How To Do the Bow and Arrow Choke

Emily bow and arrow choke

The Bow and Arrow Choke is one of the top ten most successful submissions in BJJ. And when you get to the upper ranks - purple, brown and black - where people really know how to prevent and counter many of the 'easy' submissions - the Bow and Arrow is one of the top three submissions in BJJ competition. My point is that if you do BJJ you've gotta know how to do the Bow and Arrow Choke! In … [Read more...]

Can You Cross Your Ankles in Back Mount?

When is it OK to cross your ankles in back mount?

"Never cross your ankles when you're in back mount!" This rule is often taught as gospel to BJJ beginners. Truly, it's not a bad rule of thumb to start with.  But there are exceptions to every rule, and that's what this article is all about... The back mount is one of the very best positions in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.  From the back you can submit your opponent with some very powerful … [Read more...]

How to do the Reverse Butterfly Sweep

How to do the reverse butterfly sweep

I talk a lot about the butterfly guard around here; it's one of my very favourite guard positions.  It's powerful, it's mobile, and it's fun. There's no doubt that the workhorse of the butterfly guard is the 'basic' butterfly sweep.  It's a tool that newcomers to jiu-jitsu can learn quickly, but is still being used by the top BJJ competitors on the planet. Now there's a move called the … [Read more...]

A Trick to Set Up the Grips You Need to Pass Your Opponent’s Guard

Guard Passing Grips

One of the keys to passing the guard effectively and efficiently is controlling the grip battle. But a quality opponent always be trying to block your grips.  Not only that: he wants to attack you with sweeps and submissions so at the same time he'll be trying to ensnare you with his own set of grips. As a result, when you're passing the guard you'll often end up in a pseudo-symmetrical … [Read more...]

Top 3 Armbar Mistakes in BJJ

Top 3 Armbar Errors in BJJ

The basic armbar is one of those bread-and-butter submission techniques in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. You just can't do BJJ without it, so it's SUPER important to understand this submission inside out! But I see people make the same silly errors for the armbar all the time. That's why I shot a quick and dirty video showing the three most common mistakes for the armbar (plus how to fix … [Read more...]

The 4 Most Common Errors For The ‘Upa’ Mount Escape

Mistakes made while trying the Upa Mount Escape

The 'Upa' (or 'Bridge and Roll') is probably the very first mount escape that a beginner ever learns. It's taught as part of the basic curriculum for a very simple reason: it works! You see this escape in MMA, submission grappling, and BJJ competition with the gi. I've used it as a white belt, blue belt, purple belt, brown belt and black belt. Contrary to what some people will tell you is … [Read more...]

How to Escape Kesa Gatame and the Headlock

How to escape Kesa gatame and the headlock

Kesa Gatame is one of the most under-utilized positions in BJJ. People in jiu-jitsu tend to ignore this position but generations of judo players and wrestlers have proved that Kesa Gatame IS a powerful and effective way to pin someone. And - even worse for someone caught in it - Kesa Gatame is also a great entry into some very effective armlocks, leglocks, neck cranks and diaphragm … [Read more...]

Leg Action in Rear Mount – How to Put the Squeeze on Your Opponent

Full rear mount with harness on upper body and proper leg action

The rear mount is one of the very best positions you can get in BJJ. In rear mount you're behind your opponent and can attack him with chokes and armlocks (not to mention strikes in an MMA or self defense context).  And there's pretty much bugger all that he can do to you... But it can be a lot of work to get here.  You have to pass his guard, induce him to turn, secure your grips, get your … [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...]

How To Do The Lapel-Based Brabo Choke in the Gi

Brabo choke inside the half guard with the lapel of your opponent

From our very first day on the mat we're taught to pass the guard before attacking with a submission. Pass... Establish position... And only then try to submit! So when a technique like the gi-based Brabo choke comes along it seems very counterinintuitive. Because in it you stay in his half guard, you don't try to pass, and you still attack with a choke. Every rule - including the primacy … [Read more...]

Don’t Build Your BJJ Game on White Belt Techniques.

Whitebelt BJJ techniques

Certain BJJ techniques are 'white belt' moves.  Which means they might be effective against white belts (and sometimes blue belts) but then stop working once you move up to opponents of a higher skill level. Basically you can pull off just about anything on a newbie.  They make rookie mistakes because they're, well, rookies.  Whitebelts don't instinctively know how to move to prevent, defend or … [Read more...]

A de la Riva Guard Submission: the Triangle Choke

de la Riva guard submission - the triangle choke

The de la Riva guard is often thought of as primarily being a sweeping tool.  But you can also land a lot of different submissions from de la Riva guard too!  The main submissions include the triangle choke, omoplata, armbar and a few leglocks. Here's one of my very favorite de la Riva guard submissions demonstrated by Brandon 'Wolverine' Mullins.  But before I go on I have to confess … [Read more...]

What is de la Riva Guard?

what is the de la Riva guard

The de la Riva guard was initially created by and popularised by Ricardo de la Riva, but in the past few years it has exploded in popularity. Many world titles have been won entirely due to the competitor's skill in the de la Riva guard position.  And that's because of a couple of things... First of all, if done correctly it offers an extraordinary level of control over your opponent, … [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...]

The BJJ Self Defense Experiment

Other submissions that were used in the BJJ Self Defense Experiment

Have you ever wondered if your BJJ would stand up in a self defense situation against an opponent determined to clean your clock with his fists? By the end of this article I'm hoping you'll have a much better idea of what to focus on to sharpen your BJJ skills for self defense purposes... The self defense implications of grappling are important to me (click here to see my other posts on the … [Read more...]

How to Throw Defensive, Stiff-Arming, Bent-Over Opponents

Judo throws vs defensive, bent over opponents

A reader writes... Question: Hi Stephan, I'm looking for a way to incorporate some of judo take-downs into my BJJ game, but I'm having a lot of difficulty finding throws that work with the low center of gravity that is so central to the jiu-jitsu defence against throws. The defensive bent-over posture makes it nearly impossible to get good access to their hips, or even their legs while … [Read more...]

The de la Riva Guard

de-la-Riva

By Don Whitefield and Stephan Kesting We asked BJJ legend Ricardo de la Riva to show us the Five Most Imporant Techniques from the 'de la Riva Guard! Here's what he showed us, and we'll go through each one of them! The Basic de la Riva Sweep The Reverse de la Riva Sweep The Entangled Leg Sweep The Back Trip Sweep The Cross Knee Guard Pass Counter Ricardo de la Riva is a slight … [Read more...]

How to Take the Back from X Guard

How to take the back from X Guard

It's almost impossible to use the Butterfly Guard without also using the X Guard... When you attack with the Butterfly Guard your opponent is going to be doing his absolute best to shut you down. For example, that means that he'll be posting hands and feet all over the place to stop you from sweeping him. When he posts his hands or otherwise gets them out of position it opens up … [Read more...]

Hitting the Omoplata from the Butterfly Guard

butterfly guard to omoplata

Many people use the butterfly guard only as a sweeping position. But that's a mistake because you can also hit powerful submissions from the butterfly guard. In fact attacking with sweeps sets up submissions, and attacking with submissions sets up sweeps.  Attacking with both from any guard position makes your game so much more effective; why would you want to limit yourself to only one or the … [Read more...]

How to Stop the Double Underhooks Guard Pass

How to stop the double underhooks guard pass

The double underhooks guard pass is one of the low passes you see most in high level competition. It's favored by big, strong dudes who love to smash people. Once they get your hips hoisted up and your body bent in half you feel pretty vulnerable. At that point they can pass your guard, take your back, move to the crucifix, or any number of horrible, nasty finishes. So you've GOT to have an … [Read more...]