How to Come Up With New Jiu-Jitsu Techniques (and Succeed at Online Dating Too)


The key to having great ideas is to have LOTS of ideas.  Dream them up, test them out, and discard the bad ideas quickly! Almost all the new variations of jiu-jitsu techniques you dream up will die a lonely death in the graveyard of stupid ideas. Most of your brilliant new ideas will be crap.  Most things you try out in life will fail... Expect this and learn to welcome it. Speed towards … [Read more...]

Taking Responsibility for Your Own BJJ Training

bjj competition

A Guest Article by Kaeli Sweigard When you choose your actions, you choose your consequences. I used to work with “at risk” youth, and this was something I constantly re-iterated to them. They would break into cars, and then complain about having to go to court. I wanted them to really grasp the fact that they could make a different decision, and they would get different results. I wanted them … [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...]

Bodybuilding, Jiu-Jitsu, and My Quest to Make 240 lbs with Abs…


In my late twenties I went through a phase that most young men go through - I wanted to get big.  Maybe not as big as Dorian Yates and the other professional bodybuilders active at the time, but certainly bigger than most other men in my peer group.  Yes, I admit that there was a certain element of vanity at work,  but I also told myself that it would be good for my jiu-jitsu. The trouble was … [Read more...]

Black Belt Blindness, And Other Dangers….

Black Belt Image 2

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...]

Grapplearts BJJ & Submission Grappling T-Shirts


A lot of people ask me about Grapplearts shirts. And while I'm happy to create them I don't want to stock tons and tons of T-Shirt inventory in a cacophony of sizes and colours. That's why I tend to do shirts in limited edition campaigns: I put a design out there, and if we get enough interest in a in it then we go out and get the shirts printed up, ship them out, and then close down the … [Read more...]

4 Magic Phrases to Help You Learn BJJ Faster

Teaching a class

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...]

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...]

Top Secret Sentry Removal Technique


If you're new to the martial arts then you might not get the humour of this, but believe me, there are many jackasses out there with their own versions of this information. The difference is that their tongues aren't firmly planted in the side of their cheeks. Anyway, this particular technique was far too deadly to put into Non-Stop Jiu-Jitsu - putting such information into the wrong hands … [Read more...]

The Complete Spider Guard Gameplan Mindmap


OK, this is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen… I recently did an interview with Elliott Bayev on how to build BJJ gameplans. While we were talking Elliott dropped some hints about the Spider Guard project that we've been working on together... One of the things that Elliott did for this project was to create an in-depth mindmap showing his entire Spider Guard gameplan. And you can get … [Read more...]

Podcast EP24: How to Build a BJJ Gameplan


Here's a really cool video interview I did with my friend, BJJ blackbelt, renowned coach, and fierce competitor Elliott Bayev. This interview is special because we break down the steps of building a BJJ gameplan.  We go right from the basic BJJ self defense gameplan, and build up to the intricate strategies used by world class competitors. There are tons of immediately useful takeaways … [Read more...]

How to React Without Thinking


What Bruce Lee and Malcolm Gladwell Taught Me About Mushin (or the Art of No-Mind and Executing the Perfect Technique), Bruce Lee and Malcom Gladwell agree with Mark Mullen.  Sometimes things just happen too quickly to use conscious thought. Sometimes you just need to forget about thought and simply react to the situation. … [Read more...]

The Two Biggest Benefits of Training Martial Arts

Passing the Guard

Funny story... I was passing through the downtown core of a major North American city a few years ago. I had 40 minutes to kill, so I went for a walk and quickly came across a martial arts club I had heard about but never set foot in.   So into the club I went, to check it out and introduce myself. I was immediately struck by two contrasting impressions... The first thing I noticed were … [Read more...]

Should You Correct Your Weaknesses or Focus on Your Strengths?

BJJ private lesson with Gordo

This is an article by longtime Grapplearts contributor and BJJ Black Belt Mark Mullen. A question I always ask when I discuss jiu-jitsu with senior black belts is, "In developing your game is it better to develop your strengths, or to focus on weaknesses in order to correct them?"   The simplest form of this question is about developing your top game vs your bottom game in BJJ. … [Read more...]

The Danger of All-Or-Nothing Thinking…


In life it's funny what ends up making a lasting impression on you. An offhand comment can stick with you for years and years, and have an effect way beyond anything the original person intended. There's a phrase like that that pops up in my mind often when I'm thinking about BJJ.  But it originated in a very different place. In fact this comment got stuck in my brain more than 20 years ago … [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...]

Why You (and Everyone Else) Should Train BJJ


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...]

Why Talent is Way Overrated


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 Build Self Confidence in BJJ


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...]