BJJ Self Defense Part 1: Proximity, Panic and Claustrophobia

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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. … [Read more...]

How to Open a Stubborn Closed Guard

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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, … [Read more...]

Redemption from Kung Fu Foolishness

Philip Gelinas

Anyone in my age group will understand how it came to be that the first martial art I fell in love was ninjutsu. Ninjas were everywhere those days, and what could be better than sneaking around wearing black, throwing smoke bombs, and building booby traps? Of course I too was determined to become a ninja, but first I needed the gear.  I asked, begged, pleaded my parents to be given the tools … [Read more...]

Why Don’t More BJJ Students Ask Questions?

Stephan Teaching a Jiu-Jitsu seminar

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, … [Read more...]

Adam Singer on Modern MMA Training and Competition

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Stephan: I’m here today with my friend, Adam Singer, who runs The HardCore Gym in Athens, Georgia.  He is probably best known for being Forrest Griffin’s MMA coach during the formative years of Forrest’s career. He’s also a jiu-jitsu black belt and has trained tons of fighters. I’m really looking forward to picking his brain about MMA and jiu-jitsu and the relationship between these things. … [Read more...]

High Percentage Omoplata Setup from Spider Guard

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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. … [Read more...]

The Answer is Out There!

Stephan Teaching a Jiu-Jitsu seminar

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 … [Read more...]

Try This First When You’re in X Guard

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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... … [Read more...]

Countering and Passing Reverse de la Riva Guard

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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 … [Read more...]

A Dirty Boxing Breakdown

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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. … [Read more...]

Why You (and Everyone Else) Should Train BJJ

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My friend Ritchie Yip really nails it in this video. Ultimately it's not about winning tournaments, triangle choking a mugger in an alley, or being king of the dojo. It's about developing the strength, the fortitude and - dare I say it - character that will serve you for the rest of your whole life in any field of endeavour. … [Read more...]

Some Tweaks for Tightening the Armbar from Closed Guard

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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 … [Read more...]

How to Transition from Half to Closed Guard

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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 … [Read more...]

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

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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! … [Read more...]

Why Talent is Way Overrated

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So I'm touring Casa Loma recently, the famous castle in downtown Toronto and the largest private residence ever constructed in Canada. Just the usual touristic wandering of the halls, climbing the turrets, and exploring the never-ending parade of lavishly decorated rooms. All of a sudden I heard something beautiful drifting through the marble and hardwood hallways. … [Read more...]

How to Pass ‘Worm Guard’

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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 … [Read more...]

Takedowns for People Who Don’t Do Takedowns…

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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. … [Read more...]

How To Do the Cartwheel Guard Pass

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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. … [Read more...]

3 Ways to Deal With Injuries in BJJ

BJJ Injuries

I'm not going to pretend that injuries don't suck.  They do. There have been many great athletic careers cut short by injury.  Many people who would otherwise have been great have had their dreams derailed when a bone went 'crack' or a ligament went 'snap' and then never quite recovered. The typical reaction of the BJJ addict when they get injured is, 'Oh no, now I can't train.' … [Read more...]

The Two Highest Percentage Leglocks vs. de la Riva Guard

The Highest Percentage Leglocks to Use 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 … [Read more...]

How to Build Self Confidence in BJJ

Stephan-in-BJJ-Gi

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 … [Read more...]

A Jedi Mind Trick for Passing Butterfly Guard

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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. … [Read more...]