When people start grappling they often feel like wimps.
Warmups are difficult, it’s hard to breath on the bottom, submissions are everywhere, your face gets smushed by your opponents, etc.
At times this sport is just plain uncomfortable! (more…)
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…)
One of the big trends in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu recently has been the increasing sophistication of lapel-based guard control and sweeps. In this style of game the lapel gets fed around arms, behind the torso, and between the legs to make it difficult for your opponent to pass your guard and also much easier to sweep him.
The most recent variation in this evolutionary trend is a position called ‘the Worm Guard,’ used by Keenan Cornelius in the 2014 World championships against some very legitimate opponents.
Even if you think that this type of guardplay is the devil’s work and never, ever intend to use it in your own game you will probably still run into someone at your academy (or in competition) who will try it on you.
And in order too counter it you first need to understand it! (more…)
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…)
When it comes to sparring, many BJJ rookies just freak out for the whole session.
Every grip is a deathgrip, they spaz out when they’re in the guard, and then push with every bit of their strength the whole time that they’re pinned on the bottom.
And then they get tired… (more…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
An Article by Mark Mullen
Back in 2009, I wrote a brief article about my first trip to train BJJ in Rio de Janeiro. That first article generated a decent amount of comments and so, 4 years later after another trip to Brazil, here’s Part 2!
On my most recent trip I stayed for 2 months. (more…)
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…)
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…)
I came across the video below and thought it was a poignant tribute to the arc of Sakuraba’s career in Pride. It combines Sakuraba’s beautiful grappling with the extreme violence of Japanese Pride, along with a melancholy undertone that reminded me of the movie ‘The Wrestler’ starring Mickey Rourke from a few years ago. (more…)
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 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.
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…)
It’s also my ‘go to’ escape when I’m sparring with tough training partners…
And to top it off, this technique works with the gi, without the gi, and in MMA! (more…)
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…)
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 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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)