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Podcast Episode 74 – Analysis of Leglock Game with Rob Biernacki

An 80/20 analysis of the leglocking game based on high level no gi competition, leglock safety, how to learn BJJ efficiently, best practises when teaching jiu-jitsu, and a ton more with BJJ black belt Rob Biernacki, my co-author of The Modern Leglock Formula available now at Grapplearts.com/leglocks

You can listen to this as Episode 74 of The Strenuous Life podcast, available on iTunesStitcherSoundcloud or Google Play.

Or you can listen to it in the embedded player below:

Have a listen, and a subscription, rating, and review on whatever podcast platform you use is always super appreciated!

The post Podcast Episode 74 – Analysis of Leglock Game with Rob Biernacki appeared first on Grapplearts.

Podcast Episode # 67 – The No Gi Competition Landscape with Matt Kwan

This is a great conversation I had with no gi competitor Matt Kwan in which we covered everything from domination of leglocks in the modern no gi grappling environment, to the influence of rule sets in determining the expression of a martial art, to balancing training with the rest of life life.  Give it a listen – I think you’ll like it!

 

You can also listen to this as episode 67 of the Strenuous Life podcast, available on  iTunesStitcherSoundcloud and Google Play.

Or you can listen to it in the embedded player below:

Follow Matt on Instagram @bjj_mattk or visit his school site http://www.www.onguardfc.com

The post Podcast Episode # 67 – The No Gi Competition Landscape with Matt Kwan appeared first on Grapplearts.

Podcast Episode 113 – A Close Call, and Avoiding Injuries!

The other day I almost tore a partner’s ACL off the bone, which would have required him to have surgery and many months of rehabilitation.

What happened exactly?

I was more experienced and a bit bigger than my training partner that day and we were doing some no gi sparring.

Because of the experience discrepancy I was hyper-focusing on a couple of very specific positions, namely Ashi Garami and the 411.

(This is a form of Targeted Sparring which is a great tool to use when you’re going against less experienced training partners – by limiting myself to only a couple positions and one submission it makes the match more even and better training for both of us.)

So we’re rolling, carefully and respectfully… I’ve tapped my training partner out a few times with heel hooks, all applied in slow motion…  He’s beginning to defend the leglocks more intelligently and I’m having to work a little harder to get them…

Everything is going the way it’s supposed to.

Then it almost ended very badly.

I had the Ashi Garami firmly in place, and was just finishing the dig part of the heel hook (where you get your wrist under his heel in preparation for finishing the lock).

And 99% of the time when I’m sparring that’s as far as I’ll go – no need to actually apply the heel hook.  At that point my partner typically knows he’s caught and will tap out.

But this new training partner didn’t know when to quit.  He tried to escape by spinning.

And, to make matters MUCH worse, he spun the wrong way!

Spinning or rotating can be part of an effective heel hook defense, BUT NOT WHEN YOU GO IN THE WRONG DIRECTION!!

Instead of relieving the pressure, spinning into the dig amplifies the power of the submission exponentially!

If I had remained still, not moving, his wrong-way-spin would have slammed his heel into my forearm.

He would have full power heel hooked himself, which can tear all sorts of ligaments in the knee, the foot and the ankle.

Fortunately I saw what was about to happen and completely released my grips without a second to spare.

The submission evaporated, he spun safely and ‘escaped.’

Then I sat him down and we had a good little chat about the dangers of spinning out of leglock if you don’t know which way to spin.

Now I’m » Continue Reading.

The post Podcast Episode 113 – A Close Call, and Avoiding Injuries! appeared first on Grapplearts.

Podcast Episode 80 – When Should Leglock Training Start?

What belt level should you start training leg locks at?  It depends a little bit on what your goals are and whether you’re doing gi or no gi, but it’s a lot sooner than you think EVEN if you’re competing only in the IBJJF rule set.  This podcast episode is excerpted from a 17 minute long Youtube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GQZPtpsg_U which takes you through how to do the actual leglocks and demonstrates some of the techniques that will instantly get you disqualified from an IBJJF tournament.

You can listen to this as Episode 80 of The Strenuous Life podcast, available on iTunesStitcherSoundcloud or Google Play.

Or you can listen to it in the embedded player below:

(A subscription, rating, and review on whatever podcast platform you use is always super appreciated!)

The post Podcast Episode 80 – When Should Leglock Training Start? appeared first on Grapplearts.

My Secret Method To Get An Advantage

In previous newsletters we’ve discussed what a grappling arms race is, and how in that situation you can use video self analysis to get an advantage over your training partners.

Today I want to briefly touch on one of MY secret weapons in the everlasting arms race in the dojo. That method is focused partner training.

Here is what I do. Suppose I consistently run into the same problem with a certain individual – perhaps he’s catching me with the same submission all the time, or he’s always countering my sweeping techniques, or whatever.

As we’re sparring I’ll try to make note of the problem – I might even put myself into the exact problem position on purpose, just so I can see exactly what my opponent is doing to make my life difficult.

Then I call up a different training partner, and we meet behind closed doors with the windows blacked out and the room swept for listening devices.

I show that partner the situation that is frustrating me, and we look at it from all angles and brainstorm for solutions.

Going back to the problem in this calm and controlled environment usually results in us soon having an answer to the original dilemma. The next step is to take it back to the original partner and see if it actually works in reality.

Here’s a video in which I talk about this process.  You can also see two examples of exactly how this methodology is used in practise…

The first example is how my friend and training partner figured out how to break apart my 411 leglock position defense (the nerve!)…

The second example is how I figured out a good counter to the triangle-legs-and-crossface kneebar escape!

Check it out:

Many of the sequences I teach in my instructionals were developed exactly like this.

First I had an initial attack that worked for a while…

Then my opponents figured out how to counter those attacks. And then I used focussed partner training to discover and refine the recounters to those counters.

As we leave this topic I want to emphasize once again that this arms race is a mutually beneficial process. After I use my new super-duper recounter one or two times in class, I then share it with my sparring partners. That way the cycle goes on and we both continue to grow.

The post My Secret Method To Get An Advantage appeared first on Grapplearts.

Kneel Or Stand to Pass the Guard?

I once drilled technique with a big, strong rock climber who had a grip from hell and tenacious isometric strength. I noticed how much he liked controlling my gi, breaking my posture and attacking with collar chokes.

Since I knew we were going to spar soon I formulated a simple sparring strategy: I told myself that as soon as I ended up in his guard I would stand up and not go back down onto my knees until I was past his guard.

Why did I do this?

Simple: I did NOT want him to latch onto my lapel and choke me silly, so I decided to take the risks of standing up instead!

Lets first look at your options…

A coarse classification divides guard passes into either standing or kneeling guard passes.

If you wanted to break it down a bit further you could say that there are standing and kneeling methods of opening a closed guard, and standing and kneeling methods of actually passing an opened guard. Both standing and kneeling methods have their strengths and weaknesses – I use them both, but I try to choose the appropriate approach for the situation.

Kneeling in your opponent’s guard makes you a little harder to sweep because your center of gravity is closer to the ground. If you are kneeling in an opponent’s guard your arms and neck are more easily available for him to attack, but it is quite difficult for him to leglock you.

If you choose to stand in order to pass the guard you make yourself a little more vulnerable to sweeps and leglocks. The advantage of standing passes is that you are more mobile and that it is harder for your opponent to attack you with chokes and armlocks.

How can you use this information?

If you have both standing and kneeling guard passes in your repertoire you can tailor your game to avoid your opponent’s strengths.

If your opponent specializes in chokes and/or armlocks then get to your feet whenever you end up in his guard and try to work your standing guard passes. If your opponent is a leg locking machine then consider engaging him on your knees.

Additionally, guard passing methods vary greatly from club to club. In some clubs kneeling guard passes predominate, whereas other schools tend to mix standing and kneeling guard passes. Schools that do a lot of » Continue Reading.

The post Kneel Or Stand to Pass the Guard? appeared first on Grapplearts.

Podcast Episode 125: Reilly Bodycomb on Sambo, Leglocks, MMA, Jiu-Jitsu and No Gi Grappling

I loved doing this interview with Reilly Bodycomb. Reilly is a Russian sambo and leglock expert who has competed in a TON of different rulesets including BJJ, no gi submission grappling, MMA, Sambo, and wrestling.

He is the Pan-American Sport SAMBO Champion (2016), USA Sport SAMBO Champion (2016), Dutch Combat SAMBO Champion (2016), recently competed in Japan and is a BJJ black belt as well!

In our talk he shared stories about competing all over the world, and shared some major insights about how the rules you compete under totally influence the development of a sport.  My favourite part was when we were riffing about creating the ‘perfect’ grappling rule set.

I hope you  get as much out of it as much as I did.

If you enjoyed it then please share this podcast episode with at least one friend or training partner – that’s how this podcast grows and I really appreciate it!!

Here are some of the highlights

00:23 – Reilly Bodycomb intro 07:22 – History of Sambo and the Russian martial arts 13:53 – Competing around the world 15:48 – Rules of Combat Sambo 20:34 – Dealing with and competing under differing rulesets 28:35 – Reilly’s favourite throws for different sports 32:49 – Gym culture and training environments 37:23 – Leglocks in submission grappling 48:30 – The flying scissor takedown 53:38 – Competing in Japan 56:04 – Game design and the ‘perfect’ set of rules

The best way to listen to this podcast is to go to your favourite podcasting platform, subscribe to ‘The Strenuous Life’ Podcast (*ahem* that’s my podcast) and then look for episode 124. You can find it on most podcast platforms, including…

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/strenuous-life-podcast-stephan-kesting-grapplearts/id320705565?mt=2

Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/listen?authuser&u=0#/ps/I3qvbtkdb74xrpv6ozbzie2ca4e

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-993426357

Stitcher: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/stephan-kesting/grapplearts-radio-podcast

You can also listen to interview on the embedded player below…

Finally, if you like what you hear then why not go and give The Strenuous Life Podcast a rating or review on whatever platform you listen to it on. That kind of stuff is super appreciated, and it’s really helping

Cheers!

Stephan

P.S. Find out more about Reilly Bodycomb and his upcoming ankle lock instructional at https://www.rdojo.com

Combat Sport Videos and Links Referred to in this Podcast are Below! Example of Russian style wrestling from the Russian Nationals

How to do the Flying Scissors Takedown (and hopefully not injure your partner)

Daido Juku Karate Competition

» Continue Reading.

The post Podcast Episode 125: Reilly Bodycomb on Sambo, Leglocks, MMA, Jiu-Jitsu and No Gi Grappling appeared first on Grapplearts.

Protect Yourself And Your Training Partner At All Times

The other day I almost tore a partner’s ACL off the bone, which would have required him to have surgery and many months of rehabilitation.

What happened exactly?

I was more experienced and a bit bigger than my training partner that day and we were doing some no gi sparring.

Because of the experience discrepancy I was hyper-focusing on a couple of very specific positions, namely Ashi Garami and the 411.

(This is a form of Targeted Sparring which is a great tool to use when you’re going against less experienced training partners – by limiting myself to only a couple positions and one submission it makes the match more even and better training for both of us.)

So we’re rolling, carefully and respectfully.  I’ve tapped my training partner out a few times with heel hooks, all applied in slow motion.  He’s beginning to defend the leglocks more intelligently and I’m having to work a little harder to get them.  Everything is going the way it’s supposed to.

Then it almost ended very badly…

I had the Ashi Garami firmly in place, and was just finishing the dig part of the heel hook (where you get your wrist under his heel).  99% of the time when I’m sparring that’s as far as I’ll go – no need to actually apply the heel hook.  At that point my partner typically knows he’s caught and will tap out.

But this new training partner didn’t know when to quit.  He tried to escape by spinning. And, to make matters worse, he spun the wrong way!

Spinning or rotating can be part of an effective heel hook defense, BUT NOT WHEN YOU GO IN THE WRONG DIRECTION!!

Instead of relieving the pressure, spinning into the dig amplifies the power of the submission exponentially!

If I had remained completely still his wrong-way-spin would have slammed his heel into my forearm.  This would have been a highly dynamic, full force application of the heel hook which can tear all sorts of ligaments in the knee, the foot and the ankle.

Fortunately I saw what was about to happen and completely released my grips without a second to spare.  The submission evaporated, he spun safely and ‘escaped.’

Then I sat him down and we had a good little chat about the dangers of spinning out of leglock if you don’t know which way to spin.

Now I’m » Continue Reading.

The post Protect Yourself And Your Training Partner At All Times appeared first on Grapplearts.

How to Safely Practice Dangerous Leglocks

Q: Given that leglocks are dangerous, how do you train them safely and still have confidence that they will work in a ‘live’ setting.

A: Although ANY submission is potentially dangerous, cranking someone with a heel hook or toehold can not only end the match, it can end your opponent’s athletic career.

Go here if you don’t know what a heel hook is. . If you don’t know what a toehold is, check out the second-last photo in this article about the kneebar.

These two leglocks are dangerous because they are twisting submissions and can severely damage ligaments in the knee and foot. Furthermore, for most submissions the pain starts well before there is any damage to the joint.

With twisting leglocks, however, you often don’t feel much initial pain: as someone is applying it to you might not feel anything at all, then you might feel a bit of discomfort, and then BANG, you feel a lot of pain because something has popped or torn.

So how do you train these dangerous locks so that you can trust in their effectiveness? My answer has 4 parts:

1 – Learn and fight for the leglock positions, not the submissions

One of the beautiful things about the modern leglock game is that leg locking has, to a large degree, become a positional game rather than a sprint for the finish.

That means that you can spend an entire sparring session working on getting into specific positions and maintaining them against a training partner who is pretty much doing everything he can to get out of those positions and catch you in them.

There are about 12 major positions in leg locking.  Some positions are easy to get to but not super-powerful to finish from, and others take more work to get into but are crazy powerful finishing platforms.

To lay this out for you in more detail I have an entire book just about leglock positions that you can download for free here on Grapplearts.com.

Position before submission, not just for upper body attacks anymore!

2 – Master the straight anklelock and the kneebar

When applying 95% of leglocks you end up either facing your opponents head, or facing his feet. The mechanics of controlling your opponent in these two positions are relatively similar whether you are doing a ‘safe’ straight lock or a ‘dangerous’ twisting lock.

» Continue Reading.

The post How to Safely Practice Dangerous Leglocks appeared first on Grapplearts.

Which Leglocks Are Allowed in IBJJF Competition?

I’m old enough to remember a time when almost all leglocks (except heel hooks) and leg locking positions were legal in BJJ competition.

But in the last 20 years the IBJJF – the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation – has really clamped down on what’s legal in their BJJ competitions, and since it’s the biggest organising body in the sport these rule changes have really changed the leglock game.

Essentially they have banned the most effective leglock (the heel hook) and one of the most effective leg control positions (the reap), and you can now get DQ’d from an IBJJF tournament if what you’re doing even begins to resemble one of these banned moves.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t leglock.  There still are effective leglocks available to you; you just have to understand what’s legal and what’s not.

In this new video Rob Biernacki and I show you what’s illegal in IBJJF competition, and then break down the 5 big leglocks that you can still use, which are the Ankle Lock, Kneebar, Toehold, Calf Slicer and Estima Lock.

Plus we also cover a lot of the gray areas in the rules, inadvertent transitions that could get you DQ’d, and our thoughts on when you should start training leglocks in your BJJ career.

This is an important video: check it out!

The post Which Leglocks Are Allowed in IBJJF Competition? appeared first on Grapplearts.

The Most Powerful No Gi Leglock

If you’ve been following the no gi grappling scene at all you’ve surely noticed how many matches are finished with leglocks, specifically the heel hook.

The regular heel hook is bad enough, but the ‘reverse’ or ‘inside’ heel hook is even worse.  It is the most powerful submission in the entire leglock arsenal.

Just like the regular heel hook, the reverse heel hook can be applied from a variety of different positions.  Some of these positions are easier to get but harder to maintain, whereas other positions are essentially a game over situation.

The most secure, hardest to escape leglock position is the ‘411’ alignment (called that because your own legs end up in a figure 4 position and your opponent’s legs are side by side like the number 11.

In the video below my friend and skilled no gi competitor Matt Kwan shows off his favourite entry into the reverse heel hook from the 411.

This is really good stuff!

Now if that piqued your interest about the role of leglocks and heel hooks in modern no gi competition then check out the extensive interview I did with Matt for my podcast.

We cover a lot of topics, but the theme of leglocks comes up again and again.

Hope you enjoyed this as much as I did!

Stephan

The post The Most Powerful No Gi Leglock appeared first on Grapplearts.

Is Really Position vs Submission? Sometimes You Can Have Both…

One of the fundamental rules of BJJ is that you should value ‘Position over Submission.’

This means is that you shouldn’t abandon a good position – like the mount for example –  to go for a dubious submission and lose the position.

This is even more important in MMA and self defense: imagine going for an armbar from mount, your opponent escaping it, and you now ending up on the bottom getting punched in the teeth repeatedly.

Now you definitely should go for submissions; the trick is to do them while maintaining control through the entire process.

Essentially you want to  move from a dominant position to a submission without giving your opponent any chance to escape by keeping his base, posture and structure out of alignment the entire time (click here for a different article on Grapplearts that breaks down base, posture and structure).

This is good theory, but how do you accomplish it in real life?

In the video below my friend Rob Biernacki uses the examples of an armbar from S Mount and the 411 leglock position from the knee cut to illustrate exactly how you might disrupt your opponent’s alignment during a submission attack.

By the way, about 12 hours before we shot this video Rob had an absolutely ghastly dislocation of his big toe while sparring after a seminar.  Seriously: his big toe was rotated more than 90 degrees to the side, and he ended up being in the hospital until about 2 in the morning.

It’s a sign of his toughness and dedication to jiu-jitsu that he literally limped into the dojo to film this for you guys!

Related Links The BJJ Formula on DVD and as a series of 4 smartphone and tablet apps, the highly reviewed instructional by Rob Biernacki and Stephan Kesting The Three Most Important Concepts in BJJ: Base, Posture and Structure

The post Is Really Position vs Submission? Sometimes You Can Have Both… appeared first on Grapplearts.

Can You 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 submissions like the rear naked choke, the bow and arrow choke, and the twister.

And when you’re on someone’s back they very limited options to submit you.  So you’re safe… mostly!

But even though he’s in a terrible position there’s still a sneaky way your opponent can tap you out when you’ve got him in back mount, and that’s with the crossed ankle lock.

If you’re on someone’s back and screw up by crossing your ankles incorrectly (or allow him to cross your ankles for you) then he can catch you in a painful submission by crossing his ankles over yours.  And it’s this submission that has resulted in the general rule of “Never cross your ankles in back mount.”

Fortunately there’s a very simple adjustment you can make when you cross your ankles that’ll protect you from getting caught by this leglock in the first place…

And there’s another very simple adjustment that you can use to relieve the pressure should you get caught in it.

In the 5 minute video below you’ll learn

When you can use crossed ankles in back mount How to do the crossed ankle lock The adjustment that prevents this leglock A simple escape for the crossed ankle lock if you get caught in it

P.S.  I filmed this video with my friend Rob Biernacki, who is better than anyone else I know at identifying the underlying body mechanics of BJJ techniques.  Click here to listen to the podcast interview I did with Rob.

The post Can You Cross Your Ankles in Back Mount? appeared first on Grapplearts.

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

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).

This is a fun, opinionated conversation in which I’m sure we’ll offend just about everyone!  Some of the topics we covered in the 1:19 discussion include…

How the underlying principles of BJJ that make it easy to learn techniques, adapt to new situations, and transition effortlessly between gi and no gi training Stories about cultish schools run by insane martial arts instructors A narrow escape from vindictive ninjas in the 1980s The role of competition in BJJ Maintaining standards in the martial arts Why suffering is a good thing for the development of martial arts skills

I hope you’ll like it!  You can watch, listen to, or download my conversation with Rob one of the following ways…

Click here to go to the Grapplearts Radio Podcast in iTunes and subscribe (recommended) Click here to directly download the mp3 file of this interview And/or click play on the embedded Youtube video below…

 

The post Podcast EP 34: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Principles with Rob Biernacki (plus Ninjas, Insane Martial Arts Instructors and Martial Arts Cults) appeared first on Grapplearts.