Conditioning

The Key to Getting Better and Tougher

stairs-from-white-to-black-belt

  BJJ makes you tougher because it’s a difficult activity that challenges you physically, mentally and emotionally. At first, when you’re getting slaughtered by a 2 stripe white belt, escaping from mount seems impossible. Yet a few years later, fighting your way out of the bottom of mount, passing the guard, and finishing with an armbar is just another day at the office. Over time … [Read more...]

Staying Fit During a BJJ Training Layoff

Staying fit during a training layoff

BJJ is a marathon, not a sprint.  The average Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt takes at least 10 years of hard training, so if you miss a week of training here or there it's not going to make a difference in the long run. But in some scenarios you're not looking at just missing a week of  training.  Let's say that you've got a sick kid at home, or that you have to recover from a surgery, or that … [Read more...]

The Training and Competition Strategies of Bernardo Faria

5-x-world-champion

  Bernardo Faria is a 5 x BJJ World Champion (and a good friend) so I was very excited to sit down with him and have an in-depth conversation about his competition, training and conditioning routine. The full transcript, audio and video are below on this page, but here's a quick preview of some of the things talked about: Exactly what a world champion's day to day training regimen … [Read more...]

Overtraining in the Martial Arts

Overtraining in the Martial Arts

How to Avoid Bringing Your Martial Arts Training to a Screeching Halt... Overtraining is a major problem for the serious martial artist, and especially for competitors who have to balance technical training sessions with sparring and additional conditioning, often in the course of a single day. All this hard training can result in the body breaking down faster than it can repair itself, which … [Read more...]

‘Twas the Day and the Night Before Christmas…

Winter Deathmarch 2016

So about a year ago a semi-annual tradition got started... The way it works is that every 6 months the toughest woman I know and I do a one day, 30 mile hike through the mountains with a TON of elevation gain and loss.  It's up and up and up and then down and down and down... We call it the 'Deathmarch' and it's a ton of fun. Here's a video I put together using photos and snapchat videos … [Read more...]

What To Do When Your Mind Goes Blank While Sparring or Competing

What to do when your mind goes blank

  Lots of grapplers run into the problem of their mind going blank when they're sparring or competing. In a class setting they might be able to bang out repetitions of techniques, demonstrate combos, and flow with the go like nobody's business, but as soon as they hit the mats to actually roll, well, all of a sudden they have absolutely no idea about what they should be doing. This … [Read more...]

The Ultimate Guide to Developing BJJ Hip Movement Through Shrimping

10-ways-to-shrimp-image

  Everyone says that moving your hips is one of the keys to jiu-jitsu. And they’re absolutely right: the correct movement of the hips is critical not only for escaping bad positions, but also for applying submissions, sweeping your opponent, passing the guard and much more. Traditionally an exercise called ‘shrimping’ is often used in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to develop hip movement. This … [Read more...]

Neck Harness Trials

Neck Harness quick video

A strong neck is essential for BJJ and grappling. Obviously a strong neck is simply harder to choke, but that’s not the end of the matter… A strong neck also helps you maintain good posture when standing and in the guard, and high level grapplers inevitably use the head as a fifth limb. (If you’ve ever had a skilled wrestler in your guard then you probably know what I’m talking about, … [Read more...]

How to Train When You Have No Time

How to train when you have no time

Whether you're working a full time job, a parent with a couple of kids, or a student juggling a crazy class schedule, almost everyone is really busy these days. And if you're also trying to squeeze regular training into that busy schedule, well, things can end up in the ludicrous zone pretty quickly... I'm no exception: of course I'm running Grapplearts, training in BJJ and trying not to … [Read more...]

Getting in Shape for a BJJ Tournament, FAST!

How to get in shape fast for a BJJ tournament

So I got this letter from a reader asking about how to get into shape for a BJJ tournament as fast as possible... --------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hi Stephan,   I've just read your article on Tapering and Peaking for MMA and BJJ Competition and found it to be very informative and I have a question that relates to the topic.   I have a grappling … [Read more...]

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...]

7 Reasons Martial Artists Should Do Cardio

Bruce Lee - the ultimate martial artist - doing cardio

Today I want to share 7 reasons that all martial artists should do some form of cardio. This article actually started on a great run up my favourite local mountain. During that run, while dodging roots, rocks and puddles, I also spent a lot of time thinking about the direct martial arts benefits people get after they start working on their cardio. After the run, while cooling down and … [Read more...]

Kurt Osiander Interview – the Barbarian of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Kurt Osiander BJJ Interview

I've just released the latest podcast (episode 35), featuring an interview with Mr Kurt Osiander. Kurt is an old-school BJJ black belt under Ralph Gracie.  He's known for his no BS communication style, his informative Youtube instructional videos, and his swearing (this interview is definitely not for the ears of little children or the overly sensitive). The topics we cover include... … [Read more...]

A Storm in the Mountains and Risk in BJJ

risk and reward in the outdoors and bjj

Today we're going to talk about assessing risk and reward in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but first let me tell you a story about what happened up on a mountain recently... Risk vs Reward in the Outdoors I arrived at the Black Mountain trailhead in the Mount Cypress area a few hours before dark, intending to squeeze in a 90 minute trail run to Eagle Bluffs and back.  In my pack was a light fleece coat, … [Read more...]

My Favourite Muhammad Ali Quote

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali passed away 2 days ago at age 74 after putting quite a dent into the universe. He was a great boxer.  The greatest of all time according to some (especially himself). And his conscientious objector status to the Vietnam War made him hugely unpopular at the time, and then an icon to an entire generation. When we remember Ali we often end up thinking about his quips, quotes, … [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

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...]

Fitness On One Hour of Working Out Per Week…

Working out when time is limited

A reader recently asked an interesting question... Hi Stephan, I'm super-busy with my job and my kids.  In a good week I only get to go to BJJ class once, maybe twice, so I want to add some conditioning to the mix.  If I only have one additional hour per week to devote to physical fitness what would you suggest? Thanks, Jim  I feel his pain!  Everybody's busy these days, and … [Read more...]

Mental Toughness is Transferrable

baden powell trail sign

A few days ago I checked off one of the items on my lifelist by completing a 30 mile mountain ultramarathon (BC's 'Kneeknacker') with 8,000 feet of elevation gain and 8,000 feet of elevation loss. But instead of doing it in the summer we decided to do it on the shortest day of the year. Without support. In the snow. We started with headlamps in the rain before dawn, and finished with … [Read more...]

Podcast EP30: BJJ Q&A – Popular Reader Questions Answered

BJJ Podcast

I recently did the second-ever Grapplearts Radio Q&A format podcast.  In it I answered questions from my newsletter readers. In this particular podcast we cover many topics, including How to come back to BJJ training after an injury... and not lose your mind while you're rehabbing... Options for transitioning out of Z guard (and half guard in general) to open guard How to improve … [Read more...]