Anyone in my age group will understand how it came to be that the first martial art I fell in love was ninjutsu.
Ninjas were everywhere those days, and what could be better than sneaking around wearing black, throwing smoke bombs, and building booby traps?
Of course I too was determined to become a ninja, but first I needed the gear. I asked, begged, pleaded my parents to be given the tools of the trade (black outfit, sword, split toed sandals, all that good stuff), but unfortunately my mind control techniques weren’t up to snuff and I received no help from them.
For some reason my long suffering parents had their doubts that throwing stars and poisoned blow darts were good toys for their rambunctious 8 year old son. Plus any ninja clans operating in the Greater Toronto Area were too well hidden for me to find them, especially since I was still almost a decade shy of testing for my driver’s license.
So my dreams of living a life in the shadows were crushed at an early age (more…)
I know I’ve been lucky, but most of my martial arts instructors have encouraged questions.
For example, my BJJ coach, Marcus Soares, is known for his killer conditioning sessions (‘warmups,’ he calls them…).
But right after putting his class through hell he always starts the technical part of class by asking, “Are there any questions.” He then takes time to answer each and every question, regardless of whether it applies to BJJ, MMA or self defense. (more…)
Stephan: I’m here today with my friend, Adam Singer, who runs The HardCore Gym in Athens, Georgia. He is probably best known for being Forrest Griffin’s MMA coach during the formative years of Forrest’s career. He’s also a jiu-jitsu black belt and has trained tons of fighters.
I’m really looking forward to picking his brain about MMA and jiu-jitsu and the relationship between these things. He’s an outspoken guy, so I’m sure we’ll have a good conversation. (more…)
The omoplata armlock is one of the heavy hitters in the jiu-jitsu arsenal. It’s a very effective submission in its own right, but it also sets up many other submissions and can be used to sweep an opponent.
Here’s a 3 1/2 minute video breakdown of a high percentage omoplata entry from Spider Guard. (more…)
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…)
The X Guard is a hybrid open guard / half guard position, first popularized by Marcelo Garcia.
There are a million sweeps, finishes, and follow-ups from the X Guard. Everything from kneebars and omoplatas, to fancy upside-down backwards flipping sweeps, to techniques that take you directly to rear mount.
But I don’t suggest starting with any of these techniques… (more…)
Regardless of whether you want to add this modern BJJ inverted spinning stuff to your own personal repertoire or not, you should still know how to counter this position.
But even if you don’t use the Reverse de la Riva Guard yourself, the chances are still good that you’ll eventually run into someone who does. And when that happens hopefully you have an answer that allows you to counter the most common attacks from the RDLR, and then work directly into a guard pass. (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…)
This is a video from the archives that I shot with my friend and training partner at Infighting MMA in downtown Vancouver.
Infighting has since moved into a much nicer, larger facility, but the information in this video is still 100% valid. It’s all about the ‘dirty boxing’ techniques that are technically illegal in boxing but still end up deciding fights all the time. (more…)
My friend Ritchie Yip really nails it in this video.
Ultimately it’s not about winning tournaments, triangle choking a mugger in an alley, or being king of the dojo. It’s about developing the strength, the fortitude and – dare I say it – character that will serve you for the rest of your whole life in any field of endeavour. (more…)
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…)
Chances are that the armbar from guard is one of the first techniques you ever learned in BJJ.
In fact the closed guard armbar is one of those fundamental techniques that results in submissions every day at every BJJ school in the world (in fact it’s the fifth most popular submission in a poll of 533 Grapplearts readers).
But just because you learned it early in your career, and just because you’ve been practising it for a long time, doesn’t mean that you can’t make it better! (more…)
The half guard is a sophisticated tool in the grappler’s toolbox that can be used to defend, sweep your opponents, or submit them outright.
But just because you’ve got a hammer doesn’t make the whole world a nail. And that means that you can’t rely on any one guard position as the be-all-and-end-all.
Even if you’re a half guard wizard you’ll still end up facing opponents who know all your tricks, or are particularly gifted at shutting down half guard. (more…)
The Head and Arm choke is a super-powerful submission that works with and without the gi, with and without strikes, in BJJ, Judo, Submission Grappling and Judo.
It’s ended a lot of matches and even put a few people to sleep.
The Head and Arm choke comes from Judo (where it’s known as Kata Gatame) and if you grapple then it’s a technique that you need to know! (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…)
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…)
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 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…)
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…)
Here’s some seriously advanced stuff for you: renowned black belt competitor Joao Miyao breaking down the Ninja Armlock from Berimbolo.