Category: BJJ Instructional Videos

Improving One Thing at a Time + Crucifix to One Handed RNC

A new years dawns! What are your BJJ resolutions?

Today’s video is from the “going away” seminar I gave at Gracie Barra Clearwater in the summer of 2013 before moving to PA. Special thanks to the Ybor City Jiu-Jitsu Club for supporting this seminar and my podcast with donations!

This clip starts with a bonus rant by my instructor, Eduardo de Lima, about the value of learning one thing at a time, one day at a time. That’s a good lesson to apply to your new year’s resolutions! You can’t reach your goals in a single day and you can’t change everything at once. Focus on what you can do each day, no matter how small or simple.

(Sorry about the rough audio, but I didn’t even know this was going to be filmed! A friend set up a camera in the corner, so we got whatever we got!)

Watch on Youtube.

Want to learn the whole crucifix game? Contact me about setting up a seminar.


The Forgotten Fundamental: Standing Up From Guard

Big updates coming soon! But first, a new video. You get 14 minutes of technical stand ups from guard!

As you’ll see explained at the start of the video, I moved up to Allentown, PA, and I’m now training at Zombie BJJ PA. That’s why updates have dropped off, but I have good news! During my radio silence, I have been working on a lot of big BJJ projects. Think of my disappearance as me having gone into stealth sub mode. Soon I will be resurfacing to launch thermonuclear jiu-jitsu missiles at your face. Here is what’s loaded into the launch bays:

  • the long-rumored crucifix instructional,
  • a relaunch of my “Ask a black belt” Q&A’s as a podcast,
  • many new long BJJ videos (10-20 min),
  • and an entire new website that answers all your stupid white belt questions!

You’ll hear more about those in the weeks and months to come. For now, let’s get to the video!

The Forgotten Fundamental: Standing Up From Guard

Here’s what I wrote up about this video for good ol’ Sherdog F12:

So lately (and for the past 10 years) I’ve been hearing how BJJ is on the verge of dying. I’m told we’re getting away from our no-holds-barred vale tudo roots. I fear it’s true. Look at the signs:

No one is training to smother boxers wearing a single glove.

BJJ schools aren’t preparing their students to get rabbit punched from guard by Ken Shamrock until PPV turns off the broadcast.

When is the last time you saw a new VHS featuring challenge matches between a fearsome green sash in kung fu and R______ Gracie?

Did you know the average jiu-jiteiro is unaware that punches even exist, and that 70% don’t even know you can close your hand into a fist?

I’m probably partial to blame. I’m a BJJ black belt who doesn’t fight in MMA or train for self defense or beat up hobos on the street. Do I really deserve this black belt if I’ve never slapped a man in the face on the beach to defend my pride? I’ve never even practiced disarming someone holding a gun 2 feet away from me because they don’t seem to understand how bullets work just as well from across the room.

Helio Gracie must be spinning in his grave. If only I had studied the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Master Text more closely! Maybe I still have time to sign up for Gracie Combatives Online.

To make amends, I’m offering up this 15 min video about how to stand up from guard. This may come as a shock to you, since I’m sure all of you have trained nothing but double guard pulls and berimbolos, but you can in fact stand back up from guard. I’ll give that a minute to sink in.

Once you’ve composed yourself, please watch this video.


Troubleshooting armdrags and a special guest spot on Artechoke in a Can

Artechoke in a Can is a weekly video series by Marshal D. Carper taken from his no-gi classes at Steel City Martial Arts. The “artechoke” bit comes from the name of his publishing start-up, Artèchoke Media. Marshal had me up in Pittsburgh, PA last weekend to give two seminars–one at his Cal U grappling club and another at Steel City Martial Arts–and to shoot footage for an upcoming instructional. You’ll be hearing more about that over the coming weeks, but for now, armdrags! Here’s the technique where I share secret Rickson Gracie knowledge:

Link to video on Youtube.

The rest of the videos are up on Artechoke in a Can.


Armdrag to crucifix

Link to video on YouTube.

After being a member of Jason Scully’s Grapplers Guide since its launch, I’m now taking on the role of regular contributor with videos like the one above. Here’s the write up I did for GG:

My instructor Eduardo de Lima showed me this idea a long time ago, and I’ve worked on it ever since. The leg position (hooking outside the knee) is something I came up with on my own, but I later refined it with help from Jeff Rockwell’s study of Baret Yoshida. That’s what the “super bonus” version is at the end, just showing how you can do the leg entanglement like Baret if you want (Jeff can speak on this better than I can [he’s also a GG contributor]).

Doing the armdrag like this on purpose doesn’t happen much, since I’d rather have a clear path to the back, but anyone who has experience with the armdrag will think of times when they get stuck in the awkward situation of trying to climb to the back while the arm is under the leg. It often happens when they are trying to drive into you and get an underhook as you armdrag, or when they just grab on to whatever they can to stop you from going behind them.

If you want more crucifix goodness, and you’re in the Pittsburgh area, come to my seminar on May 5 at Steel City Martial Arts. The seminar is being put on by Artéchoke Media, a Jiu-Jitsu publishing start-up run by Marshal D. Carper. You’ll be hearing more about my work with Artéchoke soon!


How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent by Emily Kwok and Stephan Kesting – Bonus DVD 1: Q & A Session

Over the past week, we’ve been reviewing How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent, the latest BJJ instructional release by Stephan Kesting and Emily Kwok. If you missed them, here are reviews 1-3:

Today we’ll look at the first bonus DVD, which is a Q&A with Emily. It is edited together from footage taken of a semi-private class that Emily gave to brown belt Ritchie Yip, the head instructor at InFighting in Vancouver, along with Stephan and several other students. Ritchie asks most of the questions, but there is an open Q&A at the end.

I really enjoyed watching Emily run a class, and it’s evident how talented and passionate she is as a teacher. The warm-ups looked fun, and I will definitely be borrowing her drills. She has good command over the room, and is very hands-on while taking questions and answering them. Watching it, I’d have liked to been in this class too.

Because she is answering questions, Emily covers a wide range of techniques, including ways to salvage failing butterfly guard sweeps, how to pass x-guard, what Marcelo taught her about back control, finer points on the guillotine, and even how she does the Ezekiel choke. A few techniques from earlier in the set make a reappearance, but that just proves Emily shows what she gives her real students.

As you can tell, the material covered is all over the place, but everything is well taught. Emily always ties back into her core philosophies about efficiency of movement, staying on the offensive, and not letting your opponent decide the terms of the fight, which saves the lesson from feeling scatterbrained. Even if individual techniques don’t interest you, her advice in between should.

If this lesson were 30-45 minutes longer, I could see other publishers releasing it as a standalone DVD, as is often done for seminars. As it is, this DVD makes a great bonus to an already good set, and gives me even more reason to recommend it.

My final verdict on How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent is that it is a well-crafted instructional set that showcases Emily’s skills as a teacher and Stephan’s as the creator of the best grappling videos on the market. Beginners around white or blue belt will benefit from these DVDs the most, but higher belts can still pick up techniques and learn Emily’s philosophies on studying, training and competing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

(Note: I doubt I’ll be reviewing the last bonus DVD, “An Introduction to Total Body Stability by Roy Duquette,” or at least not any time soon. Fitness programs fall outside my area of expertise, so I’m not comfortable reviewing this one without putting it into practice first. I suspect the material is fine, and from what I have watched, Roy is a good trainer, but I’d like to try the program before I review it.)


How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent by Emily Kwok and Stephan Kesting – DVD 3: Top Five Moves

Today we’re going over “DVD 3: Top Five Moves” from How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent by Emily Kwok and Stephan Kesting. In this disc, Emily shows her favorite five submissions, sweeps, and transitions or escapes, for fifteen moves total. At 1 hour, this is the shortest of the 3 core DVDs (discs 4 and 5 are “bonuses.”)

This is an exciting DVD, and it’s my favorite so far. All of the submissions are sharp and high percentage. Emily’s setup for the north-south choke is stellar (and even works in the gi), and I liked her details on familiar moves like the baseball bat and bow-and-arrow chokes. She shows creative ways to combo her sweeps and attack from unconventional angles without being needlessly complex. The escapes and transitions are similarly creative while being safe, solid moves.

If experienced grapplers are looking for a reason to be excited about buying this set, this DVD is it. The first two discs lay out a beginners curriculum that higher belts or DVD collectors will probably be familiar with already. That’s not a complaint—white and blue belts need instructionals too, and Emily is a phenomenal teacher. (Higher belts can benefit too by studying her mindset and strategies or picking up extra details.) But this DVD rounds out the set nicely by broadening the scope and giving Emily a chance to break out of the structure and go over specific situations or plain ol’ “good moves.”

With each DVD, How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent gets a better and better, and now I can wholeheartedly recommend it not only for beginners, but intermediate and advanced grapplers too.

Next time, it’s “Bonus DVD 1: Q & A Session.”


How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent by Emily Kwok and Stephan Kesting – DVD 2: Compensating for Strength

It’s time to continue my review of How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent, the latest BJJ instructional DVD set by Emily Kwok and Stephan Kesting. We now move on to DVD 2, “Compensating for Strength.”

That vague title doesn’t give any hints to its contents, so I’ll spoil it for you: Emily teaches 1) open and half guard, 2) guard passing, and 3) escapes from side control and mount. At nearly 2½ hours long, this is the longest of the 5 discs, and it is crammed full of techniques.

To start the DVD, Emily shows her guard gameplan that includes butterfly guard, one legged x-guard (AKA leglock guard), x-guard and half guard. She presents a good primer on each of these guards, explaining its core strategy and teaching 3-4 solid sweeps. Like always, Emily’s technique is crisp, and her explanations are clear and detailed.

Her one legged x-guard material is especially interesting because you can’t find this guard covered in much depth outside of some Marcelo Garcia’s videos. I picked up new details on it that I’m excited to put into practice.

Speaking of Marcelo, you can see the mark he’s left on Emily’s style, and she points this out herself. The lists of guards above could easily have been taken from Marcelo, and if you are familiar with Marcelo’s game and philosophy, you can see parallels in what Emily teaches throughout this set. More than the individual techniques, I enjoyed hearing about Emily’s attitude towards jiu-jitsu practice and competition.

This next point will help you decide if this DVD is for you or not. You can find more in-depth instruction on most of these guards in other DVDs, which may be good or bad for you.

If you don’t already own instructionals like Kesting’s butterfly and x-guard DVD or half guard DVD, then you’ll be happy with Emily’s condensed explanation of these guards and how she lays out a cohesive gameplan where every move is high percentage and dovetails into the next.

But if you already own DVDs on these guards (by Kesting or another BJJ black belt), then you’ll be familiar with most of this material, which may be disappointing if you are looking for new techniques.

That said, there is a danger to always seeking “new” techniques and not being happy with the old faithful ones that work. And it’s also not as if Emily is teaching boring closed guard and cross collar chokes circa 1995—she shows modern, advanced open guards. It’s just that other DVDs have taught them too.

The sections on guard passing and escapes follow the same story: the quality of instruction is very good, all of the techniques are high percentage, and if you don’t have the time or money to watch a bunch of instructionals, this is a smart buy because it packages a lot of good material in one place. If you are experienced or watch a lot of instructionals, you’ll likely have seen most of the moves already and may wish for more.

To be fair to Stephan and Emily and their intention for making these DVDs, their target market is clearly beginners who are still struggling with the fundamental problem presented in the set’s title: “How do I beat someone bigger and stronger than me?” As a brown belt who has seen dozens and dozens of BJJ DVDs, I’m not who this set was created to help.

That’s not to say it’s worthless if you have seen most of the moves before. Higher belts can benefit from seeing techniques explained by a skilled teacher with lots of tips and tricks, and it’s valuable to hear an experienced black belt explain their mindset and why they choose certain moves and strategies. There are certainly techniques I want to drill again thanks to Emily, even if I have seen them elsewhere in the past.

My overall opinion of this DVD is the same as the first disc. It’s a very good resource for beginners, especially white and blue belts, and I’d recommend it to them with no reservations. Experienced guys may want to take a look over the chapters first to see if enough of it catches their interest. There is no faulting the quality of the instruction, so it simply comes down to how much you need what Emily and Stephan offer.

Next time, we’ll review “DVD 3: Top Five Moves.”


How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent by Emily Kwok and Stephan Kesting – DVD 1: Drills, Gi and No-Gi Gripfighting

My copies of Stephan Kesting and Emily Kwok’s latest instructional DVDs, How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent, arrived earlier this week. I will be writing down my impressions and doing a preliminary review as I watch the 5 DVDs, starting here with Disc 1, “Drills, Gi and No-gi Gripfighting.”

Emily teaches the techniques while Stephan plays the role of the “bigger, stronger opponent” and demonstration partner. Emily’s instruction is enjoyable to follow because she is descriptive in her explanations and doesn’t commit the mistake of just doing the move and saying “you grab here, you go there, you go like this…”

Stephan isn’t mute either, and he chimes in to say what the moves feels like if there is a detail or pressure that isn’t obvious, or to ask questions and get Emily to explain points further.

The topics of this first DVD—drills and gripfighting—are unrelated, and you can treat their sections like two separate instructionals.

The drills start simply with basic breakfalls and shrimping, and if you have seen Kesting’s Grappling Drills DVD, you will be familiar with many of the other drills. The material is well taught, but I found it dull until Emily started showing the advanced drills (the granby roll in particular is very good) and the partner drills, which I did enjoy.

I ran a beginners class right after watching this section of the DVD, and I had people doing Emily’s partner drills like the partner drags and crabwalks, and they were a lot of fun.

Like with the drills, the gripfighting section starts with basics, but eventually builds up to advanced strategies. The grips and grip breaks are high percentage, but they’re nothing new, especially if you have any judo experience.

The part I found most interesting was where Emily showed how all the grips and grip stripping acts as your first line of offense and defense (a point that Marcelo made to her, and one I have heard from many other black belts), and demonstrated it by fending off Stephan, and answering his questions about specific grips.

This first DVD is fairly basic but very well taught. Keep in mind that I’ve watched tons of instructionals and have seen most basic moves many, many times, so I am hard to impress at this point. There is also a danger to being “unimpressed” with basic moves, because I believe Emily is honestly teaching what she would teach to a flesh-and-blood class, and her instruction is very good.

I had a similar attitude toward at first too, thinking it was “too basic,” but then I found myself returning to it and finding value in its very good explanations of the fundamentals, and now I always refer beginners to it.

This is also the first out of 5 DVDs, so it is understandable that it would be the simplest. Looking at the chapters of the later DVDs (and watching the preview clips), I see the topics get more advanced, so I am sure my overall opinion will change once I have seen all of the material.

Who would I recommend this DVD to so far? This disc would be most interesting to white and blue belts, since most of the material is fairly basic. Higher belts can find value in it too, especially those who runs classes like a college grappling club or garage training groups.

Next time I will review “DVD 2: Compensating for Strength.”

(If you want to get How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent, you should act fast because there are only 40 copies left at the $97 price tag, then it jumps up $50 with the second batch. Stephan is also offering free shipping and an unconditional 365 day guarantee.)


Excited about Kesting’s new DVD set with Emily Kwok

As a previous buyer of Stephan Kesting’s instructional DVDs, I have been getting emails from him about the release of his newest set with Emily Kwok, How to Defeat the Bigger, Stronger Opponent.

Previews, like this butterfly guard sweep, look really good, and Kwok has impressed me with the clarity of her instruction. Kesting’s DVDs are my all-time favorites because they are well organized and comprehensive without resorting to filler techniques, and they have always made real contributions to my game.

This one is a limited release, so I wanted to let you know about it while there were still copies available (it’s down to less than 300 remaining as I type this.) You can order it here. I will write a full review once I’ve watched my copy.