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 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…)

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…)

Crowdsourcing Your BJJ

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…)

A Cool X Guard Drill and Sweep

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…)

What Should A Blue Belt Concentrate On In Training?

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…)

The 3 Steps of Berimbolo

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…)

What Do White Belts Need to Learn in Their 1st Year of BJJ?

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.

(more…)

Home Drilling for BJJ Skill Development

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 Android BJJ Apps Are Finally Here!

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.

(more…)

Question: My Mind Goes Blank During Sparring...

—————————— QUESTION ——————————

Hi Stephan,

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…)

Rafael Lovato Jr. on Training and Competing in BJJ

This is a great interview with BJJ competition legend Rafael Lovato Jr.  You can listen to, read, or download this interview in several different ways…

  1. Play the audio-only Youtube video at the bottom of this list, and/or
  2. Right click on this link and select ‘save as’ to download this mp3 file to your computer, and/or
  3. Subscribe to the Grapplearts Podcast in iTunes (RECOMMENDED, because this allows you to also listen to previous interviews and podcasts), and/or
  4. Read the transcript below. (more…)

Tap Out Less Often! The 'Submission Defense' App for Android...

After a ton of planning and working with video editors and Android app programers, I’m thrilled to announce that Submission Defense – the latest Grapplearts app for the Android platform – is finally ready!!

This app was designed with one single-minded purpose: to help you tap out much less often. (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…)

How to Train BJJ, even with an Injured Arm (Drill)

This article and video are about how to train and continue to make progress in BJJ when you’re dealing with an arm injury.

Now I hope that you go through your entire BJJ career without ever suffering a single injury. But this is a contact sport, and therefore you’re probably going to get a little banged up from time to time. (more…)

A reader writes: Hi Stephan, I’ve been doing BJJ for about 6 months and am wondering if you have any advice about what to do when you’re starting on the knees?

I find that most wrestling-style takedowns are very difficult to do from the knees, especially because my opponents are really good at sprawling. (more…)

How to Defeat a Smaller Opponent

Smaller opponents can become big nuisances, especially if they have legitimate skills.

You would think that the very fact that you’re bigger than your opponent means you should be able to go full-Conan on them every time…

Mongol General: “Conan! What is best in life?

Conan: “To crush your enemies, see them driffen before you, and to hear the lamentation of their vimmen.(more…)

A Fancy-Pants Z Guard Pass that Never Worked Until...

There’s this one impressive, fancy-pants guard pass that I’ve seen in competition many times. It makes everybody go ‘oooh’ and ‘aaaah’, but despite its dramatic nature it’s undeniably effective and has won a LOT of matches at the highest levels of competition.

I tried to imitate this technique, of course, but it was always a complete disaster. I never managed to figure out exactly what these high-level guys were doing. (more…)

BJJ Training Strategies

Having the right assortment of techniques is pretty darn important in BJJ. But having the right training strategies is even more important…

By ‘training strategies’ I’m talking about the big picture. Like knowing which techniques to use, when to use them, and how to correctly train those techniques in the first place. (more…)