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 jiu-jitsu.
But there are a lot of variations of the pull-up, and sometimes people are confused as to which variation they should do. (more…)
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 key component of my friend Jamie McGarva’s preparation for setting a two new world record in 2012, and then leading his team to victory at the World Championships in 2013.
And I think it’s very relevant to the energetic demands of BJJ as well.
The first time I tried the Combat Challenge Sprint Workout I must have gone just a bit too hard, because halfway through I bolted from the gym, ran to the bathroom, and threw up in the toilet. (more…)
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 I actually do have some definite opinions about these topics. But the thing is that my opinions apply only to me.
You have to figure out what works for you by trial and error. (more…)
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, the endorphins, or the sense of achievement then there’s no ambiguity about what you should do: tie up those running shoes and start jogging! (more…)
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 capacities, and more explosiveness, all of which will only improve your grappling game. (more…)
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 as humanly possible.
My answer is that there ARE a lot of solo movement drills in BJJ. And yes, drilling can sometimes be very, very helpful. (more…)
Serious training requires focus and intent when you’re on the mat. Those precious few hours of training every week deserve your complete attention so you can get good faster; life is too short for half-ass mediocrity. (more…)
I always say that this jiu-jitsu stuff is a marathon, not a sprint.
Partially this is because it takes time to remodel your body so that it can do the things you want it to do. It’s also because you need to find and incorporate hundreds of little tricks, tweaks and techniques that work with your body and your ever-evolving style on the mats. (more…)
Hip and leg flexibility is a huge asset in grappling, especially when it comes to not letting your opponent pass your guard, for launching sneaky sweeps and submissions from the guard position, and for weaseling your way out of tight pins.
Plus if you’re training in MMA, Muay Thai, Karate, Kickboxing, or any other martial art that involves kicking then flexibility will obviously help you out there as well. (more…)
There’s almost nothing worse than a painful back. Unlike other body parts, an injury to your back comes to define your entire life.
If your arm is strained, or you’ve twisted your knee, or if you’ve tweaked your shoulder, then usually you can find a way to get through your day without aggravating your injury too much. But a sore back finds a way to haunt you every second of every day. (more…)
This is a rather rambling post; in the words of Mark Twain, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
First, and most importantly, I really hope that you had a great Christmas (or alternate celebration of your choice). And that you got to spend time with friends, family and loved ones.
Next, congratulations on surviving the Mayan Calendar Apocalypse! (more…)
An old training partner sent me a short email yesterday. Here’s what it said:
A lot of grapplers have creaky joints, and tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow are just two of the most common overtraining injuries you’re likely to encounter at the club. Here’s one grappler’s solution to his grappling-induced elbow problems. (more…)
Cardiovascular training can be a confusing topic and there are many different and divergent views on the subject. Different reputable sources inform us that you don’t need to do cardio (more…)
An individual seeking to become a complete martial athlete cannot afford to leave the ancient practice of yoga out of his/her training regimen. No other exercise addresses and develops as many physical AND mental attributes as yoga does. (more…)
By Stephan Kesting
Originally published in Ultimate Athlete, March 2003
The hard time for the training is already passed” – Rickson Gracie in Choke, before the 1995 Japan Vale Tudo Fighting Championship (more…)
By Stephan Kesting
Originally published in Ultimate Athlete, June 2003
|“Proper planning and preparation prevents piss-poor performance” - the 7 “P’s” of the British SAS (more…)|
In the not-so-distant past weight training was discouraged for martial artists. “It will make you slow”, “it will make you muscle-bound”, and “all you need is technique” were common opinions from the ‘experts’. (more…)
When Vitor ‘Shaolin’ Ribeiro started talking the drills he uses I paid attention. Shaolin has won the World BJJ Championships 4 times, holds the 140 to 155 lb belt in Shooto, and has a long list of other titles. He is an outstanding competitor in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, submission grappling and mixed martial arts, so he knows how to train effectively and efficiently! (more…)
Rhadi Ferguson is a 4-time US National Judo Champion, a 2004 Judo Olympian and a 2005 Abu Dhabi competitor. Since his retirement from active competion he is at the forefront of combative strength and conditioning training. (more…)
by Marcus Soares and Stephan Kesting
Originally published in Grappling Magazine
by Guest Author, Mark Mullen (BJJ Brown Belt, Judo Brown Belt)
I’ve been grappling for many years, and here’s a situation that comes up all the time…
I often spar younger, heavier, beginners. At the end of the round they’re usually fighting for breath, arms trembling from fatigue. (more…)
A reader writes: Hi Stephan,
Thank you for the newsletters! I started training BJJ and MMA about 5 months ago – it’s been life changing for me. (more…)