10 Tips on Running for BJJ

Stephan Kesting Running

I blame Bruce Lee, for it was he who first brought the fact that martial artists should run to my attention. It was in the eighties and I came across a photo of Bruce Lee running down the road in the book Bruce Lee's Fighting Method Vol 2.  The text talked about how important he thought running was, and mentioned that, "Even when he was sent to India to find suitable locations for filming, he … [Read more...]

Black Belt Blindness, And Other Dangers….

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A black belt is just a 2 inch wide piece of cloth, not a license to pontificate upon matters about which you are utterly ignorant. It's also doesn't give you the right to have people's unquestioning obedience. To get a legitimate black belt in BJJ requires more time, effort, and investment than a black belt in almost any other martial art.  If someone has spent the blood, sweat and tears … [Read more...]

Podcast EP25: BJJ Beginner Tips Interview and Podcast

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In this Grapplearts interview I talk to BJJ Black Belt Ritchie Yip, focusing on tips that BJJ beginners need to know.  But sometimes the conversation goes a little off track! You can follow/consume/download/watch this awesome and informative interview several different ways... You can watch the Youtube video below You can download the mp3 file by right clicking here and selecting 'Save … [Read more...]

4 Magic Phrases to Help You Learn BJJ Faster

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In my early days of martial arts training I ran into quite a few teachers who were so full of themselves that students asking questions was almost unheard of. At first I thought that this was normal. I thought that maybe things would change after I'd paid my dues for 10 or 20 years... And then I started training in JKD under Makoto Kabayama. … [Read more...]

How to Experience Flow for the First Time in BJJ

Butterfly guard sweep

Advanced BJJ players often talk about 'flow' - the ability to effortlessly adapt to changing situations and flow around resistance you might run into.  But flow isn't a state that you suddenly arrive at in BJJ. Instead, as you progress in the art, you start getting little glimpses of it, hints of how things might hook together, and brief moments when things work out effortlessly. Of course, … [Read more...]

How to Adjust Your Triangle for Maximum Tightness and Effectiveness

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Some techniques just require a bit more tweaking than others... For example, when I was a whitebelt the armbar was fairly easy to learn.  The triangle choke, on the other hand, was relatively easy to apply, but hard to finish, (which was very frustrating). It took a lot of experimentation, coaching and adjusting before I was able to successfully choke out even cooperating, non-resisting … [Read more...]

Don’t Panic, This is Normal!

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I often hear from people distraught about some area of their jiu-jitsu lagging behind. It might be their sweeps from the closed guard, their submissions from side mount, their escapes from rear mount, or their butterfly guard passes, but in that that one specific area they’re just not as good at as they should be. Here's the thing though: there will ALWAYS be areas where you are lagging … [Read more...]

A Little-Known Move to Recover Guard from Turtle

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When BJJ world champion Brandon Mullins and I started talking about doing a second instructional set, he was adamant about including a section focusing on the advanced applications of fundamental movements. I was initially dubious.  I didn't think that most people would be interested in this.  But the more we talked about it, and especially when he started showing me what he wanted to cover, I … [Read more...]

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

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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 … [Read more...]

ARCHIVE The FREE Roadmap for BJJ App!

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Here's something brand new that I've been working on for a whole year.  It's available right now and I think you're really going to like it!! How would you like a top-to-bottom game plan for the closed guard position? What about a complete roadmap for the Open Guard? And while we’re at it, would a game plan for the modern Half Guard help you out? … [Read more...]

BJJ Seminar Disaster!

Stephan teaching BJJ

I once attended a seminar taught by a big name in BJJ (don’t ask me who - my lips are sealed!). It was in a medium-sized town, but for whatever reason, attendance was terrible.  There were only about 8 people there, myself included. And it didn't take very long to figure out that that at least six of the eight attendees were brand new beginners.  We’re talking about … [Read more...]

BJJ Self Defense Part 5: Defending the Low Tech (and Deadly) Headlock!

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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. … [Read more...]

BJJ Self Defense Part 4: The Technical Standup

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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 … [Read more...]

BJJ Self Defense Part 3: The Street Guard

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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? … [Read more...]

BJJ Self Defense Part 2: Escaping the Mount

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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 … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]

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...]