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...]

Five Tricks to Tighten Up Your Sidemount

how to tighten up sidemount

There's nothing worse than weathering the storm in someone's guard, passing their guard by fighting your way past their legs, finally getting to sidemount, making one tiny mistake and then - boom - you're back in their guard. It's tiring, demoralising, and leaves you open to getting swept or tapped out. No!  After doing all that work you want to stay in sidemount, make them pay for giving … [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...]

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...]

The 16 Most Important Techniques for the BJJ Beginner

16 BJJ Beginner Techniques

What's the most common problem (aside from getting caught under side control) facing the BJJ beginner? It's probably feeling overwhelmed by the staggering number of techniques that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu contains! There are a thousand variations of sweeps and locks and chokes and pins and escapes and guard passes.  It's enough to make your head spin! So where then do you start?  Which … [Read more...]

A Better Armbar?

Another armbar using both hands, this time in MMA

The armbar, as it is usually taught, involves using BOTH of your hands or arms to control ONE of your opponent's arms. This two-on-one control can be used when trying to break through your opponent's defenses, as in the photo below: The two-on-one arm control is usually retained right until your opponent taps out to the finalized armbar, as in the following photo: Now this regular … [Read more...]

A High Percentage Triangle Choke from Half Guard

half guard triangle choke - arm moved across

In this new video my friend, BJJ black belt and world champion Brandon ‘Wolverine’ Mullins shows how to set up and finish his favourite submission from the half guard. As you watch it pay attention not only to the details of the movement, but it's really the underlying pattern of bridging and shrimping that powers the whole technique. Breaking a technique down into its fundamental components … [Read more...]

How To Use Moves You Already Know to Do Advanced Techniques

From Advanced BJJ Fundamentals mobile app

We've just launched the latest Grapplearts BJJ instructional mobile app with my friend Brandon 'Wolverine' Mullins. It's called Advanced BJJ Fundamentals. The name of this app isn't accidental, because it's all about using the fundamental building blocks of jiu-jitsu to make learning easier, to amplify the effectiveness and reliability of your techniques, and to build an advanced … [Read more...]

Podcast EP30: BJJ Q&A – Popular Reader Questions Answered

BJJ Podcast

I recently did the second-ever Grapplearts Radio Q&A format podcast.  In it I answered questions from my newsletter readers. In this particular podcast we cover many topics, including How to come back to BJJ training after an injury... and not lose your mind while you're rehabbing... Options for transitioning out of Z guard (and half guard in general) to open guard How to improve … [Read more...]

How to Stop the Leg Shuck Pass

timthumb (1)

The leg shuck pass has become a very popular, very powerful way to pass the guard. This pass is applied from the feet against many types of open guard. It involves an angle change, hipping in, and pushing your opponent's leg out of position. If all goes well then you end up in a very good position on your opponent's side. You should definitely be familiar with the leg shuck, especially if … [Read more...]