How to Manage Fear and Adrenaline in Competition

My friend Shane Fazen has fought Muay Thai in Thailand, competed in boxing, and has even challenged himself in some MMA smokers.

In this conversation he and I talk about how to manage fear and adrenaline when you’re competing or in a fight.

Specific topics include

What happens to your body when you experience the  fight or flight reflex, How to use an adrenaline dump to your advantage, What you can expect in your few competitions, Why people get tired so quickly in competition, Exactly how to use visualisation and meditation to lower your heart rate and stay calm, Steps to actually fight the way you train, And more…

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – stuff like this is incredibly important for self defense too! Your most important tool in a real life situation is your brain; you need to keep on thinking and evaluating, and not just have everything go black.

This is why doing a few competitions and getting used to dealing with fear and adrenaline in a relatively safe context is such a useful tool for getting you ready for self defense in the real world.

You can listen to my talk with Shane in the video below, or in podcast form (scroll down below the video for those links)…

Managing Fear and Adrenaline in Podcast Form

You can also listen to this as Episode 152 of my podcast, The Strenuous Life, available on iTunesStitcherSoundcloud or Google Play.

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

Thanks for reading, watching and listening!


Find out more about Shane Fazen at http://fighttips.com or on his youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/fighttips

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Podcast Episode #73 – Grappling VS Striking

If you could only do one which would be better for self defense: striking or grappling?  The answer is grappling of course, but the reasons why might surprise you…

You can listen to this as Episode 73 of The Strenuous Life podcast, available on iTunesStitcherSoundcloud or Google Play.

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


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Podcast Episode 56 – Interview with Budo Jake Discussing Training Around the World, Advice to Newbies, and More…

This is a really good episode in which I talk to my friend, BJJ black belt, and world traveller Budo Jake. We cover a ton of topics including the evolution of Japanese ju-jutsu into BJJ, getting choked unconscious, the effectiveness of wrist locks in grappling, brain damage from striking, yoga and other recover methods, training at different academies, and advice for newbies.  Enjoy!

You can listen to this as Episode 56 of The Strenuous Life podcast, available on iTunesStitcherSoundcloud or Google Play.

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

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Self Defense vs MMA with John Hackleman

The intersection of MMA and self defense has always been interesting to me, so I was thrilled to have a chat with John ‘the Pitmaster’ Hackleman recently.

John is well known for coaching Chuck Liddell to the UFC light-heavyweight title, but he has mentored many other successful MMA fighters as well.

But despite his success as an MMA coach the reason he started training martial arts was very practical: he wanted to be able to protect himself (or, as he likes to say, stop people from taking his lunch money)!

So it’s no surprise that at The Pit, his school in Arroyo Grande, California, a HUGE emphasis is placed on self defense and practical real world applications.

In this episode of The Strenuous Life Podcast John Hacklemann and I discusses the Conor McGregor bus attack, training Chuck Liddell, differences between MMA and self defense, our mutual backgrounds in the self defense system Kajukenbo, the single most important thing you can do to stay safe on the street, sparring vs drilling, and more.

This is an incredibly informative episode, especially if you’re interested in self defense and/or MMA!

To listen go look for The Strenuous Life podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Soundcloud and Google Play. and then listen to episode 142 with John Hackleman.

(A subscription, rating, and review are always super appreciated!)

Here’s some of what we covered…

00:24 – The Conor McGregor incident 05:15 – How much pre-fight hype in the UFC is just for show? 11:03 – Differences between MMA and self-defense 18:12 – The single best way to stay safe in day-to-day life 24:46 – Kajukenbo karate training 31:06 – The development of Hawaiian Kempo 32:10 – Training Chuck Liddell 34:46 – Training MMA vs. specific arts 39:48 – Sparring vs. drilling 44:59 – Can you get tough without actual sparring 53:15 – John Hackleman’s personal fitness routine at age 60 61:30 – Crossfit and Crosspit 63:26 – Where can we find you?

Alternately  you can listen to the discussion in the embedded player here:

For more John Hackleman check out this feature about his MMA training methods and/or his 11 super-short and effective MMA conditioning workouts.

Also follow John on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/user/ThePitOnlineDojo and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ThePitMaster

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The 5 Steps to Training A New Technique

Most of the videos I post online are from my main Youtube channel which focusses quite heavily on BJJ, no gi jiu-jitsu, MMA and other forms of grappling.

But what a lot of people don’t know is that I also have a second youtube channel called ‘Self Defense Tutorials‘ which – as the title might imply – focuses more on self defense and martial arts training.

Here is one of the videos from that second channel talking about the 5 levels of training you need to make a technique functional and something you can rely on in a real situation.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter if that technique is a triangle choke, a throw, a right cross or a double stick striking combo; the same 5 levels of training are required again and again.

Understanding and implementing these 5 different ways of training will definitely speed up the learning process regardless of whether your goal is to get your BJJ black belt, fight in an MMA match, or just walk the streets with increased confidence.

Check out the video below…

I wrote a more in depth article about these 5 levels on selfdefensetutorials.com called How to Make Sure Your Martial Art Will Work on the Street.

You should check out that article if you want more details, but if you just want a quick reference, here are the steps for internalising a martial arts technique and making it functional.

THE 5 LEVELS OF TRAINING A NEW MARTIAL ARTS TECHNIQUE Solo Training Partner Training with Low Resistance Partner Training with Higher Resistance Contested Situational Sparring with a Partner Partner Sparring with Many Different Techniques

It’s all explained in the video above, with lots of examples from different martial arts!

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MMA Weight Cutting with UFC Fighter Alan Belcher (And More)


I just released a new interview with UFC star Alan Belcher who has had some of the most exciting, edge-of-your-seat fights in the UFC.

In our chat Alan shares lessons learned from 26 MMA fights including…

The details of cutting major amounts of weight before an MMA fight His mindset while fighting Rousimar Palhares, one of the dirtiest and scariest fighter in MMA Lifting weights as physical therapy to hold his body together Exactly how he structured his UFC training camps and when you should be doing your heaviest training before a competition Tricks to use and mistakes to avoid when cutting weight Preventing overtraining by modulating the intensity and volume of your training sessions How dieting and cardio prevented him from actually training correctly How he prepared specifically to face a leglock expert in the UFC The crazy treatments he did to repair his detached retina And really quite a  bit more!

To listen to or watch this interview you have a couple of different options!  You can either

Click here to subscribe to the Grapplearts Podcast in iTunes (or Google Play, or Stitcher) – the Alan Belcher episode is number 63! Or you can click play on the Youtube video below

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Eye Gouging, Hair Pulling, and Theodore Roosevelt with Historian Daniele Bolelli


This is definitely one of my very favourite Grapplearts Radio Podcast episodes to date.

In it I talk with historian and martial artist Daniele Bolelli. When Daniele isn’t training MMA or giving lectures to students he’s busy creating episodes of his own podcast, History on Fire, which you should totally check out.

Our chat went all over the place, including from the rules (or lack thereof) in frontier rough and tumble wrestling, how Theodore Roosevelt lost sight in an eye sparring in the White House, the games Lakota Sioux children played to make them incredible warriors later on in life, and much more.

Oh, and after recording the podcast we went into Daniele’s incredible backyard and filmed a couple of MMA techniques which you can watch at the bottom of this page.

I hope you’ll enjoy this episode as much as I did, and still do!

To listen to this podcast you can…

BEST OPTION: Click here to subscribe to the Grapplearts Podcast in iTunes (or Google Play, or Stitcher).  Today’s interview is Episode 053. Directly download the episode as an mp3 file here Or click play on the Youtube video below

A Few More Daniele Bolelli Videos…

As I mentioned, not only is Daniele a historian, but he’s also very serious about his MMA training.  Here are a couple of videos we shot right after the podcast…

First, from my new Self Defense Tutorials Youtube channel (which you should subscribe to, by the way) here’s Daniele defending Aikido as a combat sport… sort of.  Watch the video and you’ll see what I mean…

And in this video Savannah ‘The Savage Buddha’ Em jumps in to help Daniele demonstrate the elbow spear and how it sets up a devastating KO blow to the vagus nerve in the neck.

P.S. Sign up for my free BJJ Newsletter to be notified when other great podcasts are uploaded.  Click here to find out more.

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A Big Guard Passing Tip Learned from Boxing

Today I’m going to share a tip which – if you actually use it – should make your guard passes twice as effective as they are right now.

I learned this a long time ago from my friend and training partner Ritchie Yip.

One day we were sparring, and unlike our previous sparring session he was absolutely demolishing my guard.  It was as if I had butter legs and he was wielding a red-hot samurai sword; basically he was ignoring my guard and just walking past my legs.

It was terrible.

After the sparring session I asked him what the hell he’d been doing that made his guard passing so effective.

“That’s easy,” he laughed, “I just applied kickboxing principles to my jiu-jitsu.”

“Say what?” says I.

“Yeah,” he replied.  “I realised that I never, ever throw a punch in boxing without preceeding it with some kind of feint, fake, footwork or body movement.  I always set up a punch or a combination so it’s harder for my opponent to see it coming.  And then I realised that the exact same thing applies to jiu-jitsu!”

And when I thought about that sparring session afterwards I realised Ritchie had never gone for a guard pass directly.  Every guard pass attempt had been preceeded with some sort of fake or movement.

There isn’t one specific fake you should use to do this – the whole point is to be unpredictable.

This misdirection can be as simple as a small step in the wrong direction.  A twitch of the body.  The hands pretending to set up a different guard pass.  Dropping your weight for second.  Wrapping your arm around his ankle like you’re about to try an Achilles lock.

Almost anything will work, so long as it disguises your real intent.

If you’re going pass the butterfly guard by stepping forward, then preceed it by taking a small step backwards… or fake the cartwheel guard pass and then go into your guard pass… or reach down and pretend that you want to lift his feet off the ground.

If you’ve got the crossface against the deep half guard then before sprawling back maybe reach down and touch his leg with your free hand as if you’re thinking about going for a leglock… or back away a little bit as if you’re afraid to engage his head… or twist your body a few inches one way or the other…

If you want to » Continue Reading.

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9 Rules for BJJ Self Defense

I recently worked with a female friend to teach her a little bit about jiu-jitsu for self defense. Obviously I believe that jiu-jitsu is super important for self defense in general, but when it comes to women who want to defend themselves, well, it’s completely indispensable.  We can argue all day about what percentage of […]

Adam Singer on Modern MMA Training and Competition

Stephan: I’m here today with my friend, Adam Singer, who runs The HardCore Gym in Athens, Georgia.  He is probably best known for being Forrest Griffin’s MMA coach during the formative years of Forrest’s career. He’s also a jiu-jitsu black belt and has trained tons of fighters. I’m really looking forward to picking his brain about […]

A Dirty Boxing Breakdown

This is a video from the archives that I shot with my friend and training partner at Infighting MMA in downtown Vancouver. Infighting has since moved into a much nicer, larger facility, but the information in this video is still 100% valid. It’s all about the ‘dirty boxing’ techniques that are technically illegal in boxing […]