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…)
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…)
Passing the guard and establishing a stable position is maybe the single hardest thing to do in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
You can know a ton of guard passing techniques, but what if you’re in the Closed Guard and can’t start your pass because your opponent absolutely refuses to open up his legs. He just keeps you in his guard with his ankles crossed and wears you down with his wickedly strong legs, relentless attacks, and incredible determination to never-ever uncross his ankles. (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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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…)
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.
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 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.
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…)
It’s also my ‘go to’ escape when I’m sparring with tough training partners…
And to top it off, this technique works with the gi, without the gi, and in MMA! (more…)
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 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…)