Podcast EP24: How to Build a BJJ Gameplan

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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

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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…

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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

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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

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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

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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...]

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...]

Podcast EP20: 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 learning … [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...]

Fascism, the USSR, Iran, Afghanistan, El Salvador and Vampires.

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Most of the time I restrain myself and keep the discussion in this blog focused on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Grappling, and MMA. But sometimes I just have to go outside the reservation... Like many people, I'm a huge fan of Dan Carlin's Hardcore History show. No matter what I'm involved in, whenever one of those exquisitely crafted podcasts comes out I drop everything and immerse myself in … [Read more...]

Jiu-Jitsu for the Zombie Apocalypse

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I've just put the most important video I've ever shot onto Youtube: Jiu-Jitsu for the Zombie Apocalypse. A lot of people will tell you that jiu-jitsu will be useless when the Zombie Apocalypse hits.  But those people have an agenda: usually they're trying to sell you flamethrowers, or have stocks in the big arms companies. … [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...]

Get Your Action Photo Featured on Grapplearts

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Over the years a lot of readers have had their photos of grappling action appear on the Grapplearts Featured Photo page.  Some photos were taken by professional photographers, but the majority were taken by amateurs, sometimes even just snapped on on iPhone at the local tournament or open mat. People love these photos, which is why we've recently been cross-posting them on the Grapplearts … [Read more...]