How to do the Heel Hook (and How to Train it Safely)

How to do the heel hook

The heel hook is one of the most devastating leglocks you can apply! Instead of attacking the big muscles of the leg (like the quads, hamstrings, or glutes) the heel hook targets the small ligaments of the knee and the ankle. This means that you can really screw up someone's leg if you apply it in anger. The heel hook is banned in most clubs and illegal in almost all gi tournaments.  But … [Read more...]

Pre-planning the Tap and Climbing Everest…

How climbing Mount Everest applies to BJJ

We'll get to the Mount Everest part later, but first let me tell you a story about the other day when I was sparring with a black belt training partner... My partner was using the spider guard, a position he's spent quite a bit of time developing in the last year.  I got sloppy for a second and he slammed on a triangle choke from the double biceps spider guard position (using a variation of … [Read more...]

Will Grappling Dummy Drills Really Help Your BJJ?

Will Grappling Dummy Drills Help Your BJJ?

I often get emails from people wanting to know whether drilling with a grappling dummy will help their jiu-jitsu. Dummies are expensive items, and people want to make sure the investment will be worth it. The short answer is no. In my experience grappling dummies are almost always a waste of time, money, effort and space.  So don't bother. Find another way to train. At first the idea … [Read more...]

Pre-Workout Supplements for BJJ

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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...]

Dealing with Big, Strong Wrestlers in Your Guard

Teaching a class

I got the following question on Twitter where I hang out as @stephankesting. I think it's a question worth exploring because a lot of people find dealing with strong, large and aggressive wrestlers very difficult. Question: Hi Stephan, I’ve been training BJJ for a few years now, but I get frustrated when I roll with one particular bigger, stronger whitebelt coming from a wrestling … [Read more...]

A Big Guard Passing Tip Learned from Boxing

Passing the Guard

Today I'm going to share a tip which - if you actually use it - should make your guard passes twice as effective as they are right now. I learned this a long time ago from my friend and training partner Ritchie Yip. One day we were sparring, and unlike our previous sparring session he was absolutely demolishing my guard.  It was as if I had butter legs and he was wielding a red-hot samurai … [Read more...]

Non-Stop de la Riva Guard Instructional App Now Available!

Non-Stop de la Riva Guard Gameplan

We've just put out a brand new app that could add an entirely new aspect to your guard game! It's the 'Non-Stop de la Riva Guard' instructional app by Brandon 'Wolverine' Mullins and myself.  And it's available for iOS, Android and Kindle devices. The focus of this app is on giving you a simple and easy-to deploy system for the de la Riva guard.  A gameplan that DOESN'T require you to be … [Read more...]

Don’t Overthink Jiu-Jitsu

armbar in progress

Back when I was a brown belt I rolled with a large, strong, aggressive and completely unskilled white belt. This white belt was absolutely determined to illustrate the size difference between us by using all his weight and all his strength at all times. You know the type... At one point he was in my guard with his forearm across my throat. Essentially he was giving me the classic trigger … [Read more...]

A Mean Option When Your Opponent is Stalling in BJJ Sidemount

people on the bottom can often stall in sidemount

Have you ever trained BJJ with anyone who’s so desperate not to tap out that all they do is stall? Someone who’s whole ego is wrapped up in the idea that such-and-such brown belt hasn’t managed to submit them out recently? It’s one of the biggest traps the ego can lead someone into on the mats… Back in the day I trained with one of these guys who’s entire sense of jiu-jitsu self-worth was … [Read more...]

How To Use Moves You Already Know to Do Advanced Techniques

From Advanced BJJ Fundamentals mobile app

We've just launched the latest Grapplearts BJJ instructional mobile app with my friend Brandon 'Wolverine' Mullins. It's called Advanced BJJ Fundamentals. The name of this app isn't accidental, because it's all about using the fundamental building blocks of jiu-jitsu to make learning easier, to amplify the effectiveness and reliability of your techniques, and to build an advanced … [Read more...]

Your Open Guard Options vs. Standing Opponents

Two types of guard vs standing opponents

If you end up on the bottom with your opponent standing up and detached from you then be prepared for a very frantic and dangerous scramble.  Unhindered by your grips and hooks he can deploy his favourite Open Guard passes on you without having to feel endangered by your own attacks. And if he's an athletic guy then the situation is even worse.  He'll be able to use his speed and explosiveness … [Read more...]

Anderson Silva Screws Up (Video Proof)

Dan Inosanto Teaches Anderson Silva

Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva in his prime was probably the most talented striker the UFC ever had. This man could do it all: insanely high striking accuracy, pinpoint punches, devastating knees, unreal timing, an amazing ability to bob and weave.  When he was on fire he didn’t just beat opponents: he broke them and systematically dismantled them, and left them slumped unconscious on the … [Read more...]

How to Counter the Toreando Guard Pass

lapel drag counter to toreando 1

So there you are, on your back and fighting your opponent with your legs.  Maybe you're using the Spider Guard, the Butterfly Guard, or any other variation of Open Guard, but regardless, both you and he are jockeying for grips and position. You’re trying to set up your guard sweeps and submissions, and he’s trying to pass your guard. Then - disaster! Your opponent grips both your pant … [Read more...]

My Favourite Spider Guard Variation and Triangle Choke Setup

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The Spider Guard is a very diverse position.  Normally you start with the Double Feet on Biceps variation, but after that there are a TON of variations (including the Leg Lasso, de la Spider, Reverse de la Spider, Spider X, Collar-Spider, and Collar-Sleeve variations). Of all these Spider Guard Variations the Collar-Spider is probably my very favourite. We'll go into more detail about it in … [Read more...]

Podcast EP26: Perspectives on BJJ Drilling – An Interview with SBG’s Steve Whittier

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Steve Whittier from SBG East Coast is a cool guy. He manages to combine both thoughtful analyses and controversial opinions into one eloquent package. In this interview we talked about lots of different BJJ and MMA related topics, but the main emphasis and recurring theme was functional drilling and the efficacy of different types of BJJ training methods but we also covered self defense vs. … [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

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...]

The Three Ways to Escape ANY Submission…

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Jiu-jitsu has hundreds of submissions including chokes, cranks, armlocks, wristlocks, kneebars, footlocks, crushes, and many other ways to make people tap out. But if you're caught in a submission - any submission - there are only three ways to get out.  This relates to the timing of the defense: before, during or after. Let's go through them, one by one... … [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...]