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...]

IBJJF Rules for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Competition

IBJJF Rules Summary

If you want to know how to compete in BJJ it's absolutely critical to know the rules.   If you're planning on competing then you're likely going to spend hundreds of hours on the mat training getting ready.  Blood, sweat and tears will be spent in preparation. Wouldn't it suck to spend all that time, stress and energy getting ready to compete and then not be allowed to compete because you've … [Read more...]

Correct and Incorrect Sides of Rearmount

correct and incorrect sides of rearmount'

At the bottom of this article is a new video talking about the correct and incorrect side of rearmount. But first a little background... Nowadays most grapplers are realising that their default grip in the rearmount should be the over-under grip (also known as the 'seatbelt' or the 'harness'). This arm position offers a ton of control over your opponent but also many different attacking … [Read more...]

The Reverse Armbar from Closed Guard

The Reverse Armbar from Closed Guard

I was a white belt when I first saw the reverse armbar from closed guard (also known as the 'arm crush', the 'razor lock, and the 'cutting armbar'). At first I was pretty skeptical. I had all kinds of reasons why it probably wouldn't work. And then I started running into more and more people who had been submitted by it... And then I started getting caught in it too... And then I … [Read more...]

What’s the Right Stance for MMA?

Stances and Footwork in MMA

In MMA you see fighters using a variety of stances.  Some crouch, some stand upright, some look like wrestlers, others look like kick boxers.  And sometimes you see stances straight out of Karate, Capoeira, and Kung Fu... Given all these options how can fighters choose what'll work best for them?  Or, in simple terms, what's the best stance for MMA? Of course the answer is never so simple. … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

Blocking Headbutts in the Guard

Blocking headbutts from the bjj guard

As I've said many times before, BJJ is a fantastic sport and fitness activity but at it's core IT'S A MARTIAL ART. And that means you have to keep an eye on how this stuff would work in a real fight. Someone recently asked me what you can do to prevent getting knocked out if someone on top of you is trying to headbutt you into oblivion. Good question.  It's an important topic: before they … [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...]

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...]

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...]