Injuries

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...]

How to do the Armbar Without Crushing Your Balls

How to prevent your balls from getting crushed during the armbar

It's a question that I get from BJJ beginners all the time, "How do I do the armbar without crushing my balls in the process?" And it's a legitimate problem for people starting out their BJJ career.  In fact, it's a simple equation... Elbow + Groin = OUCH!! Now you could wear a cup, but most intermediate and advanced players don't do that unless they're training for MMA. Instead 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...]

The Secret to Getting Your Black Belt

Getting Your Black Belt

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWcbLgxANFo Pssst, want to become a BJJ black belt? The 'secret' is simple: just don’t quit! Of course, the devil is in the details, which is why this article is more than two lines long... I want to start with the fact that almost everybody can eventually become a black belt, so if you just keep training hard then you’ll probably make it. One my … [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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

When Should an MMA Fighter Retire?

When should a fighter retire from MMA?

Quitting MMA One of the hardest decisions a fighter ever has to make is when to hang up the gloves and retire from the MMA game. In many sports professional athletes are usually forced into retirement by orthopaedic issues. A knee just can’t take the pounding anymore… A problem shoulder just keeps on getting worse… As the the mileage takes its toll and the injuries add up, athletic … [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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

Judo for BJJ

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An article by Mark Mullen Most students of Brazilian jiu-jitsu are aware that the origins of modern day BJJ came from Japanese judoka Mitsuyo Maeda who was one of the earliest of Jigoro Kano's members at the Kodokan. Since those early days, Brazilian jiu-jitsu has evolved significantly and now Olympic style judo and sport BJJ have diverged into their own sports. The rules governing IBJJF … [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...]