Mark Mullen

The 16 Most Important Techniques for the BJJ Beginner

16 BJJ Beginner Techniques

What's the most common problem (aside from getting caught under side control) facing the BJJ beginner? It's probably feeling overwhelmed by the staggering number of techniques that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu contains! There are a thousand variations of sweeps and locks and chokes and pins and escapes and guard passes.  It's enough to make your head spin! So where then do you start?  Which … [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...]

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...]

Judo for BJJ


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...]

How to Transition from Half to Closed Guard


The half guard is a sophisticated tool in the grappler's toolbox that can be used to defend, sweep your opponents, or submit them outright. But just because you've got a hammer doesn't make the whole world a nail. And that means that you can't rely on any one guard position as the be-all-and-end-all. Even if you're a half guard wizard you'll still end up facing opponents who know all your … [Read more...]

Techniques Straight From Brazil

BJJ private lesson with Gordo

Recently I published an article on my blog by one of my very first BJJ training partners, Mark Mullen, talking about the private lessons he, as a black belt, took when he was in Brazil. Almost as an aside Mark mentioned that he had received permission to film some of his private lessons. Since then quite a few people have gotten in touch with me to ask what they would have to do to see the … [Read more...]

A Closed Guard Pass Direct From Brazil

Gordo Closed Guard Pass

I’m in the middle of trying something new at… The lion’s share of the BJJ videos in the article and technique section of this site have been produced by yours truly (Stephan Kesting). But recently one of my very first BJJ training partners also wanted to contribute some cool footage to the video vault. … [Read more...]

A Blackbelt’s Private Lesson With a Jiu-jitsu Master, by Mark Mullen

BJJ private lesson with Gordo

This is a very interesting field report by my first BJJ training partner (and now BJJ black belt) Mark Mullen, who just came back from a trip to Brazil - Stephan Kesting. I recently spent 2 months in Rio de Janeiro, shortly after graduating to black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. In addition to enjoying the beaches, acai and famous sights of Rio I was looking to get on the mat and learn some … [Read more...]

What Should A Blue Belt Concentrate On In Training?

blue belt

by Mark Mullen A few weeks back I penned an article called "What Do Whitebelts Need To Learn In Their 1st Year of BJJ?". That prompted a few people to request a discussion of the next step in the BJJ journey: Bluebelt. If we think of the whitebelt as a time of fleshing out the skeleton of the positional hierarchy and learning the mechanics of basic techniques, I would sum up the Bluebelt as a … [Read more...]