The Danger of All-Or-Nothing Thinking...

In life it’s funny what ends up making a lasting impression on you. An offhand comment can stick with you for years and years, and have an effect way beyond anything the original person intended.

There’s a phrase like that that pops up in my mind often when I’m thinking about BJJ.  But it originated in a very different place.

In fact this comment got stuck in my brain more than 20 years ago when I was taking a biochemistry class at McGill University of all places… (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 Answer is Out There!

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…)

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…)

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…)

How to Incorporate a New Technique into Your Arsenal

Incorporating a new move into your sparring and competition repertoire can be tricky. Too many people go and and try their nifty new technique on everybody right away, hoping that it will work at least some of the time. But this may not actually be the best way to do it.

In fact, this scattershot method, and not having a concrete plan for rolling out new moves, can even be counterproductive… (more…)

Self Defense, Competition, and Performing In High Pressure Situations

Performance under pressure is always tricky.  In fact a lot of martial arts practitioners worry about whether they’d actually be able to execute their skills in super-stressful situations.

Of course competing at a tournament or performing at belt tests can be stressful.  But the scariest high pressure situation of all is a self defence scenario where you and/or your family is being threatened.

If push were to come to shove and you actually had to defend yourself could you actually use your skills?  Or are you worried that your mind might turn to mush in the heat of the moment… (more…)

Crowdsourcing Your BJJ

There’s never been a better time to get better at BJJ.

A sixteenth century samurai who wanted to improve his duelling skills had relatively limited options.  If he put up with enough hazing and character testing then, maybe, his sensei would eventually decide to teach him some good stuff. And hopefully he would have learned some things by watching, or participating in, the occasional sword fight. (more…)

New to Jiu Jitsu? You’ll need a lot of this…

The following guest post is written by Laurie Berenson. She comes to BJJ from a background of training in Muay Thai. I really like her attitude so I invited her to put pen to paper and share her perspective with us. She is currently studying under black belts William Stevens and Casey Van Brookhoven at Stevens Martial Arts in New Jersey, USA.

When Stephan Kesting asked if I’d consider writing a guest post for grapplearts.com from the beginner’s perspective. I immediately balked at the idea. What could I speak to as a white belt? Not much! But I do know that one of the single biggest things jiu jitsu has taught me so far is to have patience… (more…)

A Cool X Guard Drill and Sweep

In recent years the X Guard has become one of the bread and butter positions in the open guard repertoire. It’s an incredibly powerful position, both in gi and no gi grappling (click here for an intro to the X Guard).

There are a ton of great techniques, sweeps, and drills that revolve around the X guard, but today I want to share a new drill with you that I recently learned from Clark Gracie in the basement of a friend’s house. (more…)

What Should A Blue Belt Concentrate On In Training?

by Mark Mullen

A few weeks back I penned an article called “What Do Whitebelts Need To Learn In Their 1st Year of BJJ?“. That prompted a few people to request a discussion of the next step in the BJJ journey: Bluebelt.

If we think of the whitebelt as a time of fleshing out the skeleton of the positional hierarchy and learning the mechanics of basic techniques, I would sum up the Bluebelt as a time of experimentation. (more…)

Question: My Mind Goes Blank During Sparring...

—————————— QUESTION ——————————

Hi Stephan,

First of all, I want to thank you for creating your instructional apps and having these frequent tips/newsletters.   They have really helped me to get started in BJJ.  Even though I have been signed up to receive your emails for a while now I have only just begun my training.   (more…)

Rafael Lovato Jr. on Training and Competing in BJJ

This is a great interview with BJJ competition legend Rafael Lovato Jr.  You can listen to, read, or download this interview in several different ways…

  1. Play the audio-only Youtube video 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…)

Burton Richardson on Training and Performing under Pressure

Stephan’s note: today I interview Burton Richardson who has spent decades researching the training methods that make martial arts techniques practical, reliable, and functional.  His approach is very applicable to street self defence, but is equally valid for anyone wanting to compete. (more…)

BJJ Lessons from a Sushi Master

I just watched a really cool documentary called Jiro Dreams of Sushi (available on Netflix, iTunes, etc.).  This 2011 film paints a fascinating portrait of Jiro Ono, an 85 year old master chef who’s been making sushi for 75 years.

Jiro – the protagonist – is a single-minded perfectionist workaholic who hates national holidays because they keep him away from his obsession,  which is working on creating the perfect sushi experience for his customers. (more…)

Roadmap for BJJ Package Now Available Again!

A few years ago I released the Roadmap for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructional package.

This is a multi-component product that focuses on the strategies, tactics, techniques and training methods of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It’s basically a quick start guide for how to get good on the ground as fast as possible. (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…)

BJJ Training Strategies

Having the right assortment of techniques is pretty darn important in BJJ. But having the right training strategies is even more important…

By ‘training strategies’ I’m talking about the big picture. Like knowing which techniques to use, when to use them, and how to correctly train those techniques in the first place. (more…)

BJJ Competition and Training Strategies with Brandon 'Wolverine' Mullins

In this interview 2 x World No Gi Champion Brandon ‘Wolverine’ Mullins shares his best competition and training advice.  The questions come from my newsletter readership, who I polled to see if they had any questions for Brandon, especially about training, competing or holding their own against bigger opponents. Boy, did they ever!

We then sifted and sorted hundreds of emails to pick out the very best questions for him, and this in-depth conversation was the result. Maybe one of my best interviews ever! (more…)