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Kimura Armlock from North-South Position

The first time I saw this Kimura variation from the north-south position I said to myself, “Yeah right, that’ll never work in a million, billion years!

And that’s because it looked like you had no control over his body,

But the funny thing was that when I actually started training it then it felt pretty good…

And then I started catching people in it and tapping them out…

And now, years later, it’s one of my very favourite ways to finish the Kimura.

To apply this submission you don’t need to be fast, athletic or powerful (which is why I jokingly call it the lazy, old, fat man Kimura).  The critical thing here is to drop all your weight onto his shoulder using the edge of your ribcage which then completely cuts off his arm from the rest of his body.

You don’t actually need any weight on his body  – he can thrash around all he wants, but you’ve still got his arm and can still apply the joint lock.

Anyhow, I’m excited to share this submission with you.  Trust me, this one works great!

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Lapel Drag from Butterfly Guard and from Standing

The lapel drag (aka collar drag) is an incredibly important move from the butterfly guard.  It’s a legitimate sweep, but it’s also an amazing setup for many other attacks.

It’s also low risk and doesn’t require an elaborate grip to set it up.

In this Youtube video Rob Biernacki shows some of the black belt details that’ll make this sweep MUCH more effective, even against skilled, larger opponents!

The technique above was a lapel drag performed from the butterfly guard against a kneeling opponent. But you can also do the same move from the feet as a takedown.

This technique is functionally illegal in Judo, but in BJJ it’s a high percentage and fairly safe way get a match to the ground. In the video below my friend Ritchie Yip shows you how to do it.

Whether you’re using the lapel drag on the ground or on the feet you always have to be prepared to follow up with other techniques.

In the first video at the top of this page you saw Rob Biernacki connect the lapel drag sweep with the single leg takedown from wrestling.

This is a very powerful combination, and I’m not the only person who thinks so!  Here are a couple of multiple time BJJ world champions showing you their own particular approach for this takedown combo…

Here’s Cobrinha, 6 time world champion, showing you how he likes to do the collar drag to single leg

And here’s my friend Bernardo Faria, 4 time world champion and 3 time Pan American champion, with his variation of the same move:

So there you have it – a powerful, low risk sweep and takedown that doesn’t require a ton of coordination… What are you waiting for?  Get out there and start drilling it!!!

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Older Grappler Training Q & A

In this episode of The Strenuous Life Podcast I answer lots of questions by older grapplers about continuing to train and make good progress when you’re in your 40’s, 50’s and beyond.

Can you still train hard as you get older? How often should you train? How can you recover faster? Should you also do weight training as an older athlete And more!

The questions came from an Instagram Live broadcast I did; follow me on Instagram @stephan_kesting and maybe next time I’ll be answering YOUR question on one of these Q&A sessions.

You can listen to this episode (number 097) on the player below but it’d be even better if you subscribed to my Strenuous Life Podcast which is available on iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, or Stitcher.

P.S. If you’re an older grappler you can click here to check out these other Grapplearts articles, videos and podcasts on the topic

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A Simple Tweak for a Killer Triangle Choke

In the late 1990’s I had the pleasure of training with UFC fighter and Sambo champion Oleg Tartarov a number of times. And it turned out that not only was he a tough, skilled and relentless competitor, but he was also a very skilled teacher.

Here’s a detail about the triangle choke that he showed me that I share just about every time I ever teach this move.

It’s all about how hiding the shoulder makes the triangle choke so much tighter!

This is only a 2 minute video and it could transform your triangle choke, so check it out!

Basically the key takeaway is that if you can see his shoulder peeping out at you then the choke is NOT going to be as tight as it could be.

Plus if you have short legs, or if he’s got a big neck and shoulders, you could be in trouble because your legs will always be in danger of popping open.

So the important thing is to bring your head slightly closer to his knee, cut your top leg right across the back of his neck, and hide his shoulder with the back of your hamstring.

If you watch the video above you can see my demonstration partner’s head instantly become much redder the second his shoulder disappears.

Here’s a summary graphic I made of the key detail that I posted on my Instagram feed (where you can find me as @stephan_kesting)…

If you can see your opponent’s shoulder peeping out at you when you’re applying the triangle choke then it’s NOT as tight as it could be. Adjust your angle and bring your hamstring over his shoulder to make the choke 3 times as tight. Check out the full video on YouTube (YouTube.com/stephankesting) and/or on Facebook (Facebook.com/grapplearts) to see how much more purple my demo partner’s head becomes as soon as the shoulder is hidden. #trianglechoke #bjj #jiujitsu #brazilianjiujitsu #submissionwrestling #submissiongrappling #submissions #choke #grapplearts

A post shared by Stephan Kesting (@stephan_kesting) on Nov 4, 2017 at 8:00am PDT

And before you go I should leave you with » Continue Reading.

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How a Judo Olympian Takes the Back

Travis Stevens is a 3 time Judo Olympian, an Olympic silver medalist, and a BJJ black belt.

So he’s deadly on his feet but is also really slick on the ground. In fact his ground attacks were a huge part of his very successful run at the 2016 Olympics.

He shared 3 really cool ways to take the back while passing the guard with me, and I was fortunate enough to get it on video for you.

All these methods are linked together by the same concept he learned from John Danaher, namely “If I can see your back then I can take your back”

Here’s his video about taking the back on Youtube.

Check it out – this is really good stuff!

P.S.  I also did a really interesting podcast episode with Travis – click here for more information on how to listen to that!

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Cults, Comets and Critical Thinking!

I’ve just released a new podcast episode (episode 093) just out that starts with martial arts training and ends up talking about mass suicides and alien spaceships trailing comets…

At it’s core it’s a rant about the importance of testability, falsifiability, and critical thinking.

You can listen to this episode (number 093) on my Strenuous Life Podcast which is available on iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, or Stitcher.

Or you can just click play below, but then you won’t catch future episodes like you would if you subscribed at one of the podcast provider services above!

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New Podcast with Historian Daniele Bolelli: How Violent Was Our Past, Really?

Daniele Bolelli is a martial artist, historian and the creator of the History on Fire podcast. But this time I managed to get him for a return visit to my own Strenuous Life Podcast (Click here for information about our first podcast together).

You can listen to this podcast in Episode 092 of my Strenuous Life Podcast, which is available on iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, or Stitcher.

You can also listen to the podcast on Youtube in the video at the bottom of this post!

Here’s just a bit of what we covered…

The evidence for and against an ultra-violent human past vs a peaceful noble savage model of our hunter-gatherer past The rise of MMA in Asia.His process of researching and producing History on Fire, one of the leading history podcasts How to get rid of weight cutting in mixed martial arts competition Daniele’s proposed ‘Gladiators for World Peace’ program and how it’s going to get him the Nobel Peace Prize His return to Italy as a tourist Is it too soon to tell whether we’re moving towards a more peaceful future? Ötzi the iceman, Neanderthal DNA in our genomes, and a mass murder that occurred 430,000 years ago And much more!

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Jiu-Jitsu for the Zombie Apocalypse

As we get closer and closer to Halloween it’s important to shift your priorities from training jiu-jitsu to surviving the impending zombie apocalypse.

(After all, it’s tough to train jiu-jitsu when you’re dead.  Or undead, as the case may be.)

That’s why you’ve got to check out the most important video I’ve ever put onto Youtube: Jiu-Jitsu for the Zombie Apocalypse.

A lot of people will tell you that jiu-jitsu will be useless when the Zombie Apocalypse hits.  But those people have an agenda: usually they’re trying to sell you flamethrowers, or have stocks in the big arms companies.

The truth is that the better your jiu-jitsu and grappling skills are, then better your odds become of surviving long enough to get to your arsenal, your giant vehicle, and making it to the safezone.

This video was a lot of fun to make, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t very important stuff in it. Check it out right now and thank me later!

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Podcast with Clint Davies, the 10 x New Zealand Wrestling Champion Who is Also Legally Blind

Clint Davies is an amazing human being.

Legally blind since age 2, he is also a 10 time New Zealand national champion who competes against sighted opponents.  He also has multiple Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu national championships under his belt and has competed in the world championships.

His goal is to be the craziest blind guy you’ve ever met, and this podcast may just convince you of this!

You can listen to my interview with him in podcast 089 of my Strenuous Life Podcast, which is available on iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, or Stitcher.

Or if you don’t use any podcast players (and you should) then you can listen to it here by clicking on the player below.

P.S. It would be hugely appreciated if you were to subscribe to and give this podcast a rating if you find it useful. That sort of support is really helping us produce more episodes!

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Defense vs the Over-Under Guard Pass

The ‘over-under’ pass is a pressure-based technique for passing the guard which is used quite successfully in high level competition.  In part it’s a great pass because you don’t have to be particularly fast or nimble to pull it off.

When you’re on the bottom and defending this pass, however, life can really suck…

Not only is it an effective pass, but it’s a tiring one to defend.  You’re bearing all of your opponent’s weight, and he can gradually grind you down.  Your legs get tired, it gets hard to breathe, and your reactions get slower.

So if you spend any time on the bottom then you have to have a way to counter this pass!

I asked three time Olympian, Judo silver medalist, and BJJ black belt Travis Stevens how he defends this pass, and he ended up showing me a really cool defense using an unorthodox triangle choke technique (it’s a variation of the yoko-sangaku choke, the side triangle, which is often used by judoka to attack the turtle position).

I’ve had the pleasure of having this yoko-sangaku submission applied to me, and the pressure is horrendous!  But in the way Travis does it makes it even worse!

Here’s the video of Travis Stevens doing this exact over-under guard pass defense to me and breaking down how to do it.  Check it out!

If it helps you remember this move then here are the simplified steps as I broke them down for a post on my @stephan_kesting instagram feed.

As you can see, it’s critical to sneak your feet into the correct position, then push to create a bit of room and swing your top leg into the sangaku (triangle) position.  Once you’ve got your legs in position it’s all about manoeuvring your body to be able to generate maximum pressure and submission power!

A quick summary of how to defend against the over-under pass and counter with a triangle choke by @judosilencer Travis Stevens #grappling #nogi #sangaku #sangamujime #guardpasscounter #bjjtechnique #judotechnique #newaza #grapplingtechnique #grapplearts

A post shared by Stephan Kesting (@stephan_kesting) on Oct » Continue Reading.

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Escaping the Reverse Mount the Proper Way

The reverse mount is a tricky position…

If you’re opponent has you caught in it then he’s placing a tremendous amount of pressure on your diaphragm, which makes it hard to breath.  He also has lots of entries to kneebars, heel hooks, leg laces, and other submissions available to him.

Compounding the problem is the fact that it’s not a very common position, meaning that most people don’t have a lot of experience defending and escaping it.

Escaping the reverse mount is essentially a two step process…

Freeing your legs and getting them to the floor, and Getting ready to move your hips the instant your opponent decides to shift his weight to attack or go to another position

In the video below I give you a quick breakdown of how to do both steps.  Thanks to my coach and friend Erik Paulson for showing me this counter in the early 2000’s!

P.S.  The reverse mount is integrally connected to leglock attacks.  If you want to improve your leglock attacks check out the Modern Leglock Formula that I did with Rob Biernacki – it’s a very comprehensive study of the highest percentage leglocks working in a no-gi competition environment.

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New podcast with Travis Stevens, 3 x Judo Olympian, Olympic Silver Medalist, and BJJ Black Belt

In this episode of the Strenuous Life Podcast I go deep with 3 x Judo Olympian and BJJ black belt Travis Stevens.

We go DEEP into his training regimen, including

Why he does 5 or 6 workouts a day What the strength benchmarks are for effective judo Why mental fatigue is often just as much a limiting factor as physical fatigue How he uses his groundwork skills to force his opponents to make critical errors The critical importance of gripfighting The differences between his BJJ and Judo training And much more.

It’s an amazing episode that I’m sure you’ll find very interesting.

You can listen to this podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, or Stitcher.

Or if you don’t use any podcast players (and you should) then you can listen to it here by clicking on the player below.

P.S. It would be hugely appreciated if you were to subscribe to and give this podcast a rating if you find it useful. That sort of support is really helping us produce more episodes!

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Avoiding Injuries, Training after Age 50, and the Blue Belt Blues…

In this episode of the Strenuous Life Podcast I tried to answer as many questions as possible from my email newsletter readers

Whether BJJ gameplans really are for everyone (3:30), How to pace yourself against the young guys when you’re 52 years old (8:36), The best stretches for grappling flexibility (13:12), What are the best drills for developing a specific position (15:30), What’s my hypothetical plan for creating a BJJ world champion if I had a young clone of myself (18:41), When will the single leg X guard and modern leg lock formula instructionals be released as apps (28:28), What should your focus be if you’re training purely for self defense (29:35), Ranking physical attributes in order of importance for BJJ competition (32:22), Bodyweight fitness routines (38:00), Tips for dealing with knuckle and finger pain (40:50), What’s a good balance between weight training and BJJ for healthy joints (44:30), Is 5′ 9″ too small to do BJJ (50:10), Training around knee pain (52:05), Post training nutrition tips (55:35), Flexibility for older grapplers (57:05), Are you being rude to your partners when you want to go light because of injury concerns (59:25), How can you deal with getting promoted to blue belt but not thinking that you deserve it (1:03:54)? And more…

You can listen to this podcast on iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, or Stitcher.

Or if you don’t use any podcast players (and you should) then you can listen to it here by clicking on the player below.

P.S. It would be hugely appreciated if you were to subscribe to and give this podcast a rating if you find it useful. That sort of support is really helping us produce more episodes!

The post Avoiding Injuries, Training after Age 50, and the Blue Belt Blues… appeared first on Grapplearts.

Are You Just Not Getting Any Better? Here are 3 Steps to Bust Your Training Plateau

When you’re training hard, hitting a training plateau can be incredibly frustrating.

But first of all, let’s hit on an important distinction.

A training ‘slump’ and a training ‘plateau’ are two different things…

I go into detail about the differences between slumps and plateaus in this article here, but basically a slump is a relatively short-lived event, one to four weeks long, in which your skill level actually goes down.  Usually it’s caused by a specific cause, for example illness, overtraining, or not enough sleep.  Fix the underlying cause and your level starts to improve again.

But when you’re in a plateau you don’t get any worse.  The problem is that, no matter how hard you try, you just don’t get any better either.

It’s one thing to suffer if you’re making progress towards a goal; at least there’s light at the end of the tunnel.  Suffering without progress is much harder to deal with.

A plateau typically lasts much longer than a slump – often one to six months.  It seems like it’s never going to end.  And it’s doubly frustrating because during this time your  training partners usually insist on continuing to make progress, which widens the gap and leaves you even further in the dust.

Everybody deals with plateaus if they only train long enough.

In the video below, which I shot right at the end of a frustrating cardio session, I talk about the three steps to break out of a training slump…

First, don’t freak out. Plateaus are a normal part of any long learning or training process.

Of course jiu-jitsu players hit slumps, but it happens in every endeavor.

Runners hit plateaus when their running times just stop improving. Academics hit plateaus when they just don’t have any new insights. Businesses hit plateaus when they just stop growing.

Plateau Buster 1 – Try to Identify the Underlying Cause of the Plateau

This isn’t always possible, but if you can figure out what’s causing your plateau then you can fix it.

For many people the underlying cause is training volume.

Maybe you’ve gotten as good as you can get training twice a week.  Yes, every time you go to class you learn something new, but in between classes you also forget stuff.  Maybe at twice a week the knowledge flows into your cup as fast as it drains from it, and that’s what’s causing » Continue Reading.

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New Strenuous Life Podcast Episode with 5 x BJJ World Champion Bernardo Faria

I’ve just released a KILLER new podcast episode with 5 x BJJ World Champion on my Strenuous Life Podcast.

(This is episode 086 of the podcast for anyone keeping track.)

In this episode we talk about

Bernardo’s ‘kidnapping’ in the Philippines two years ago His thoughts on the results of ADCC 2017 The toughest guys he has ever rolled with Whether you can get your BJJ black belt without competing The connection between jiu-jitsu and entrepreneurship Whether North America will ever catch up to Brazil in jiu-jitsu And much more, so check it out!

Click here to get this podcast in iTunes or search your podcast provider for “The Strenuous Life Podcast”

Also if you get the chance, subscribe to the podcast.  I’ve got a TON of interesting guests and topics lined up for the near future…

Cheers, Stephan

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