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. (more…)