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 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….

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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…)

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…)

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…)

Some Principles and Concepts for an Effective Closed Guard

Too often people forget about the bread-and-butter strategies that have been effective for decades and get seduced by the latest shiny technique.

Maybe there’s not a better example of something that has stood the test of time like the closed guard.

The closed guard has been controlling and submitting opponents with the gi, in no gi submission grappling, in MMA and self defense for a very long time. (more…)

How to Train with Beginners so that Nobody Gets Hurt and You Both Get Better

The most dangerous situation in BJJ is training with an absolute novice.

I’m serious!  Someone who has never trained before is often unpredictable, jerky, and just doesn’t know the rules of the game yet.

All that thrashing around, lack of control, as well as potential ego issues means that there’s a pretty high likelihood of something going wrong. Either that dude planting an elbow in your eye, or not him tapping out when he’s in a Kimura, or doing something else stupid. (more…)

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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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…)

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…)

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…)

What Do White Belts Need to Learn in Their 1st Year of BJJ?

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 suave.

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Question: My Mind Goes Blank During Sparring...

—————————— QUESTION ——————————

Hi Stephan,

First of all, I want to thank you for creating your instructional apps and having these frequent tips/newsletters.   They have really helped me to get started in BJJ.  Even though I have been signed up to receive your emails for a while now I have only just begun my training.   (more…)

Jiu-Jitsu for the Zombie Apocalypse

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 have stocks in the big arms companies. (more…)

A Easy Way to Stay Out of Trouble in the Guard

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 posture is good for you, then posture is bad for him. So guess what? He’ll work like crazy to disrupt, destroy, and break down your posture whenever he’s got you in the closed guard.

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How to Maintain Rear Mount, Improve Guillotines, and Thwart 'Combatives' Experts

Rear mount seems like such a simple position: I mean, you’re basically just piggybacking on your opponent, right?

Well, success in jiu-jitsu usually means doing simple, fundamental things with a high degree of sophistication and attention to detail. And rear mount is no different – switch your grip by a couple of inches, have your hand open instead of closed, do the wrong thing for even a moment and the whole thing goes straight to hell! (more…)