A Little-Known Move to Recover Guard from Turtle

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…)

A Fast and Simple Butterfly Guard Sweep

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…)

A Super Sneaky and Slick Triangle Choke Attack!

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…)

The Easiest Way to Develop Fast Guard Sweeps

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…)

The Two Biggest Benefits of Training Martial Arts

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 impressions…

The first thing I noticed were the inspirational posters and sayings painted all over the walls. (more…)

Should You Correct Your Weaknesses or Focus on Your Strengths?

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…)

Brandon 'Wolverine' Mullins on BJJ Training, Competition, Transitions and Evolution

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…)

How to Not Get Slammed in Your Closed Guard or Triangle Choke

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…)

The Danger of All-Or-Nothing Thinking...

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…)

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 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…)

The FREE Roadmap for BJJ App!

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…)

BJJ Seminar Disaster!

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….

(more…)

BJJ Self Defense Part 5: Defending the Low Tech (and Deadly) Headlock!

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…)

BJJ Self Defense Part 4: 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 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…)

BJJ Self Defense Part 3: The Street Guard

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…)

BJJ Self Defense Part 2: Escaping the Mount

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…)

BJJ Self Defense Part 1: Proximity, Panic and Claustrophobia

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…)

Redemption from Kung Fu Foolishness

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, begged, pleaded my parents to be given the tools of the trade (black outfit, sword, split toed sandals, all that good stuff), but unfortunately my mind control techniques weren’t up to snuff and I received no help from them.

For some reason my long suffering parents had their doubts that throwing stars and poisoned blow darts were good toys for their rambunctious 8 year old son.  Plus any ninja clans operating in the Greater Toronto Area were too well hidden for me to find them, especially since I was still almost a decade shy of testing for my driver’s license.

So my dreams of living a life in the shadows were crushed at an early age :( (more…)

Why Don't More BJJ Students Ask Questions?

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 starts the technical part of class by asking, “Are there any questions.” He then takes time to answer each and every question, regardless of whether it applies to BJJ, MMA or self defense. (more…)

Adam Singer on Modern MMA Training and Competition

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 about MMA and jiu-jitsu and the relationship between these things. He’s an outspoken guy, so I’m sure we’ll have a good conversation. (more…)

The Answer is Out There!

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 you that there’s someone out there who has already spent years working on that exact technique. (more…)

A Dirty Boxing Breakdown

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 boxing but still end up deciding fights all the time. (more…)