How To Find the High Percentage BJJ Techniques You Can Rely On

high percentage guard retention

As a young martial artist I once debated whether a certain Kung Fu striking technique could actually work in a real fight. To prove my point I mentioned that a bouncer I knew had successfully used that technique on a drunk in the bar the other night The guy I was arguing with shut me down with a devastatingly simple rebuttal, “Yeah Stephan, that doesn't prove anything, because ANYTHING will … [Read more...]

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... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0HTOI9qKkk I get a lot of questions asking for tips, tricks and … [Read more...]

Leg Lasso Spider Guard Pass

How to pass leg lasso spider guard with Rob Biernacki

If you've ever been caught in the leg lasso position by someone with a good spider guard then you'll know exactly how a fly feels when it gets caught in the web of a big, old, nasty spider... Basically, in a correctly executed leg lasso spider guard you're in deep trouble! Your arms are both trapped so you won't be able to make effective grips.  Because of the tremendous leverage of the … [Read more...]

BREAKING NEWS: Rare German Jiu-Jitsu Footage Discovered, Changes Martial Arts Forever

german jiu-jitsu

In the extensive Grapplearts video vaults I recently discovered rare archival footage of an incredibly deadly martial art that I had somehow missed... This savage system of self defense is called 'German Jiu-Jitsu' and as the GermanJiujitsu.com website so clearly and succinctly states, it is clearly clearly much better than all other kinds of jiu-jitsu. Watch the video below and tell me if … [Read more...]

Movements and Transitions from Knee on Belly

Knee on Belly Movements and Transitions

When I first learned the knee on belly position I was told that you should use it for two reasons... Get two points in a tournment, and/or Put so much weight on your opponent and making him so uncomfortable that he would open up his defences and give you the chance to armbar or choke him. Now points and pressure are still totally valid uses of the knee mount.  For example, I think using … [Read more...]

A Simple Tweak to Develop a Powerful Bridge in BJJ

A high, powerful BJJ Bridge

The bridge is one of the most important movements in all of BJJ. It is one of the three critical pin escape movements and can be used to escape almost every bad position. For example, the classic (and highly effective) 'Upa' mount escape would not exist without bridging your hips high up to ceiling before turning your body and getting out of the mount. And my favourite way of escaping … [Read more...]

Should You Compete in BJJ Tournaments?

Do you need to compete to get your BJJ black belt?

I often get asked whether competition is essential to BJJ, and if you need to have competed to get promoted to black belt. (If you prefer to watch or listen to me talk about this this topic then just scroll to the bottom of this blog post and look for the video called "Do you need to compete to get your black belt"). The quick answers are: no, you don't necessarily need to compete.  And no, … [Read more...]

How to do the Armbar Without Crushing Your Balls

How to prevent your balls from getting crushed during the armbar

It's a question that I get from BJJ beginners all the time, "How do I do the armbar without crushing my balls in the process?" And it's a legitimate problem for people starting out their BJJ career.  In fact, it's a simple equation... Elbow + Groin = OUCH!! Now you could wear a cup, but most intermediate and advanced players don't do that unless they're training for MMA. Instead of … [Read more...]

A 4 x World Champion Teaches the Omoplata from Closed Guard

omoplata from the closed guard by Bernardo Faria

In this video my friend (and 4 x world champion) Bernardo Faria takes you through the old school omoplata armlock from the closed guard. I have seen Bernardo tap out everybody, from white belt to black belt, using ONLY the omoplata armlock at one of his seminars. It was incredible.  So needless to say he's really bloody good with the omoplata and a great person to study for this attack! As … [Read more...]

A Hidden Danger When Martial Artists Get Injured…

Martial Arts Injuries: a Hidden Danger

If you're doing a 'real' martial art then it's going to involve some form of contact... And if you're doing any contact activity for long enough then, eventually, you're going to get injured. Now hopefully your injury won't be anything serious; maybe just a sprain, a bad bruise, or a tweak that will heal quickly. But in the worst case scenario - especially if it's a serious injury like an … [Read more...]

A Powerful Choke from Knee on Belly

knee on belly choke

Knee on belly (also known as Kneemount) is a super-dominant position in jiu-jitsu. If you're using this position correctly then you're driving down into your opponent with all your weight, making it hard for him to breathe, and forcing him to give you openings for submissions (click here to read 3 Ways to Get a Really Heavy Kneemount on Grapplearts). Most typically the guy on the bottom of … [Read more...]

How to Make Your Chokes Tighter

BJJ Choke Mechanics

Psst, wanna tap out more people with chokes, including that super-tough guy with the giant neck? Success in choking is all about the details and getting the underlying mechanics correct. Yes, you can get chokes to work with bad technique - people do it all the time.  But it's difficult, wastes a lot of energy, and isn't very high percentage. But on the other hand as soon as you get the … [Read more...]

Base, Posture and Structure, the 3 Most Important Concepts in BJJ

Base, posture and structure - the 3 most critical bjj concepts

The idea that overall body alignment in BJJ can be broken down into 3 components (base, posture and structure) was introduced to me by Rob Biernacki. And I have found these 3 concepts to have hugely practical applications on the mat. There is power in definitions and distinctions because it allows you to clarify your thinking and problem solving processes. So let's take a look at base, … [Read more...]

The Two Most Important Guard Retention Techniques

high percentage guard retention

Retaining your guard and preventing guard passes can seem like a daunting task. There are so many techniques that your opponent might use to try and pass your guard.  Do you need to learn a different technique to counter each combination and permutation of grips, movement and body positioning you might run into? Not at all.  There may be many different guard passing techniques, but there are … [Read more...]

Butterfly Guard: Get Up, Sit Up, Get Up Off Your Back!

How to sit up and get off your back in butterfly guard

The Butterfly Guard is a very powerful sweeping position where you sit on your butt, leaning slightly forward, with both of your feet inside your opponent's legs (click here for a quick intro to the butterfly guard on Grapplearts.com). However you do NOT want to be flat on your back when you're playing butterfly guard. When you're lying back like that you almost all the power behind your … [Read more...]

Kurt Osiander Interview – the Barbarian of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Kurt Osiander BJJ Interview

I've just released the latest podcast (episode 35), featuring an interview with Mr Kurt Osiander. Kurt is an old-school BJJ black belt under Ralph Gracie.  He's known for his no BS communication style, his informative Youtube instructional videos, and his swearing (this interview is definitely not for the ears of little children or the overly sensitive). The topics we cover include... … [Read more...]

Stephan’s on Snapchat

Stephan Kesting on Snapchat

Hey, I'm now on the social video app Snapchat! I'm sharing some BJJ tips there almost every day, plus a little bit of behind-the-scenes footage of what goes on at the Grapplearts Evil Schemes Lair (TM). Most of what I've posted on Snapchat disappears within 24 hours (it's the nature of the platform). If you're interested in BJJ and the martial arts in general then follow me on snapchat! … [Read more...]

Are my legs too short to apply the triangle choke?

Triangle with Short Legs

The first time I ever saw the triangle choke in action was in 1994, during the last match of UFC 4. Royce Gracie had just squared off against Dan Severn, a seemingly unstoppable wrestler with a huge weight advantage.  I remember thinking, 'There's just no possible way that Royce is gonna win this one.' The fight went to the ground quickly, and after 15 minutes of getting manhandled Royce … [Read more...]

Here’s Why Your Guard Attacks Don’t Work

why most guard attacks fail

When you first learn an sweep or a submission from the guard you usually learn the steps in a 1, 2, 3 manner. "First grab the sleeve and lapel like this... Then open your legs and escape your hips... Now put your foot on the hip and pull him forward...." And so on Then you go ahead, learn all the steps, and get your repetitions in.  You do all the prep work. But then, when you try to … [Read more...]

How to Counter the Bullfighter / Matador Pass

How to counter the bullfighter / matador pass

In the 'Bullfighter' (aka 'Matador' aka 'Toreando') guard pass, you grab your opponent's legs, push them to the ground, and then run around to the side. (There are some refinements to this technique, of course, but even the super basic version I just described can be super-difficult to stop if you're facing someone who is explosive, athletic, and determined.) If you're on the bottom using … [Read more...]