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.

The post Kneel Or Stand to Pass the Guard? 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.

Pressing Armbar from Guard

The pressing armbar, also known as the ‘cutting armbar’ or the ‘reverse armbar’, is one of the big attacks from guard.

It works in both gi and no gi competition.


The post Pressing Armbar from Guard 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!



The post Should You Stretch Before Jiu-Jitsu Training? appeared first on Grapplearts.

Wrist Locks – Attacking The Most Under-Attacked Joint

Jiu-jitsu and submission grappling offer techniques to attack almost every major joint in the body including the elbow, shoulder, neck, knees, feet, and ankles.

These should be your bread and butter submissions because they have a long, proven track record of effectiveness.

I think a bit of variety is a good thing, however, so let’s talk about a not-so-common attack: wrist locks!

The wrist is the most under-attacked joint in grappling. Just about every time you are attacking the arm you have access to the wrist as well. If your opponent is really good at defending the armlock, for example, you may be able to switch to a quick wristlock and get a submission that way.

The video on wrist lock safety below also has lots of examples of wrist locks that you can intentionally (and accidentally) apply on the ground:

There are lots of ways to compress, extend and twist the wrist. Just watch an aikido class or read a book and traditional Japanese Ju-jutsu. Typically these wristlocks start with both combatants in a standing or kneeling position, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t also work on the ground.

But against resistance – an opponent who is really fighting you – wrist locks are a lot easier to do on a pinned opponent than on a more mobile standing opponent.

I am not alone in my respect for the wristlock in grappling. Fernando ‘Terere’ and Fredson Paixao are just 2 of many BJJ players who have used the wristlock at the highest levels of competition. One the home front, one of my main training partners is a master of sneak wristlock attack. When we spar I constantly have to watch where I put my hands or he is going to trap a hand and lock the wrist.

Now for an important safety announcement: APPLY WRISTLOCKS SLOWLY!! Here is why:

The wrist is a small joint with many small bones and ligaments and thus susceptible to injury in the first place Wrist locks are relatively easy to counter, so  the temptation is to slam them on quickly If  you slam them on quickly you WILL injure your training partners.

In a very real sense wrist locks are the heel hooks of the upper body – very effective, but also prone to injure your partner if misused.

I’ve accidentally injured a training partner’s wrist with a simple twist of » Continue Reading.

The post Wrist Locks – Attacking The Most Under-Attacked Joint appeared first on Grapplearts.