Takedowns for People Who Don't Do Takedowns...

At it’s core BJJ is an incredibly effective way of fighting on the ground.

But the sad truth is that grapplerts who haven’t trained in Judo or wrestling can often have a lot of problems getting the fight to the ground.

In fact the only plan many BJJ practitioners have for getting a match to the ground is to pull guard, end of story. (more…)

3 Ways to Deal With Injuries in BJJ

I’m not going to pretend that injuries don’t suck.  They do.

There have been many great athletic careers cut short by injury.  Many people who would otherwise have been great have had their dreams derailed when a bone went ‘crack’ or a ligament went ‘snap’ and then never quite recovered.

The typical reaction of the BJJ addict when they get injured is, ‘Oh no, now I can’t train.(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…)

A Jedi Mind Trick for Passing Butterfly Guard

This butterfly guard pass doesn’t require athleticism, speed or killer grips; instead this guard pass is all about the timing.

To have great timing you either need to have super-fast reflexes to react to your opponent, OR you have to ‘train’ your opponent to give you a certain energy so you can anticipate it and have your response already waiting for him. (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…)

Should I Do Extra Conditioning for BJJ?

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…)

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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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…)

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…)

How to Escape the Mount of a Much Larger Opponent

The mount is one of the most dominant positions in grappling. The reason for this is mostly because of what could happen if you got mounted in the street.

An attacker in the mount (aka the ‘schoolyard bully’ position) can rain down powerful punches into your face with virtual impunity.

If you try to punch back from the bottom of mount then your strikes probably won’t even reach his head. (more…)

Just Say NO to Getting Swept in the Guard

There’s a strong argument to be made for knowing how to pass the guard both standing up AND kneeling down.  This keeps your opponent guessing and allows you to change your game up and avoid his strengths.

What I’m going to give you today is a free sample of my Black Belt Grappling Concepts Course that’ll show you how to shut down one of the most common problems you’ll encounter when you’re using standing guard passes… (more…)

A Blackbelt's Private Lesson With a Jiu-jitsu Master, by Mark Mullen

This is a very interesting field report by my first BJJ training partner (and now BJJ black belt) Mark Mullen, who just came back from a trip to Brazil – Stephan Kesting.

I recently spent 2 months in Rio de Janeiro, shortly after graduating to black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In addition to enjoying the beaches, acai and famous sights of Rio I was looking to get on the mat and learn some jiu-jitsu to bring back to the students in my home academy in Canada. (more…)

The Most Dangerous Throw in Judo & BJJ

There’s a good reason that the extremely effective throw Kani Basami has been banned in all Judo and most BJJ competitions: it’s super dangerous!

Kani Basami has inflicted severe lower body injuries in dojos and competitions all over the world. I myself used it extensively until I was sparring with a wrestler, misjudged the distances, and landed on his ankle severely twisting it. He was out of commission for months recovering from that injury. (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…)

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…)

How to Incorporate a New Technique into Your Arsenal

Incorporating a new move into your sparring and competition repertoire can be tricky. Too many people go and and try their nifty new technique on everybody right away, hoping that it will work at least some of the time. But this may not actually be the best way to do it.

In fact, this scattershot method, and not having a concrete plan for rolling out new moves, can even be counterproductive… (more…)

The Most Distinctive MMA Fighter

Man, nobody else fights like Masakazu Imanari. Such a distinctive (and scary) style…

Imanari is a man on a mission: if there’s a leg in the room somewhere then he’s going to find it and tear it off. Every moment of every fight he’s looking to wrap up that leg: it doesn’t matter if you’re punching, kicking, clinching or on the ground.

Even the former UFC fighter (and infamous heel hooker) Rousimar Palhares doesn’t turn himself upside down and launch himself towards his opponent while looking for a heel hook. (more…)

Self Defense, Competition, and Performing In High Pressure Situations

Performance under pressure is always tricky.  In fact a lot of martial arts practitioners worry about whether they’d actually be able to execute their skills in super-stressful situations.

Of course competing at a tournament or performing at belt tests can be stressful.  But the scariest high pressure situation of all is a self defence scenario where you and/or your family is being threatened.

If push were to come to shove and you actually had to defend yourself could you actually use your skills?  Or are you worried that your mind might turn to mush in the heat of the moment… (more…)