The Mental Aspect

BJJ Competition Mindset Tips

Tips for competition mindset

Here's a video that I shot with Rob Biernacki and one of his visiting students in response to a question I'd received from an email newsletter subscriber about competing at your very best in BJJ tournaments. You can watch the video below or scroll down to see the main points that we covered... I get a lot of questions asking for tips, tricks and … [Read more...]

The Secret to Getting Your Black Belt

Getting Your Black Belt 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...]

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...]

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...]

47 Favourite Martial Arts and Inspiration Quotes

Martial Arts Quotes

I love pithy quotes: in just a few short words they can encapsulate an entire strategy, philosophy, or approach to life.  That's why more than 10 years ago I published a short article with some of my favourite grappling and martial arts quotes. Well, I've come across a lot more great quotes in the last decade! I typically share the new quotations I discover on my Twitter and/or Instagram … [Read more...]

Podcast EP 34: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Principles with Rob Biernacki (plus Ninjas, Insane Martial Arts Instructors and Martial Arts Cults)

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu principles with Rob Biernacki

The latest episode of the Grapplearts Radio Podcast is out.  In it I talk with Rob Biernacki, a friend, BJJ black belt, and contributor to Grapplearts (see the videos and articles he's been involved with here). Rob is known for his analytical style of teaching BJJ.  He doesn't focus on being a 'technique collector, but rather specialises in sharing the underlying principles and concepts that … [Read more...]

Podcast EP33: Leglocks with Eddie ‘Wolverine’ Cummings

Leglocks with Eddie Cummings

In this episode of Grapplearts Radio I quiz Eddie Cummings - one of the very best leglock artists active on the competition scene today - about every detail of his leglock game, including : Why the heel hook is one of the most efficient submissions for self defense How to train leglocks safely How a world class grappling competitor spends his days Dead ends and rabbit holes that … [Read more...]

The Two-Month BJJ Survival Blues

Why BJJ beginners have such a hard time for a few months...

It's very common for new grapplers to become discouraged at about the 2 or 3 month mark. In the beginning this person sort of expected to get his ass kicked, but now (after a few months of classes) he is still STILL getting his ass kicked. His grappling game largely consists of lying there pinned while frantically defending submission attempts. This style of purely defensive and purely … [Read more...]

A Big Guard Passing Tip Learned from Boxing

Passing the Guard

Today I'm going to share a tip which - if you actually use it - should make your guard passes twice as effective as they are right now. I learned this a long time ago from my friend and training partner Ritchie Yip. One day we were sparring, and unlike our previous sparring session he was absolutely demolishing my guard.  It was as if I had butter legs and he was wielding a red-hot samurai … [Read more...]

Podcast EP31: BJJ Sports Psychology with Gustavo Dantas

Gustavo Dantas Interview About BJJ Sports Psychology

It's one thing to lose in BJJ competition if your opponent really is better than you.  But it's quite another to be beaten by an opponent that you KNOW you're better than... to underperform... not to live up to your potential. It sucks! The most common reason for losing to someone with lesser jiu-jitsu skills is that you psyched yourself out and lost the match mentally.  You can be in top … [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...]

Don’t Overthink Jiu-Jitsu

armbar in progress

Back when I was a brown belt I rolled with a large, strong, aggressive and completely unskilled white belt. This white belt was absolutely determined to illustrate the size difference between us by using all his weight and all his strength at all times. You know the type... At one point he was in my guard with his forearm across my throat. Essentially he was giving me the classic trigger … [Read more...]

A Mean Option When Your Opponent is Stalling in BJJ Sidemount

people on the bottom can often stall in sidemount

Have you ever trained BJJ with anyone who’s so desperate not to tap out that all they do is stall? Someone who’s whole ego is wrapped up in the idea that such-and-such brown belt hasn’t managed to submit them out recently? It’s one of the biggest traps the ego can lead someone into on the mats… Back in the day I trained with one of these guys who’s entire sense of jiu-jitsu self-worth was … [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...]

How to Come Up With New Jiu-Jitsu Techniques (and Succeed at Online Dating Too)


The key to having great ideas is to have LOTS of ideas.  Dream them up, test them out, and discard the bad ideas quickly! Almost all the new variations of jiu-jitsu techniques you dream up will die a lonely death in the graveyard of stupid ideas. Most of your brilliant new ideas will be crap.  Most things you try out in life will fail... Expect this and learn to welcome it. Speed towards … [Read more...]

Podcast EP29: Skepticism and the Martial Arts

Skepticism-and-the Martial-Arts

Skepticism is your best defense against the lies, hoaxes and magical thinking that are so rampant in the traditional martial arts. Join us on this Grapplearts Radio interview where I talk with Jeff Westfall about chi, the evolution of kata, insane martial arts teachers, Indonesian Silat counters to BJJ submissions, the chimpanzee brain, the fight or flight reflex, signs that you might have … [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...]

Taking Responsibility for Your Own BJJ Training

bjj competition

A Guest Article by Kaeli Sweigard When you choose your actions, you choose your consequences. I used to work with “at risk” youth, and this was something I constantly re-iterated to them. They would break into cars, and then complain about having to go to court. I wanted them to really grasp the fact that they could make a different decision, and they would get different results. I wanted them … [Read more...]

5 IBJJF Competition Mistakes You Don’t Have to Make


by Guest Author Joanna Trindade I'm a BJJ blue belt, and although I've competed in local tournaments before I recently had the opportunity to step it up a notch.  The plan was to compete at my first IBJJF tournament at the 2015 Chicago Summer Open. My teammate, coach and I drove the 1.5 hours from Milwaukee to Chicago at 6:30 in the morning. I wasn’t nervous for most of the drive except for … [Read more...]