A Fast and Simple Butterfly Guard Sweep

Jiu-jitsu doesn’t always need to be complicated. In fact, sometimes the best solution is also the simplest, most direct solution.

Consider a situation where your opponent is in your guard but is refusing to engage you in any meaningful way. Maybe he’s ahead on points and is trying to coast for the rest of the match, or maybe he just wants the satisfaction of being able to say that you didn’t catch him in anything.

Anyway, in this situation he’s sitting back on his heels and defensively gripfighting like crazy any time you try to lay hands on him. (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…)

Shutting Down the Guard Pass

It’s called ‘rolling’ for a reason: if you’re doing BJJ then you’re going to be somersaulting all over the place.  And there are three types of rolls that you encounter all the time on the mats:

  1. The forward roll,
  2. The backwards roll
  3. The side roll

In the video below BJJ world champion Brandon ‘Wolverine’ Mullins shows how you can use the third movement – the side roll – to defend against a very common and otherwise difficult-to-deal-with style of guard pass.   (more…)

The Easiest Way to Develop Fast Guard Sweeps

Speed kills!  When it comes to blowing through your opponent’s defenses there’s nothing like being just a little bit faster than him.  That way you’re always a step or two ahead, and he never has the chance to catch up.

But how exactly do you do this?

Well, have you ever heard of something called Hick’s Law?  It’s an idea that comes from academic research, and has been applied to areas as diverse as computer interface design and analysing online dating.  But it’s also super-relevant to jiu-jitsu! (more…)

How to Not Get Slammed in Your Closed Guard or Triangle Choke

Getting picked up and slammed when you’ve got your opponent in the closed guard is one of the most dangerous things that can happen to you in grappling.

It’s definitely a legitimate technique for big and strong guys to use. And in MMA and self defense slamming an opponent is one of the best ways to open the guard, or to escape a tight triangle choke.

Getting power-bombed and then and having your opponent’s weight land on you always hurts. Especially if your opponent is bigger than you are, which is usually the case if he can lift you up. (more…)

Rodolfo Vieira Pressure Guard Passing

When it comes to passing the guard you basically have two options: pass with speed, or pass with pressure.

Speed-based guard passes typically rely on creating some distance between you and your opponent, getting some kind of control on his feet or legs, and then blasting your way past your legs with some quickly manoeuvring. The ‘Toreando’ pass and its variations would be classic examples of speed-based passing.

In pressure-based passing you incrementally gain control over more and more of your opponent’s body until you slowly edge your way past his guard. (more…)

How NOT to Get Triangle Choked While Passing the Guard

The very first guard pass I learned was the stacking guard pass (also known as the smashing guard pass or sometimes the ‘over under’ pass).

Initially I was doing this pass all wrong, and I can’t even begin to count how many times I got triangle choked trying it. But eventually I learned a few tweaks that made it much harder for my opponents to apply the triangle choke, and now it’s one of my bread and butter guard passes. (more…)

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…)

How to Open a Stubborn Closed Guard

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…)

Try This First When You're in X Guard

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…)

Countering and Passing Reverse de la Riva Guard

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…)

A Dirty Boxing Breakdown

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…)

Some Tweaks for Tightening the Armbar from Closed Guard

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…)

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…)

How to Do the Head and Arm Choke (aka 'Kata Gatame')

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…)

How to Pass 'Worm Guard'

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…)

Takedowns for People Who Don't Do Takedowns...

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…)

How To Do the Cartwheel Guard Pass

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 Two Highest Percentage Leglocks vs. de la Riva Guard

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…)