The Two Most Important Guard Retention Techniques

high percentage guard retention

Retaining your guard and preventing guard passes can seem like a daunting task. There are so many techniques that your opponent might use to try and pass your guard.  Do you need to learn a different technique to counter each combination and permutation of grips, movement and body positioning you might run into? Not at all.  There may be many different guard passing techniques, but there are … [Read more...]

Butterfly Guard: Get Up, Sit Up, Get Up Off Your Back!

How to sit up and get off your back in butterfly guard

The Butterfly Guard is a very powerful sweeping position where you sit on your butt, leaning slightly forward, with both of your feet inside your opponent's legs (click here for a quick intro to the butterfly guard on However you do NOT want to be flat on your back when you're playing butterfly guard. When you're lying back like that you almost all the power behind your … [Read more...]

The Secret to Getting Your Black Belt

Getting Your Black Belt Pssst, want to become a BJJ black belt? The 'secret' is simple: just don’t quit! Of course, the devil is in the details, which is why this article is more than two lines long... I want to start with the fact that almost everybody can eventually become a black belt, so if you just keep training hard then you’ll probably make it. One my … [Read more...]

How to Train BJJ with an Injured Neck

How to train BJJ with a sore neck

Necks are delicate things.  Seven small stacked cervical vertebrae protecting all the nerves in your spinal cord and held together with a multitude of flimsy ligaments and muscles. Yet in BJJ we stress the neck continuously.  We attack it with chokes, crucifixes, and cranks.  We stack our opponents, turn their heads with crossfaces, and scissor his head with our legs.  We also use our head and … [Read more...]

7 Reasons Martial Artists Should Do Cardio

Bruce Lee - the ultimate martial artist - doing cardio

Today I want to share 7 reasons that all martial artists should do some form of cardio. This article actually started on a great run up my favourite local mountain. During that run, while dodging roots, rocks and puddles, I also spent a lot of time thinking about the direct martial arts benefits people get after they start working on their cardio. After the run, while cooling down and … [Read more...]

Kurt Osiander Interview – the Barbarian of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Kurt Osiander BJJ Interview

I've just released the latest podcast (episode 35), featuring an interview with Mr Kurt Osiander. Kurt is an old-school BJJ black belt under Ralph Gracie.  He's known for his no BS communication style, his informative Youtube instructional videos, and his swearing (this interview is definitely not for the ears of little children or the overly sensitive). The topics we cover include... … [Read more...]

Stephan’s on Snapchat

Stephan Kesting on Snapchat

Hey, I'm now on the social video app Snapchat! I'm sharing some BJJ tips there almost every day, plus a little bit of behind-the-scenes footage of what goes on at the Grapplearts Evil Schemes Lair (TM). Most of what I've posted on Snapchat disappears within 24 hours (it's the nature of the platform). If you're interested in BJJ and the martial arts in general then follow me on snapchat! … [Read more...]

Are my legs too short to apply the triangle choke?

Triangle with Short Legs

The first time I ever saw the triangle choke in action was in 1994, during the last match of UFC 4. Royce Gracie had just squared off against Dan Severn, a seemingly unstoppable wrestler with a huge weight advantage.  I remember thinking, 'There's just no possible way that Royce is gonna win this one.' The fight went to the ground quickly, and after 15 minutes of getting manhandled Royce … [Read more...]

Here’s Why Your Guard Attacks Don’t Work

why most guard attacks fail

When you first learn an sweep or a submission from the guard you usually learn the steps in a 1, 2, 3 manner. "First grab the sleeve and lapel like this... Then open your legs and escape your hips... Now put your foot on the hip and pull him forward...." And so on Then you go ahead, learn all the steps, and get your repetitions in.  You do all the prep work. But then, when you try to … [Read more...]

How to Counter the Bullfighter / Matador Pass

How to counter the bullfighter / matador pass

In the 'Bullfighter' (aka 'Matador' aka 'Toreando') guard pass, you grab your opponent's legs, push them to the ground, and then run around to the side. (There are some refinements to this technique, of course, but even the super basic version I just described can be super-difficult to stop if you're facing someone who is explosive, athletic, and determined.) If you're on the bottom using … [Read more...]

A Triangle Choke Escape that Requires Almost No Training…

silat triangle choke escape

Years ago I came back from an Indonesian Silat training camp led by Dan Inosanto. I showed up at BJJ class the next day and was telling a few guys about how much I had enjoyed the training. One guy with a slightly smartass tone asked me, "How would a Silat guy escape from my triangle choke then?" It turns out that there IS a very effective, super high percentage Silat escape to the … [Read more...]

3 Lessons Learned from BJJ Injuries

BJJ and Martial Arts Injuries

One of the secrets of BJJ is to get good before you get too banged up with injuries to be good. To help you avoid crippling injury I shot a 15 minute video talking about some of the most important lessons I've learned dealing with injuries. Some of these injuries could have stopped my BJJ career dead in its tracks, or left me in constant pain for the rest of my life, or necessitated some … [Read more...]

A Storm in the Mountains and Risk in BJJ

risk and reward in the outdoors and bjj

Today we're going to talk about assessing risk and reward in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but first let me tell you a story about what happened up on a mountain recently... Risk vs Reward in the Outdoors I arrived at the Black Mountain trailhead in the Mount Cypress area a few hours before dark, intending to squeeze in a 90 minute trail run to Eagle Bluffs and back.  In my pack was a light fleece coat, … [Read more...]

How to do the Windshield Wiper Guard Pass

How to do the windshield wiper guard pass

The windshield wiper is a leg motion used by a TON of high level BJJ guys to pass the guard (and also to showboat sometimes). It allows you to cross from one side of your opponent's body to the other without him entangling you in either guard or half guard. For example, let's say that you're passing the guard to your right and your opponent counters by high-legging (i.e. stepping over your … [Read more...]

Butterfly Guard Sweep Counter

Butterfly Sweep Counter

The Butterfly Sweep is one of those fundamental moves that you see everywhere. In every dojo and at every major tournament there's someone who specialises in the Butterfly Guard. And every Butterfly Guard specialist uses the basic Butterfly Sweep as one of their bread and butter moves. This sweep just plain works.  It can be used in gi or no gi.  It can be used against small, fast people or … [Read more...]

Passing the Guard like Leandro Lo

Leandro Lo Guard Passing

If you’re passing the guard then the very first thing you need to worry about is avoiding getting swept or submitted.  After all, it’s pretty hard to use your killer guard passing techniques if your opponent hits a sweep on you and takes you to the bottom right away… That’s why in our recent instructional on passing the guard the first thing Rob Biernacki and I teach is how NOT to get swept or … [Read more...]

New Instructional App: BJJ Guard Passing and Top Game Formula!

BJJ Top Game and Guard Passing Formula

Hey, I've just released the latest Grapplearts instructional. It's called The BJJ Guard Passing and Top Game Formula (or 'Top Game Formula' for short).  And it's available for Apple, Android and Kindle devices. And during the new release period it's half price (regular price $19.99 USD, this week only $9.99). Guard passing is without a doubt the most complex task in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. … [Read more...]

BJJ Rear Mount Master Class Q&A

BJJ Rear Mount Q&A

When Rob Biernacki and I released the BJJ Back Attacks Formula instructional some of the readers of my email newsletter grabbed the app right away and asked some great questions related to the rear mount in BJJ. As it turns out, my partner in rear mount crime was coming back through town recently, so it seemed like a good idea to film videos answers to those questions. Here are the questions … [Read more...]

37 Powerful BJJ Submissions for Grapplers


Have you ever wondered what the most popular and powerful BJJ submissions in BJJ are?  Here's our list of the top 37 submissions taught in BJJ academies all over the world. WARNING: not all of these techniques are legal in IBJJF competition, or allowed at all schools.  But it's still better to be familiar with these illegal techniques just in case someone tries to use them on you. And many of … [Read more...]

Three BJJ Guard Posture Mistakes That’ll Get You KILLED on the Mats

BJJ Posture mistake 3: hand on ground

Using the Power of Posture and Positioning to Prevent Problems (Note to the reader: this lesson #5 from of the Beginning BJJ Course. To receive the other lessons by email please sign up for the free email-based course) Whenever I've got someone in my guard I watch them very carefully for mistakes. If they make a mistake (and if I can capitalize on it quickly) then - boom - they're gonna get … [Read more...]