BJJ Self Defense Part 1: Proximity, Panic and Claustrophobia


This might be a bit controversial but BJJ IS A MARTIAL ART! That means it's a fighting method, used for stopping (and possibly hurting) people who are intent on doing you serious harm. Sure, it's also a fantastic sport, a fitness method, and a way to challenge yourself. I enjoy it for all those aspects too. But being able to take care of business in the street comes first. … [Read more...]

Podcast EP22: Adam Singer on Modern MMA Training and Competition


Stephan: I’m here today with my friend, Adam Singer, who runs The HardCore Gym in Athens, Georgia.  He is probably best known for being Forrest Griffin’s MMA coach during the formative years of Forrest’s career. He’s also a jiu-jitsu black belt and has trained tons of fighters. I’m really looking forward to picking his brain about MMA and jiu-jitsu and the relationship between these things. … [Read more...]

Self Defense, Competition, and Performing In High Pressure Situations

cloverleaf from Kajukenbo Crest 2

Performance under pressure is always tricky.  In fact a lot of martial arts practitioners worry about whether they'd actually be able to execute their skills in super-stressful situations. Of course competing at a tournament or performing at belt tests can be stressful.  But the scariest high pressure situation of all is a self defence scenario where you and/or your family is being … [Read more...]

3 Ways to Safely Control an Opponent on the Ground for Self Defense.

self defense pinning positions

Reverse lapeloplatas and inside-out upside-down berimbolos might be fun to train and effective for some guys in high level competition, but at its core Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is a martial art. So once in a while we need to regroup, refocus, and give some thought to what parts of the art we would use in a real self defense situation. … [Read more...]

3 Ways to Close the Distance in a Streetfight

bridging the gap in a streetfight

BJJ is a great fitness activity and a wonderful sport. But at it's core Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is still a martial art. The word 'martial' is defined as "being related to fighting or war". And that means you have to be ready throw down should the s**t hit the fan out there in the cold, cruel world. Sometimes in a street confrontation you should run away, sometimes you should look for improvised … [Read more...]

Five Reasons to Grapple in a Streetfight

5 reasons to grapple in a streetfight

A lot of self proclaimed self defence experts will emphatically and categorically tell you to "never, ever go to the ground in a streetfight."  But no single strategy works in every situation, and anyone telling you to always do something, or never do something, is automatically wrong. The truth is that you may well be forced to use your grappling skills in a self defense context. … [Read more...]

Jiu-Jitsu for the Zombie Apocalypse

Zombie Apocalypse Weapons1

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...]

How to Maintain Rear Mount, Improve Guillotines, and Thwart ‘Combatives’ Experts

Gripping for Rear Mount

Rear mount seems like such a simple position: I mean, you're basically just piggybacking on your opponent, right? Well, success in jiu-jitsu usually means doing simple, fundamental things with a high degree of sophistication and attention to detail. And rear mount is no different - switch your grip by a couple of inches, have your hand open instead of closed, do the wrong thing for even a … [Read more...]

Podcast EP16: Interview with Philip Gelinas

Philip Gelinas

This is an interview with one of my most influential teachers - 9th degree Kajukenbo Karate black belt Philip Gelinas.  Philip is also a high-ranking instructor in several different Filipino martial art systems, a BJJ brown belt, an instructor in Combat Submission Wrestling, and was recently inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame. Topics include the evolution of Georges St Pierre, the … [Read more...]

Podcast EP15: Burton Richardson on Training and Performing under Pressure

Burton rolling with Chris Leben before a UFC event

Stephan's note: today I interview Burton Richardson who has spent decades researching the training methods that make martial arts techniques practical, reliable, and functional.  His approach is very applicable to street self defence, but is equally valid for anyone wanting to compete. You can listen to, read, or download this interview in several different ways… Listen to the interview … [Read more...]

20,000 lbs of snow and the true meaning of self defense…

cabin in the snow

This is a rather rambling post; in the words of Mark Twain, "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead." First, and most importantly, I really hope that you had a great Christmas (or alternate celebration of your choice).  And that you got to spend time with friends, family and loved ones. Next, congratulations on surviving the Mayan Calendar Apocalypse!  … [Read more...]

Podcast EP11: Draculino talks about the Evolution of BJJ

Draculino talking about BJJ

Recently I managed to catch up with Vinicius 'Draculino' Magalhães and pick his brain about the ongoing evolution of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Draculino started training in Rio in the 1980's, back in the days when many of the big names in BJJ were just young kids with blue and purple belts around their waists. Plus he's trained many great competitors in the sport, as well as having personally … [Read more...]

Get Up, Stand Up!


Why getting off the ground is a critical skills in grappling! (originally published in Black Belt Magazine) When mixed martial arts competition exploded in North America, martial artists quickly learned that most fights end up on the ground. And for years the prevailing wisdom was that groundfighting was inevitable, and if a fight went to the ground it would most likely stay there. … [Read more...]

Podcast EP8: Tony Blauer on Fitness, Fear Management, and Combat Psychology


I just interviewed Tony Blauer.  He's the head of Blauer Tactical Systems which specializes in close quarter tactics & scenario-based training for law enforcement, military and professional self-defense instructors. We had a great conversation about Crossfit, fear management, adrenaline dumps, and his recent 'immersion' in BJJ... This is pretty relevant stuff!  Everybody (who's not … [Read more...]

Podcast EP5: A Woman’s Jiu-Jitsu Journey from White Belt to Black Belt

Emily Kwok Triptych

In this feature interview I talk with Emily Kwok who is a very smart, very talented jiu-jitsu practitioner. She's been involved in the woman's competition circuit for a long time, having competed both with and without the gi, and in MMA overseas. Her ability as a teacher of jiu-jitsu - to both men and women - is proved every time she steps on the mats at her BJJ Academy in Princeton, … [Read more...]