How to Improve Your Hip and Leg Flexibility

Hip and leg flexibility is a huge asset in grappling, especially when it comes to not letting your opponent pass your guard, for launching sneaky sweeps and submissions from the guard position, and for weaseling your way out of tight pins.

Plus if you’re training in MMA, Muay Thai, Karate, Kickboxing, or any other martial art that involves kicking then flexibility will obviously help you out there as well. (more…)

Inflexible, Stiff Back? Try This Workout...

There’s almost nothing worse than a painful back. Unlike other body parts, an injury to your back comes to define your entire life.

If your arm is strained, or you’ve twisted your knee, or if you’ve tweaked your shoulder, then usually you can find a way to get through your day without aggravating your injury too much. But a sore back finds a way to haunt you every second of every day. (more…)

The Difference Between the Brabo Choke and the Anaconda Choke... Plus Tips for Both

I recently received the following question about the Brabo and Anaconda chokes from a reader of the Grapplearts Newsletter:

Hi Stephan, I’ve been training in BJJ for about a year. In no gi training I really like chokes, but I still get confused sometimes: what is the difference between the Anaconda Choke and the Brabo Choke? I get my hand positioning all messed up every time I try either of these techniques…”
(more…)

Fifty Ways to Improve Your Grappling Almost Immediately

Sometimes the best way to get better is simply to stop doing things wrong.

Over the years I’ve shot quite a few guerilla-style videos breaking down many of the most common mistakes that I see for different positions and submissions. (more…)

How to Stop Your Opponent from Turtling During Your Guard Pass

I was recently asked the following question:

“Hi Stephan, My biggest problem on the mats right now is people turtling and going to their to knees when I’m about to pass their guard. Once they’re in turtle they either roll back to guard or stand up and all the hard work I did to pass their guard is for nothing. (more…)

How to Salvage a Failed Butterfly Guard Sweep

The ‘basic’ butterfly guard sweep is one of the most strongest sweeps in grappling. That’s why it shows up again and again at the highest levels of competition.  It’s powerful, reliable, and works for a wide range of body types.  It works with and without the gi, on bigger people, smaller people, wrestlers, and judoka.

This combination of power and versatility makes the butterfly guard sweep one of my favorite go-to moves of all time! (more…)

20,000 lbs of snow and the true meaning of self defense...

This is a rather rambling post; in the words of Mark Twain, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

First, and most importantly, I really hope that you had a great Christmas (or alternate celebration of your choice).  And that you got to spend time with friends, family and loved ones.

Next, congratulations on surviving the Mayan Calendar Apocalypse!  (more…)

What Champion Bodybuilder Kai Greene Can Teach You About BJJ

An old training partner sent me a short email yesterday. Here’s what it said:

“I know you have a paucity of spare time – but this video of pro bodybuilder Kai Greene is GREAT!  His plain speaking talk about self discipline and mastering fundamentals to achieve excellence is probably the best I have heard. I think you will enjoy this.”

(more…)

Hidden Techniques for Maintaining Rear Mount

When people teach the rear mount they often show you how to get your hooks in to achieve the rear mount, and then they teach you a couple of submissions from the back.

Their idealized flowchart has two steps:

  1. Get your hooks in,
  2. Submit your opponent.

Oh, if only life were so simple!

(more…)

No Gi Guard Passing Strategies vs. Bigger People

Passing the guard in a technical manner during no gi training can often be very frustrating, especially for people coming from a gi-based background.  To the uninitiated it just seems that things move too fast… That there aren’t any good handles to control your opponent… (more…)

Ambush Armbar from Modified Scarf Hold

I might not be 100% correct with the actual wording, but I’ll always remember this fantastic quote from Karate legend Bill ‘Superfoot’ Wallace which I read in Black Belt magazine many years ago.  It went something like this:

“There’s always going to be someone bigger, stronger or faster than you, but there never has to be anyone sneakier than you!”
(more…)

How to Counter the Backstep Guard Pass

BJJ and submission grappling are in a continual state of evolution.  New techniques, tactics and strategies emerge, or are rediscovered, or are brought into the art all the time.

The backstep guard pass is one such modern technique.  You won’t see this guard pass in old-school BJJ (more…)

How to Pass Deep Half Guard

In the last 5 years the Deep Half Guard position has taken the BJJ and submission grappling world by storm.  And every serious grappler now needs to know how to neutralize and pass the Deep Half Guard.

This position is a variation of the half guard.  If someone manages to get settled into this position underneath you then they’re right under your center of gravity, can compromise your balance, and very likely be able sweep you or take your back with a wide variety of techniques. (more…)

How to set up and apply the head and arm choke

Here’s a clip of Emily Kwok teaching something really cool – how to set up the head and arm choke (also known as ‘kata gatame’) from mount, and then how to ratchet it on so tightly that your opponent has no choice but to tap out, no matter how big he is. (more…)

A Surprising Way to Pull Guard...

Should you pull guard in competition?  And if you decide to pull guard, then how do you do it correctly?

In a certain sense, I am uniquely unqualified to answer these questions…

You see, much of my BJJ comes from 8th degree black belt Marcus Soares, and Marcus is very much from the old-school Carlson Gracie way of doing things. (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…)

Roy Dean: BJJ, Aikido, Judo, Wrestling, and the Martial Artist's Path

You can listen to, read, or download this interview in several different ways…

  1. Hit play in the middle of the audio player 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…)