The Evolution of BJJ (Plus Some Crazy Stories) with Scott Nelson

Stephan-in-blue-gi

We've just released the latest episode of the Grapplearts Radio Podcast! This time I talk to Scott Nelson from On The Mat.  Scott is a North American jiu-jitsu pioneer who was one of the very first guys to travel to Brazil to train in the motherland of the art. He was also one of the first guys to run a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu website (I remember visiting it back in the dial-up modem … [Read more...]

The Easiest Way to Teach (and Learn) the Armbar from Guard

Teaching the armbar from guard

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 … [Read more...]

Inspiring!

Diver on Board

I saw something amazing in the pool where I was hanging out after a workout today. First I noticed that there was a group of about 7 men jumping off the highest part of the diving tower, again and again. This wasn't a dinky little diving board 1 meter off the water. They were throwing themselves off the 5 meter board, which is high enough to make anyone's heart go pitter-pat. … [Read more...]

Techniques Straight From Brazil

BJJ private lesson with Gordo

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 … [Read more...]

A Closed Guard Pass Direct From Brazil

Gordo Closed Guard Pass

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. … [Read more...]

The Biggest Gi Choke Mistake (And How to Fix It)

Gi Choke Grips

How a single 'quick fix' can triple the power of your gi choke attacks Gi chokes are a fundamental and effective strategy in BJJ. Maybe the two best known gi choke are the cross collar choke from guard and the cross collar choke from mount.  We'll explore that choke in more detail below, but rest assured that it has been used to submit world class competitors at the highest levels of competition. … [Read more...]

A Sneaky Armbar Escape

sneaky armbar escape

The armbar escape in the video below is one of my favourite armbar defenses. I like it because it's simple and effective against a wide variety of grapplers, but also because of the reaction it gets from people who were oh-so-close to armbarring you. They'll either laugh or swear out loud after you get out; either reaction is pretty gratifying! … [Read more...]

Just Say NO to Getting Swept in the Guard

Countering the Heel Grab

There's a strong argument to be made for knowing how to pass the guard both standing up AND kneeling down.  This keeps your opponent guessing and allows you to change your game up and avoid his strengths. What I'm going to give you today is a free sample of my Black Belt Grappling Concepts Course that'll show you how to shut down one of the most common problems you'll encounter when you're … [Read more...]

A Blackbelt’s Private Lesson With a Jiu-jitsu Master, by Mark Mullen

BJJ private lesson with Gordo

This is a very interesting field report by my first BJJ training partner (and now BJJ black belt) Mark Mullen, who just came back from a trip to Brazil - Stephan Kesting. I recently spent 2 months in Rio de Janeiro, shortly after graduating to black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In addition to enjoying the beaches, acai and famous sights of Rio I was looking to get on the mat and learn some … [Read more...]

The Most Dangerous Throw in Judo & BJJ

Kani Basami - the most dangerous judo and bjj throw

There's a good reason that the extremely effective throw Kani Basami has been banned in all Judo and most BJJ competitions: it's super dangerous! Kani Basami has inflicted severe lower body injuries in dojos and competitions all over the world. I myself used it extensively until I was sparring with a wrestler, misjudged the distances, and landed on his ankle severely twisting it. He was out … [Read more...]

The Best Way to Tie Your Belt

How to tie your BJJ or Judo Belt

It's funny: in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu both people start a match looking so neat and tidy in their designer gi's. But less than a minute later it's usually a complete yard-sale: the lapels have come undone, the gi is pulled over someone's head, and the loose belt is wrapped around someone's ankles. Well, here's a 4 minute breakdown on how to tie your BJJ or Judo belt so it stays in place and … [Read more...]

The Art and Science of Teaching Martial Arts

Ritchie getting his bjj black belt

I recently interviewed my friend, training partner, black belt, and school owner Ritchie Yip. The main theme of our discussion was the art and science of teaching martial arts, including how to teach students with different learning styles and experience levels. Not every student learns the same way, and a good teacher knows how to adapt his material and curriculum to help students of all … [Read more...]

How to Incorporate a New Technique into Your Arsenal

Stephan-Kesting

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 … [Read more...]

The Most Distinctive MMA Fighter

Imanari Leglock

Man, nobody else fights like Masakazu Imanari. Such a distinctive (and scary) style… Imanari is a man on a mission: if there's a leg in the room somewhere then he's going to find it and tear it off. Every moment of every fight he's looking to wrap up that leg: it doesn't matter if you're punching, kicking, clinching or on the ground. Even the former UFC fighter (and infamous heel hooker) … [Read more...]

Self Defense, Competition, and Performing In High Pressure Situations

cloverleaf from Kajukenbo Crest 2

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 … [Read more...]

Crowdsourcing Your BJJ

crowdsourced bjj 2

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 … [Read more...]

How to Defeat The Judo-Style Rolling Armbar

Travis Stevens and Jimmy Pedro on Defeating Ronda Rousey's Armbar

Love her or hate her, Ronda Rousey is an armbar machine.  At UFC 168 she defeated Meisha Tate with her eighth armbar in eight MMA fights.  This armbar streak is an amazing achievement, and a lot of people (including a lot of people who don't actually train) have been asking me how to counter this attack. I was thinking about doing this but it turns out that someone beat me to it. … [Read more...]

The Real Secret to Mastering a Skill

Upper Norish Creek

New Year's eve is just around the corner, making this the traditional time for drawing up plans, making resolutions, and setting your goals for the upcoming year. "This year I'm gonna do this… I'm gonna stop doing that…" Goal setting is super important and I'm all for it. I hope that you have your goals for the year clearly written out and displayed in a prominent place. But the problem is … [Read more...]

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

Laurie Berenson BJJ Sparring

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 … [Read more...]

Clark Gracie on Training, Competing, and Growing up Gracie

clark gracie mural

This is a great interview with 2013 Pan Am BJJ Champion Clark Gracie.  He shares a ton of cool info. You can listen to, read, or download this interview in several different ways… Play the audio-only Youtube video at the bottom of this list, and/or Right click on this link and select ‘save as’ to download this mp3 file to your computer, and/or Subscribe to the Grapplearts Podcast in … [Read more...]

A Cool X Guard Drill and Sweep

Clark Gracie doing an X guard 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 … [Read more...]

Clark Gracie Shares Some Rear Naked Choke Tips

Clark Gracie RNC

I recently did a podcast interview with Clark Gracie at a friend's house.  After the interview we were talking about the rear naked choke and I realised two things: A) my friend had mats, and B) I had a camera in the car. This was a great opportunity to pick his mind some more, so we quickly set up shop and Clark shared some really great tips about setting up and amplifying the power of the … [Read more...]