Health & Nutrition

The Pros and Cons of Bridging Onto Your Head

Wrestler bridging onto head

Neck bridging is an exercise that supposedly strengthens the neck that is almost unique to the grappling arts. It is also controversial. Broadly speaking, there are two main ways of bridging: the backwards neck bridge (belly to the sky) or a forwards neck bridge (where you are belly-down to the mat). Most grapplers who bridge do both forward and backward bridging. First the pro of … [Read more...]

A Hidden Danger When Martial Artists Get Injured…

Martial Arts Injuries: a Hidden Danger

If you're doing a 'real' martial art then it's going to involve some form of contact... And if you're doing any contact activity for long enough then, eventually, you're going to get injured. Now hopefully your injury won't be anything serious; maybe just a sprain, a bad bruise, or a tweak that will heal quickly. But in the worst case scenario - especially if it's a serious injury like an … [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...]

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...]

How to Avoid BJJ Injuries (and Other Dumb Ways to Die)

How to Prevent BJJ Injuries

There’s a smartphone game out there called Dumb Ways to Die. Well, many BJJ guys are playing a similar game every time they step on the mats. It’s called Dumb Ways to Get Injured. To fight this trend here’s an important new article written by my friend (and training partner from long ago) Jeff Meszaros. In this article you get some of Jeff’s crazy stories about some of the dumbest things … [Read more...]

Pre-Workout Supplements for BJJ

Pre-workout Supplements for BJJ Image

Pre-workout supplements used to be mostly for weightlifters and bodybuilders.  But now more and more jiu-jitsu practitioners are taking them before BJJ class in order to train longer and harder. Do they work?  Sorta, kinda... Are they safe?  Not at all. Is there a better alternative?  Definitely! Let's look into pre-workout supplements, especially with regards to students of BJJ. In … [Read more...]

Finger Pain in BJJ and What to Do About It

Hand and finger pain in BJJ

"My Fingers Hurt..." I get a lot of emails, tweets and messages from BJJ practitioners about fingers hurting all the time. For example, I asked a question about BJJ hand pain on Twitter got a ton of responses (click here to see them on Twitter), including a disconcerting number of white belts who had this problem. So it's a real problem, and not only for people who've been doing the sport a … [Read more...]

Does MMA Make You Stupid? Impact, Concussions and Brain Damage in Mixed Martial Arts

MMA Punch

MMA has been my guilty pleasure for a long time. On the one hand, I'm a huge fan. I've been watching the UFC since its inauguration in 1993, and have enjoyed fights in Pride FC, Shooto, WEC, Strikeforce, Bellator, and many other organisations. I have good friends who are professional fighters, and have helped them prepare for their fights. And I have nothing but respect for the skill, … [Read more...]

How to Tape Your Fingers for BJJ

How and why to tape you fingers in BJJ

Some BJJ players - including myself - train and compete with their hands au naturel. But BJJ can be rough on the hands and fingers, especially grip-dependent positions like Spider Guard and de la Riva, and some competitors have so much tape covering their fingers that they look like mummies shambling out from beneath an Egyptian pyramid. In the video below BJJ black belt Rob Biernacki and I … [Read more...]

Three Big Lessons from Three Martial Arts Injuries

BJJ Injuries

Today’s topic isn’t sexy. There aren’t any clever armbars, killer chokes, or brand new strategies that’ll give you an edge on the mat. But it might just save you years of suffering and stalled progress. Today I want to talk about three big lessons I learned dealing with various types of martial arts injuries… … [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...]

Should I Do Extra Conditioning for BJJ?

Stephan Running

To condition or not to condition, that is the question… Whether ’tis smarter for your body to strain under barbells and long distance runs, or ignore all that stuff and just focus on getting more mat time. This is NOT an article about general fitness, or about achieving a goal in another sport. If you want to run a half-marathon for the challenge, the endorphins, or the sense of achievement … [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...]

On Starting a Conditioning Program for BJJ & Submission Grappling

Conditioning for Grappling & BJJ

There are lots of reasons to start doing a conditioning program if you're training in BJJ or submission grappling. The most important (yet often overlooked) benefit is to injury proof your body and allow you to train longer, harder, and more often.  Other benefits can include increased strength, improved muscular endurance, elevated aerobic and anaerobic capacities, and more explosiveness, all of … [Read more...]

More On Concussions in MMA

Ground and Pound in MMA

Last week I published my contentious, 'Does MMA Make You Stupid' article. Since then there have been a few more developments on the concussion controversy, so I figured it was worth sharing the updates so as to keep you in the loop. UPDATE 1: STEPHAN KESTING ON THE NHB NEWS PODCAST Over the weekend I was contacted by Eddie Goldman, the Godfather of MMA, from the NHB News website and podcast. … [Read more...]

Top Five Diet Tips for BJJ

Stephan Teaching a Jiu-Jitsu seminar

I often get questions about diet and nutrition from grapplers and martial artists.  People want to eat correctly because they think it will make them more effective in BJJ class, allow them to recover faster after training, and provide them with better health overall. Well, it's true.  What you eat can have a HUGE effect on your performance. … [Read more...]

The Truth about Supplements – Everyone is Lying to You

supplements-for-bjj

When it comes to supplements for BJJ, or any other sport for that matter, almost everybody giving you advice is lying to you. Or at the very least, deluded by wishful thinking... And just to alienate even more people, by the term 'supplements' I'm including most vitamins, minerals, ergogenic aids, pre-workout drinks, post-workout shakes, homeopathic medicine, herbal concoctions, chinese … [Read more...]

How to Train BJJ, even with an Injured Arm (Drill)

Training BJJ with an injured arm

This article and video are about how to train and continue to make progress in BJJ when you're dealing with an arm injury. Now I hope that you go through your entire BJJ career without ever suffering a single injury. But this is a contact sport, and therefore you're probably going to get a little banged up from time to time. … [Read more...]

20,000 lbs of snow and the true meaning of self defense…

cabin in the snow

This is a rather rambling post; in the words of Mark Twain, "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead." First, and most importantly, I really hope that you had a great Christmas (or alternate celebration of your choice).  And that you got to spend time with friends, family and loved ones. Next, congratulations on surviving the Mayan Calendar Apocalypse!  … [Read more...]

How Not to Break Your Neck Doing Takedowns

broken neck MMA

There's no getting around it, all contact sports are inherently dangerous.  And it's hard to have more contact in a sport than in MMA. Now it's true that MMA might not be the most dangerous contact sport - that dubious title could arguably go to boxing or pro football - but in the past few years there have still been been some very, very serious injuries in MMA related to takedowns... … [Read more...]