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12 BJJ Black Belts Give Their Best Tips for Starting BJJ {Video and Podcast}

Today you’re going to get 12 BJJ black belts give their best tips, strategies and advice for people just starting out in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. White belts looking for help getting started and organising their training will really benefit from watching this.

Although there are a few themes the fascinating thing is how diverse the advice is.  There is no one path, no one BJJ tip to rule them all, so getting different opinions from different grapplers is an amazing thing!

If this video doesn’t fire you up and get you on the mat grappling then nothing will!

Watch the video below, or scroll down to find out who they are in advance and listen to this in audio-only podcast format!

Here are the 12 BJJ black belts featured in this video:

Stephan Kesting (0:00 to 1:14) grapplearts.com Bernardo Faria (1:14 to 2:25) bernardofaria.com Brandon ‘Wolverine’ Mullins (2:25 to 5:22) justgipants.com Travis Stevens (5:22 to 6:04) fujisports.com/blog/travis-stevens/ Rob Biernacki (6:04 to 7:21) islandtopteam.com/ Pshemek Drabczynski (7:21 to 8:10) besthometrainer.com Ritchie Yip (8:10 to 9:22) infighting.ca Sean McHugh (9:22 to 10:20) alliancekelowna.com Elliott Bayev (10:20 to 12:09) openmat.ca Jason Manly (12:09 to 12:48) instagram.com/jasonmanly Michael Zenga (12:48 to 13:49) bjjfanatics.com Perry Bateson (13:49 to 14:56) nwjja.ca/ BJJ Positions & Techniques Checklist (free download here)

If you want this same information in audio form then go to your favourite podcasting platform, subscribe to ‘The Strenuous Life’ Podcast, and then look for episode 132. 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

Alternately you can also listen to the advice on the embedded player below…

See you on the mat!

The post 12 BJJ Black Belts Give Their Best Tips for Starting BJJ {Video and Podcast} 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.

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Podcast Episode 131 – Kirik Jenness of The Underground Forum, the Fighter’s Notebook and More

In this episode I have a great talk with Kirik Jenness who is mayor for life of the underground forum at http://mixedmartialarts.com, the author of The Fighter’s Notebook, the official records keeper for mixed martial arts, and has “done every job in MMA except for being a ring girl.

This man is one of the founding fathers of MMA in North America and had a TON to share!

Here’s just some of what we covered…

01:27 – Kirik’s martial arts beginnings 06:15 – The origins of the Underground Forum and MixedMartialArts.com 10:21 – The Fighter’s Notebook 19:55 – Participating in early MMA 24:49 – Organized crime and combat sports 29:11 – Was Pride the golden era of mixed martial arts? 32:37 – Officiating early MMA events 37:06 – Octagons, rings, and other crazy fighting areas 46:26 – Creating ranks for fighters in MMA and boxing 51:48 – Craziest moves in MMA

 

The best way to listen to this podcast is to go to your favourite podcasting platform, subscribe to ‘The Strenuous Life’ Podcast, and then look for episode 131. 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…

 

The post Podcast Episode 131 – Kirik Jenness of The Underground Forum, the Fighter’s Notebook and More appeared first on Grapplearts.

Podcast Episode 128: Can Kung Fu and BJJ Coexist, a Conversation with Randy Brown from Mantis Boxing.

Can Kung Fu, BJJ and MMA coexist?  Maybe they can, and maybe they can even learn from each other.

This is a conversation I had with with Kung Fu stylist (and BJJ brown belt) Randy Brown in which we touched on  the history of Chinese martial arts and what made them less effective over time, what traditional martial arts look like when you start training them with resistance, and much more.  I think you’ll like this one!

The best way to listen to this podcast is to go to your favourite podcasting platform, subscribe to ‘The Strenuous Life’ Podcast, and then look for episode 128. 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…

Find out more about Randy Brown at http://randybrownmantisboxing.com/ and follow how he’s blending Kung Fu, BJJ, kickboxing and MMA on his Youtube channel too.

The post Podcast Episode 128: Can Kung Fu and BJJ Coexist, a Conversation with Randy Brown from Mantis Boxing. appeared first on Grapplearts.

Podcast Episode 127: Why Techniques Never Work on the Day They’re Shown

OK, so you’ve just learned a cool new technique – a sweep, a pass, a submission – that you’re pretty sure is the Kryptonite you need to defeat your hardest sparring partner.  It’s the missing piece you’ve been looking for.

But then you crash and burn when you try it out in sparring.  Your opponent ignores your move, passes your guard, smashes you flat and taps you out.

What’s going on?

In this episode of The Strenuous Life Podcast I break down exactly why techniques NEVER work on the day they’re shown, and the simple steps you need to make that killer technique functional as fast as humanly possible.

The best way to listen to this podcast is to go to your favourite podcasting platform, subscribe to ‘The Strenuous Life’ Podcast, and then look for episode 127. 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…

P.S. Check out my FREE app for learning BJJ, The Roadmap for BJJ app for iOS and Android! It’s my most popular instructional app, so it must be helping someone!!

The post Podcast Episode 127: Why Techniques Never Work on the Day They’re Shown appeared first on Grapplearts.

Podcast Episode 126: Staying Calm in Killer Waves and Night Time Saves with Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer Donald Lipscomb

Really enjoyed this chat with Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer Donald Lipscomb.  We went into detail about rescuing people from capsized ships, the selection process with a 90% attrition rate, and the training required to jump from a helicopter into stormy seas with nothing more than a pair of fins to push yourself through the water.

We also talk about how jiu-jitsu and wrestling helped give him the mental and physical toughness he needs to do an incredibly gruelling job.

If you get the chance, please share this episode with one other person you think would enjoy it!

The best way to listen to this podcast is to go to your favourite podcasting platform, subscribe to ‘The Strenuous Life’ Podcast, and then look for episode 126. 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…

The post Podcast Episode 126: Staying Calm in Killer Waves and Night Time Saves with Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer Donald Lipscomb appeared first on Grapplearts.

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!

The post The 5 Steps to Training A New Technique appeared first on Grapplearts.

Staying Fit When You’ve Got No Time

Almost everyone is busy these days; jobs, girlfriends, wives, families and other adult responsibilities really get in the way of the full time training lifestyle!

But sometimes one’s life goes to ludicrous speed for a while and it becomes even harder to train, exercise and stay in shape.  At that point it’s not so much about making fitness and martial arts progress, but rather trying to not lose what you already have.

In episode 42 of my podcast I share some of my best ideas for staying fit when you’re crazy busy and have very little time.

My podcast is called ‘The Strenuous Life’ and you can get it on different podcast providers including iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, or Stitcher.  Give it a listen there, and if you enjoy it then please subscribe to the podcast itself!

Here’s that podcast audio:

You can also watch a detailed discussion of how to stay in half decent shape when you’ve got absolutely no time in the video below…

The goal is minimise the backsliding so that when you get back to your regular life that you’re not starting at too much of a deficit!

Good luck with this!

Stephan Kesting

The post Staying Fit When You’ve Got No Time appeared first on Grapplearts.

Adding New Techniques to Your BJJ Game

I once posted a cool new technique by a famous jiu-jitsu fighter on the Grapplearts Facebook Page.

Within the hour I got a text from a purple belt friend of mine who wanted me to show him how to do this technique and start using it.

I said sure, but I also advocated caution…

I told him that it was going to take a LOT more time to incorporate this particular BJJ technique in to his game. Not because it was extraordinarily difficult, but because it didn’t fit his pre-existing game!

This concept of congruence of new techniques with your existing game is an important topic, and I discussed it in more detail on episode 42 of my podcast which  you can listen to on iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, or Stitcher.  Give it a listen there, and if you enjoy it then please subscribe to the podcast itself!

You can also watch a detailed discussion of this topic in the video below…

The post Adding New Techniques to Your BJJ Game appeared first on Grapplearts.

How to do the Back Roll

The back roll (or the backwards shoulder roll) is one of the most important movements in BJJ.

Honestly, it’s right up there with shrimping and bridging!

Most fundamentally, the back roll allows you to fall backwards and roll over your shoulders rather than rocketing into the mat and taking the full impact on your back and/or head.

But you can also use it to counter guard passes.  Set up submissions.  Escape bad positions.

If you don’t have a smooth back roll you’re not going to be a complete grappler, simple as that!

However just like the forward roll (which we broke down in this article here) the back rolling movement is often sadly deficient in BJJ and submission grappling students.

There are lots of grapplers flailing like turtles flipped over onto their shells when they’re trying to do this roll.

But it’s actually quite a simple movement – you just have to be shown how to do it properly and then put in a bit of time practising it.

In the video below I break it down for you and also cover the 3 most common mistakes people make when they’re trying to do the backwards shoulder roll on the mat…

I mentioned earlier that the backwards roll is the fundamental movement underlying many advanced techniques, including submissions, escapes, sweeps and defensive manoeuvres.

The very best breakdown of the fundamental movements in BJJ and their applications in different areas of the sport that I’ve seen is Brandon Mullins’ Non-Stop Jiu-Jitsu instructional set.  You might want to check that out if you’re interested in this topic!

The post How to do the Back Roll appeared first on Grapplearts.

How to do the Forward Roll

The forward roll is one of the core movements in BJJ, Judo, and all grappling arts.

The most important use of the forward roll is to avoid injury; if your opponent sweeps you over his head you use this movement to avoid spiking your head down onto the mat and destroying your neck.

But you can also use the exact same movement in other contexts, including in scrambles and while applying submissions (like the rolling Judo choke).

In Judo the forward shoulder roll is usually taught on day one as part of the beginner curriculum.

But in BJJ it’s often neglected.  Maybe the instructor assumes, incorrectly, that just because he himself can do this movement in his sleep that everyone else should be able to do it as well.

Unfortunately that’s not the case, and I’ve seen more than one otherwise athletic person faceplant hard on the mat because they’d never been taught this fundamental movement.

In the video below I take you through the forward shoulder roll.

Check it out if you do any form of grappling but still find this movement strange, unfamiliar or uncomfortable…

The post How to do the Forward Roll appeared first on Grapplearts.

Podcast: 8th Degree BJJ Coral Belt Carlos Machado!

I loved talking to jiu-jitsu pioneer Carlos Machado about all things BJJ in episode 115 of The Strenuous Life Podcast.  

He shares stories about growing up training with Rickson and Rolls, the importance of universal principles in Jiu-jitsu, pushing the tables aside to train with his brothers Roger, Rigan, Jean Jacques and John, competing in ADCC with a broken foot and more.

I hope you get as much out of this interview as I did! His love for the art and experience in the sport comes through at every second.

Some of the highlights include

01:07 – Carlos on growing up in Jiu-Jitsu family

05:52 – BJJ comes into the mainstream

08:41 – Training with Rolls Gracie

11:07 – Style of the Machado game

13:03 – The continuing evolution of Jiu Jitsu

17:54 – Who are the most athletic Jiu Jitsu practitioners?

20:44 – Who has the deepest BJJ technical knowledge?

27:41 – What he thinks about the introduction of new techniques into Jiu-Jitsu

30:46 – Submission only competition formats ` 33:32 – Carlos’s reflections on competing in Abu Dhabi

It’s episode 115 of my podcast  and you can listen to it below, or go iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, or Stitcher and subscribe to the podcast itself (a rating and a review is always super appreciated!

Find out more about Carlos Machado at carlosmachado.net

The post Podcast: 8th Degree BJJ Coral Belt Carlos Machado! appeared first on Grapplearts.

Should You Stretch Before Jiu-Jitsu Training?

Some experts tell you that you should only stretch after a workout when your muscles are tired and your body warmed up.  Static stretching before a workout, they insist, can actually lead to more injuries not less.  And there is some evidence from the running world to prove this…

This is the exact opposite approach used in most traditional martial arts classes, where the instructor makes everyone stretch before a workout so that your muscles are loose.

Who’s right?

Well, it depends on the sport.

Are you going for a 5 km run, which probably won’t take you to the limits of your flexibility, or are you doing a sport like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu where getting completely pretzeled up against your will is just a normal part of the sport?

In combat sports it’s better to go to the limits of your range of motion under control and on your own terms in the warmup, before your opponent brings you to the edge of your flexibility suddenly in training or sparring.

But there’s a right and a wrong way to do it, and long, static stretches are probably NOT what you want to do right before class.

I go into this topic more in a video from second Youtube channel (Self Defense Tutorials) which I’ll embed below…

Or, if you prefer, you can also listen to the same information on my podcast called The Strenuous Life

It’s episode 114  and you can listen to it below, or go iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, or Stitcher and subscribe to the podcast itself (a rating and a review is always super appreciated!

Thanks

Stephan

The post Should You Stretch Before Jiu-Jitsu Training? 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.

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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.

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Kettlebell Conditioning for BJJ with Jason C. Brown

Kettlebells are a very popular tool for conditioning these days, with people doing all kinds of crazy exercises.

In episode 111 of The Strenuous Life Podcast I talk to kettlebell expert (and longtime BJJ practitioner) Jason C. Brown and get a ton of relevant and useful tips for the combat athlete!

From how to do the basic exercises, to program design, to carryover from exercises to BJJ techniques there’s quite a lot here.  Plus we also riff on old-school jiu-jitsu techniques and why they still work.

You can listen to just episode 111 of The Strenuous Life Podcast with Jason C. Brown below, or go to the link for the show on  iTunes, Google Play, Soundcloud, or Stitcher and subscribe to the podcast itself!

Give it a listen and, as always, please share it with someone else if you think it’ll be useful for them!

 

The post Kettlebell Conditioning for BJJ with Jason C. Brown appeared first on Grapplearts.