How To Do the Cartwheel Guard Pass

The cartwheel guard pass is one of the most spectacular guard passes out there. But it’s not as difficult to do as you might think.

In the video below I show you an easy four step progression, including some drills you can do on your own, to incorporate this exciting move into your repertoire. (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…)

The Two Highest Percentage Leglocks vs. de la Riva Guard

The de la Riva guard has exploded in popularity in recent years. Since it was popularised by Ricardo de la Riva there have always been sweeps and submission available from this position but the ascent of the berimbolo (a spinning-and-upside-down method of taking the back) has made it even more popular among the BJJ competition crowd.

So even if you never ever plan to use this style guard yourself you need to have some answers to it, because you WILL run into it. (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…)

Joao Miyao teaching the Ninja Armlock from Berimbolo

Here’s some seriously advanced stuff for you: renowned black belt competitor Joao Miyao breaking down the Ninja Armlock from Berimbolo.

In the exclusive Grapplearts Field Reports Video Miyao uses his bread and butter move – the Berimbolo sweep – from the leg lasso position to spin into an unexpected and hard to defend armbar. (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 Evolution of BJJ (Plus Some Crazy Stories) with Scott Nelson

We’ve just released the latest episode of the Grapplearts Radio Podcast!

This time I talk to Scott Nelson from On The Mat.  Scott is a North American jiu-jitsu pioneer who was one of the very first guys to travel to Brazil to train in the motherland of the art. He was also one of the first guys to run a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu website (I remember visiting it back in the dial-up modem days!)

Scott has had some pretty crazy adventures along the way, (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…)

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…)

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…)