Black Belt Blindness, And Other Dangers....


A black belt is just a 2 inch wide piece of cloth, not a license to pontificate upon matters about which you are utterly ignorant.

It’s also doesn’t give you the right to have people’s unquestioning obedience.

To get a legitimate black belt in BJJ requires more time, effort, and investment than a black belt in almost any other martial art.  If someone has spent the blood, sweat and tears required to reach this rank, then likely their skill level in jiu-jitsu is quite high.

But that’s it.  That’s where the expertise stops. (more…)

37 Powerful BJJ Submissions for Grapplers

Have you ever wondered what the most popular and powerful BJJ submissions in BJJ are?  Here’s our list of the top 37 submissions taught in BJJ academies all over the world.

WARNING: not all of these techniques are legal in IBJJF competition, or allowed at all schools.  But it’s still better to be familiar with these illegal techniques just in case someone tries to use them on you. And many of these illegal BJJ moves still have a ton of validity for MMA applications or self defense situations, so they are well worth learning! (more…)

BJJ Beginner Tips Interview and Podcast

In this Grapplearts interview I talk to BJJ Black Belt Ritchie Yip, focusing on tips that BJJ beginners need to know.  But sometimes the conversation goes a little off track!

You can follow/consume/download/watch this awesome and informative interview several different ways…

  1. You can watch the Youtube video below
  2. You can download the mp3 file by right clicking here and selecting ‘Save As’
  3. You can subscribe to the Grapplearts Radio Podcast in iTunes by clicking here (more…)

How to Experience Flow for the First Time in BJJ

Advanced BJJ players often talk about ‘flow’ – the ability to effortlessly adapt to changing situations and flow around resistance you might run into.  But flow isn’t a state that you suddenly arrive at in BJJ.

Instead, as you progress in the art, you start getting little glimpses of it, hints of how things might hook together, and brief moments when things work out effortlessly.

Of course, when you’re first starting out in BJJ the first couple of months are usually a complete confusing mess.

Nothing makes sense: you get squished, dominated and submitted.  And, what’s worse, is that most of the time you don’t even have the vocabulary to describe what’s happening to you. (more…)

How to Adjust Your Triangle for Maximum Tightness and Effectiveness

Some techniques just require a bit more tweaking than others…

For example, when I was a whitebelt the armbar was fairly easy to learn.  The triangle choke, on the other hand, was relatively easy to apply, but hard to finish, (which was very frustrating).

It took a lot of experimentation, coaching and adjusting before I was able to successfully choke out even cooperating, non-resisting partners with the triangle. (more…)

Don't Panic, This is Normal!

I often hear from people distraught about some area of their jiu-jitsu lagging behind.

It might be their sweeps from the closed guard, their submissions from side mount, their escapes from rear mount, or their butterfly guard passes, but in that that one specific area they’re just not as good at as they should be.

Here’s the thing though: there will ALWAYS be areas where you are lagging behind! (more…)

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…)

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….

(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…)

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.

(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…)