How to Adjust Your Triangle for Maximum Tightness and Effectiveness

Some techniques just require a bit more tweaking than others…

For example, when I was a whitebelt the armbar was fairly easy to learn.  The triangle choke, on the other hand, was relatively easy to apply, but hard to finish, (which was very frustrating).

It took a lot of experimentation, coaching and adjusting before I was able to successfully choke out even cooperating, non-resisting partners with the triangle. (more…)

How to Build a BJJ Gameplan

Here’s a really cool video interview I did with my friend, BJJ blackbelt, renowned coach, and fierce competitor Elliott Bayev.

This interview is special because we break down the steps of building a BJJ gameplan.  We go right from the basic BJJ self defense gameplan, and build up to the intricate strategies used by world class competitors.

There are tons of immediately useful takeaways here.

Along the way we also discuss self defense, the role of competition, and the evolution of new techniques and positions in BJJ.

This should really help you formulate your own gameplans.

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How to React Without Thinking

What Bruce Lee and Malcolm Gladwell Taught Me About Mushin (or the Art of No-Mind and Executing the Perfect Technique),

Bruce Lee and Malcom Gladwell agree with Mark Mullen.  Sometimes things just happen too quickly to use conscious thought.

Sometimes you just need to forget about thought and simply react to the situation. (more…)

Don't Panic, This is Normal!

I often hear from people distraught about some area of their jiu-jitsu lagging behind.

It might be their sweeps from the closed guard, their submissions from side mount, their escapes from rear mount, or their butterfly guard passes, but in that that one specific area they’re just not as good at as they should be.

Here’s the thing though: there will ALWAYS be areas where you are lagging behind! (more…)

Grappling Machine T Shirts, Only Available For 7 Days

Here’s something that some of you will love, and some of you will hate…

It’s a brand new limited edition steampunk-style Grapplearts T-shirt: the ‘Grappling Machine’ design.

No Affliction-style skulls, pitbulls, grim reapers or upside-down crosses in this design, sorry!

We did a small test run of this design, and the few lucky people who got their hands on one of them loved it. (more…)

What's the Best Conditioning for BJJ?

I often get asked about the best kind of conditioning for BJJ and MMA.

People want to know what’s better: running vs swimming, circuit training vs powerlifting, crossfit vs bodybuilding, sprints vs extended cardio, kettlebells vs dumbbells, bodyweight exercises vs barbells..

Having done quite a bit of strength and conditioning over the last 20 years I actually do have some definite opinions about these topics. But the thing is that my opinions apply only to me.

You have to figure out what works for you by trial and error. (more…)

A Super Sneaky and Slick Triangle Choke Attack!

This is one of the sneakiest, slickest submission attacks I have ever seen.

The first time I saw this technique was when BJJ world champion Brandon ‘Wolverine’ Mullins used it at the IBJJF European Championships in 2013.

At first I just didn’t understand what I had seen.  One minute his opponent was in the X Guard, and the next he was tapping out from a super-tight triangle choke.  I had to watch it a bunch of times to even begin to figure out what had happened. (more…)

Should You Correct Your Weaknesses or Focus on Your Strengths?

This is an article by longtime Grapplearts contributor and BJJ Black Belt Mark Mullen.

A question I always ask when I discuss jiu-jitsu with senior black belts is, “In developing your game is it better to develop your strengths, or to focus on weaknesses in order to correct them?”  

The simplest form of this question is about developing your top game vs your bottom game in BJJ. (more…)

Brandon 'Wolverine' Mullins on BJJ Training, Competition, Transitions and Evolution

I’ve got a super cool, super informative interview for you today!

This is the first time in Grapplearts history that I’ve interviewed a person for a second time.  But boy, did my friend, BJJ black belt, and fierce competitor Brandon ‘Wolverine’ Mullins ever deliver! (click here for the first interview).

(Brandon and I originally worked together to create the highly acclaimed instructional How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent Volume 2.)

In today’s interview Brandon and I discuss a TON of stuff, including,

  • Life and death on the seminar circuit,
  • What changes you need to make to your guard to transition from gi to no-gi,
  • How to connect moves together to make a smooth and fluid game,
  • The evolution of jiu-jitsu, including the new positions and strategies that are continuously changing the sport,
  • Why you always need to pushing to improve your position even when you’re ahead on points. (more…)

Judo for BJJ

An article by Mark Mullen

Most students of Brazilian jiu-jitsu are aware that the origins of modern day BJJ came from Japanese judoka Mitsuyo Maeda who was one of the earliest of Jigoro Kano’s members at the Kodokan.

Since those early days, Brazilian jiu-jitsu has evolved significantly and now Olympic style judo and sport BJJ have diverged into their own sports.

The rules governing IBJJF competition differ from those of Olympic judo requiring different strategies by the competitors and consequently a different emphasis on techniques. (more…)

The FREE Roadmap for BJJ App!

Here’s something brand new that I’ve been working on for a whole year.  It’s available right now and I think you’re really going to like it!!

How would you like a top-to-bottom game plan for the closed guard position?

What about a complete roadmap for the Open Guard?

And while we’re at it, would a game plan for the modern Half Guard help you out? (more…)

BJJ Seminar Disaster!

I once attended a seminar taught by a big name in BJJ (don’t ask me who – my lips are sealed!).

It was in a medium-sized town, but for whatever reason, attendance was terrible.  There were only about 8 people there, myself included.

And it didn’t take very long to figure out that that at least six of the eight attendees were brand new beginners.  We’re talking about never-been-taught-the-armbar-from-the-guard beginners….

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BJJ Self Defense Part 5: Defending the Low Tech (and Deadly) Headlock!

One of single biggest errors you can make when you’re practising a martial art is to assume that everybody else practices that same martial art.

Let me explain that…

Boxers spend 99.9% of their time learning how to fight other boxers. Wrestlers train to attack with, and defend against, wrestling techniques. (more…)

BJJ Self Defense Part 4: The Technical Standup

Today we’re going to look at and learn about one of the most fundamental movements in all of BJJ. It’s the “technical standup,” and make sure that you’re doing it correctly.

The technical standup is used ALL the time in BJJ, submission grappling and MMA.

This exact move can get you out of trouble in scrambles, prevent guard passes, and finish sweeps for you, but first and foremost the technical standup allows you to get back to your feet in a real fight without getting your teeth knocked out… (more…)

BJJ Self Defense Part 3: The Street Guard

If you’ve been reading my emails and training in grappling then, by this point, you’re going to be quite familiar with the guard.

In some ways it’s the iconic BJJ position.

But do you know WHY it’s such an integral part of BJJ? Why do we focus on this position so much? And why would we ever want to be lying on our backs on the pavement in a streetfight? (more…)

BJJ Self Defense Part 2: Escaping the Mount

The first time I ever saw the Mount position was during a schoolyard fight in grade one. One kid pushed the other kid to the ground, climbed on top, sat on his chest in the classic bully position, and then absolutely dominated the fight. He punched and slapped and taunted the other kid who was completely unable to do anything about it until the fight was broken up by the teachers.

The kid on the bottom wasn’t too badly hurt in the end, but only because it’s hard for grade 1 punches to do much actual damage.

The take-home lesson was clear though: he who maintains the Mount wins! (more…)

BJJ Self Defense Part 1: Proximity, Panic and Claustrophobia

This might be a bit controversial but BJJ IS A MARTIAL ART!

That means it’s a fighting method, used for stopping (and possibly hurting) people who are intent on doing you serious harm.

Sure, it’s also a fantastic sport, a fitness method, and a way to challenge yourself. I enjoy it for all those aspects too. But being able to take care of business in the street comes first. (more…)

Why Don't More BJJ Students Ask Questions?

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…)

How to Transition from Half to Closed Guard

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 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 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…)

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…)