How to React Without Thinking

What Bruce Lee and Malcolm Gladwell Taught Me About Mushin (or the Art of No-Mind and Executing the Perfect Technique),

Bruce Lee and Malcom Gladwell agree with Mark Mullen.  Sometimes things just happen too quickly to use conscious thought.

Sometimes you just need to forget about thought and simply react to the situation. (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…)

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…)

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…)

Why Talent is Way Overrated

So I’m touring Casa Loma recently, the famous castle in downtown Toronto and the largest private residence ever constructed in Canada.

Just the usual touristic wandering of the halls, climbing the turrets, and exploring the never-ending parade of lavishly decorated rooms.

All of a sudden I heard something beautiful drifting through the marble and hardwood hallways. (more…)

How to Build Self Confidence in BJJ

Today I want to share the single best piece of advice I ever got from sport psychology.

Let’s set this up by supposing that you have an ambitious goal, like getting your BJJ brown belt, or winning a medal in a major competition…

To achieve that goal you’ve obviously got to do lots of drilling, sparring, conditioning, etc. All these things get your body into shape and ready for action. But when we’re talking about elite jiu-jitsu then almost everybody is in shape. And most people are fast and strong and have great timing. (more…)

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…)

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…)

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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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…)

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…)

More On Concussions in MMA

Last week I published my contentious, ‘Does MMA Make You Stupid‘ article. Since then there have been a few more developments on the concussion controversy, so I figured it was worth sharing the updates so as to keep you in the loop.

UPDATE 1: STEPHAN KESTING ON THE NHB NEWS PODCAST

Over the weekend I was contacted by Eddie Goldman, the Godfather of MMA, from the NHB News website and podcast. (more…)

Get Your Action Photo Featured on Grapplearts

Over the years a lot of readers have had their photos of grappling action appear on the Grapplearts Featured Photo page.  Some photos were taken by professional photographers, but the majority were taken by amateurs, sometimes even just snapped on on iPhone at the local tournament or open mat.

People love these photos, which is why we’ve recently been cross-posting them on the Grapplearts Facebook page as well…

(more…)

The Truth about Supplements - Everyone is Lying to You

When it comes to supplements for BJJ, or any other sport for that matter, almost everybody giving you advice is lying to you. Or at the very least, deluded by wishful thinking…

And just to alienate even more people, by the term ‘supplements’ I’m including most vitamins, minerals, ergogenic aids, pre-workout drinks, post-workout shakes, homeopathic medicine, herbal concoctions, chinese medicine, and all the other products offered by the supplement-industrial complex. (more…)

My Digital Reading List, May 23, 2013

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…)

BJJ Lessons from a Sushi Master

I just watched a really cool documentary called Jiro Dreams of Sushi (available on Netflix, iTunes, etc.).  This 2011 film paints a fascinating portrait of Jiro Ono, an 85 year old master chef who’s been making sushi for 75 years.

Jiro – the protagonist – is a single-minded perfectionist workaholic who hates national holidays because they keep him away from his obsession,  which is working on creating the perfect sushi experience for his customers. (more…)

The Best BJJ Submissions Revealed

What’s the best submission in BJJ? Wow, that’s a tough question!  And the first problem is trying to define what we mean by the word ‘best’…

Before we get into semantics and statistics let’s start by agreeing that there are a million different submissions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Submission Grappling, and that not all of these techniques were were created equal.   (more…)

How to Improve Your Hip and Leg Flexibility

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…)