Techniques Straight From Brazil

Recently I published an article on my blog by one of my very first BJJ training partners, Mark Mullen, talking about the private lessons he, as a black belt, took when he was in Brazil.

Almost as an aside Mark mentioned that he had received permission to film some of his private lessons.

Since then quite a few people have gotten in touch with me to ask what they would have to do to see the video footage of these lessons… (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…)

A Sneaky Armbar Escape

The armbar escape in the video below is one of my favourite armbar defenses. I like it because it’s simple and effective against a wide variety of grapplers, but also because of the reaction it gets from people who were oh-so-close to armbarring you.

They’ll either laugh or swear out loud after you get out; either reaction is pretty gratifying! (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…)

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…)

How to Defeat The Judo-Style Rolling Armbar

Love her or hate her, Ronda Rousey is an armbar machine.  At UFC 168 she defeated Meisha Tate with her eighth armbar in eight MMA fights.  This armbar streak is an amazing achievement, and a lot of people (including a lot of people who don’t actually train) have been asking me how to counter this attack.

I was thinking about doing this but it turns out that someone beat me to it. (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…)

Clark Gracie Shares Some Rear Naked Choke Tips

I recently did a podcast interview with Clark Gracie at a friend’s house.  After the interview we were talking about the rear naked choke and I realised two things: A) my friend had mats, and B) I had a camera in the car.

This was a great opportunity to pick his mind some more, so we quickly set up shop and Clark shared some really great tips about setting up and amplifying the power of the rear naked choke,  (or ‘Mata leão’ in Portugese). (more…)

3 Ways to Safely Control an Opponent on the Ground for Self Defense.

Reverse lapeloplatas and inside-out upside-down berimbolos might be fun to train and effective for some guys in high level competition, but at its core Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is a martial art. So once in a while we need to regroup, refocus, and give some thought to what parts of the art we would use in a real self defense situation. (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…)

A Reverse de la Riva Guard Tutorial

The de la Riva guard is an open guard position in which you entangle one of your opponent’s legs with your own leg.  It was popularised years ago by Ricardo de la Riva, and has since become a staple of gi and no gi jiu-jitsu.

But a related position, the Reverse de la Riva guard, is still a mystery to many grapplers… (more…)

At the bottom of this post is a Youtube video I just created to show the easiest way to do the Berimbolo.

Now if you’re a Berimbolo aficionado then you’ve probably already scrolled down. But maybe you’re on the fence about this move. Or maybe you don’t even know what it is and why you should care about it.

Well, give me a minute to put it into context for you… (more…)

The Omoplata vs the Marceloplata vs the Baratoplata

Here’s a 12 minute tutorial I just put out breaking down two really cool variations of the Omoplata armlock which is one of my all-time favourite techniques.

The first variation is called the ‘Marceloplata’ – it’s named after superstar grappler Marcelo Garcia who popularised this technique.  The Marceloplata is a great option to use when you’ve almost finalised a regular Omoplata but your opponent has managed to stall your attack by locking down one of your legs.

(more…)

How to Counter the Cross-Collar Grip

When you’re in your opponent’s guard one of the most annoying things he can do is secure a really good cross-collar grip on you.  True, this grip doesn’t have much utility for MMA or no-gi training (in fact being too reliant on it can create some really bad habits for when the gi comes off), but in BJJ the cross-collar grip is a serious problem.

When your opponent snags a cross collar grip on you it’s important to deal with it immediately!  First of all, against someone who is a collar choke expert, a single deep grip on your lapel puts you into extreme danger… (more…)

A Easy Way to Stay Out of Trouble in the Guard

Posture, posture, posture… Everyone talks about posture as THE solution to staying out of trouble in the guard. Every guard pass ever taught starts out with, “First, make posture in the guard.”

But the trouble is that your opponent knows this too. If you’re in his closed guard, and if posture is good for you, then posture is bad for him. So guess what? He’ll work like crazy to disrupt, destroy, and break down your posture whenever he’s got you in the closed guard.

(more…)

How to Maintain Good Posture in Butterfly Guard

Posture in the butterfly guard is incredibly important.  With the butterfly guard (as with any guard position) good posture is the key to defending the guard pass, attacking with submissions, and/or sweeping your opponent.

But maintaining good posture is easier said than done,

(more…)

How to Stabilise Mount Against a Bigger, Stronger Opponent

Many smaller grapplers avoid the mount position because they feel it’s too easy for a larger opponent to simply throw them off or roll them to the bottom. It usually takes a TON of work to get to the mount, and it really sucks when some big doofus simply sits up and rolls you to the bottom where you have to start all over again! (more…)

The Most Powerful Kneebar

Part of the problem with leglocks is that there are tons of  variations.  And too many options create confusion, increase your decision-making time, and lead to paralysis by analysis, so it really helps to have someone set you straight and narrow down your choices.

But for some reason certain leglock aficionados love to collect endless leglock variations.

(more…)

How to Maintain Rear Mount, Improve Guillotines, and Thwart 'Combatives' Experts

Rear mount seems like such a simple position: I mean, you’re basically just piggybacking on your opponent, right?

Well, success in jiu-jitsu usually means doing simple, fundamental things with a high degree of sophistication and attention to detail. And rear mount is no different – switch your grip by a couple of inches, have your hand open instead of closed, do the wrong thing for even a moment and the whole thing goes straight to hell! (more…)