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…)
If you’ve trained BJJ for any length of time then you’ve probably come to the conclusion that mastering this art is more of a marathon than a short sprint.
And you’re right!
There’s a LOT to learn and a LOT to get good at in this sport. That’s why a black belt takes so bloody long! (more…)
There’s a useful phrase that my friend and champion competitor Brandon ‘Wolverine’ Mullins uses all the time…
“Correct the position.”
Let’s say you launch your opponent through the air with an absolutely perfect butterfly guard sweep. He lands flat on his back, and you race to the top and get to sidemount. (more…)
An article by Mark Mullen
Most students of Brazilian jiu-jitsu are aware that the origins of modern day BJJ came from Japanese judoka Mitsuyo Maeda who was one of the earliest of Jigoro Kano’s members at the Kodokan.
Since those early days, Brazilian jiu-jitsu has evolved significantly and now Olympic style judo and sport BJJ have diverged into their own sports.
The rules governing IBJJF competition differ from those of Olympic judo requiring different strategies by the competitors and consequently a different emphasis on techniques. (more…)
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…)
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….
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…)
It’s easy to get sidetracked in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Whether it’s the Worm Guard, the Berimbolo attack or some crazy submission, there’s always the temptation to train the latest, greatest technique to the exclusion of all other moves.
I’m actually OK with some degree of shiny object syndrome. (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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
There’s never been a better time to get better at BJJ.
A sixteenth century samurai who wanted to improve his duelling skills had relatively limited options. If he put up with enough hazing and character testing then, maybe, his sensei would eventually decide to teach him some good stuff. And hopefully he would have learned some things by watching, or participating in, the occasional sword fight. (more…)
In recent years the X Guard has become one of the bread and butter positions in the open guard repertoire. It’s an incredibly powerful position, both in gi and no gi grappling (click here for an intro to the X Guard).
There are a ton of great techniques, sweeps, and drills that revolve around the X guard, but today I want to share a new drill with you that I recently learned from Clark Gracie in the basement of a friend’s house. (more…)
by Mark Mullen
A few weeks back I penned an article called “What Do Whitebelts Need To Learn In Their 1st Year of BJJ?“. That prompted a few people to request a discussion of the next step in the BJJ journey: Bluebelt.
If we think of the whitebelt as a time of fleshing out the skeleton of the positional hierarchy and learning the mechanics of basic techniques, I would sum up the Bluebelt as a time of experimentation. (more…)
Sometimes the best way to really understand something is to teach it. When it comes to jiu-jitsu, breaking a technique down into steps (not too many, not too few) and finding the best way to convey the underlying principles often helps clarify things in your mind.
I’ve been doing a lot of this with the berimbolo sweep recently. (more…)
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.
I often get questions from BJJ and submission grappling practitioners about whether they can benefit from doing additional drills at home. Often the people asking these questions are either extremely time-constrained and can’t make it to the class as often as they would like. Or they are just very serious students of the art and want to improve as fast as humanly possible.
My answer is that there ARE a lot of solo movement drills in BJJ. And yes, drilling can sometimes be very, very helpful. (more…)
The next generation of instructional Android apps have finally arrived!
As evidenced by the fact that I slept about 2 hours last night, and now I’m in front of my computer AGAIN, it’s taken a TON of development and testing to get here…
But today we’re releasing the first Android app in the ‘How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent’ series with myself and black belt world champion Emily Kwok.
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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…)