'What Outstanding Instructors Do': My first book on commonalities amongst the world's top Jiu-Jitsu instructors

Recently I published my first book, 'What Outstanding Instructors Do'. Since it was published, it has been doing incredibly well. More so, it’s been receiving lots of praise from those in the know: instructors and educators. For this I am eternally grateful. 

When I set out to write the book, I thought it would turn out to be a small anecdotal booklet of about 100-150 pages of me talking and reminiscing about seeing this or that outstanding instructor getting their point across effortlessly or how they orchestrated a huge seminar with ease and magnetism. It started out like that but it very quickly grew into something quite academic in nature. This is both good and bad. A bigger, deeper book (53,000+ words!) allowed me to flesh out my thoughts and observations into more meaningful analysis. However, I was constantly worried that I was simply indulging myself (the writer) as opposed to serving the reader (the instructors). I ran this dilemma by a few trusted voices, both from within the Jiu-jitsu community and outside it. We agreed that, me being me, it was always going to be a bit of an academic 🤓 nerdy project, but that it would be a good idea to meet the readers half way. This gave birth to the “End of Chapter: Reflective Summary & Action Pointers” segments. 

In these, as the name indicates, I summarised the previous chapter into bullet-points that the reader can put into action immediately. It’s something I know I appreciate any time I see it in any non-fiction literature. 

In addition, I am going to, on a weekly basis, pick a technique or strategy from the book and discuss on Instagram (@the_part_time_grappler). If I feel the topic needs longer form of discussion, I’ll write an accompanying blog article here on ‘The Part Time Grappler’. 

Once again and forever, thank you all for your encouragement and support  and for buying the book (paperback and Kindle available through links here and here). First technique to be discussed: How to deal with “what if” questions in a win-win manner. 

Where should I grip in BJJ? Grip Fighting 101

Gripping and grabbing is such an inescapable part of jiu-jitsu, grappling and by extension all fighting. There are many reasons why we would choose to establish a grip. This could be to sink in a collar choke, to extended a limb or even to defend against the opponent’s own aggression.


While the practical applications of gripping (cloth) or grabbing (body part) are endless, the mechanical reason should always be the same:


To define the end of the lever.

A lever is an inflexible rod that bridges between the mover (Force) and what needs to be moved (Load) around a rotation point (Fulcrum). The further away from the fulcrum we apply the force, the less force we need to move the load and vice versa.


You will often hear instructors referring to finding the “end of the lever”. This is because the further away you are from the fulcrum, less force you will need to move the load. Therefore, it stands to reason that there are better and worse places to grip and grab. Below is an introduction to the better places to grip and grab and while indeed there are others to investigate, these should form the foundation of anyone’s gripping strategy.


  1. The collar. If you are looking to control posture, the spine is your lever. The end of the lever is as high as possible on the collar, close to the label, because that puts you the furthest away from the fulcrum (the hips). Gripping any lower will not be optimal and to grab any higher you’d need to abandon the gi and control the back of the head.
  2. The seam of the sleeve just above the elbow. If you are looking to control the lateral movement, the upper arm is your lever. The end of the lever is as low as possible on the seam at the back of the arm, close to, but just above, the elbow, because that puts you the furthest away from the fulcrum (the shoulder).
  3. The cuff of the sleeve just above the wrist. If you are looking to control the movement of their hand, the lower arm is your lever. The end of the lever is as low as possible on the sleeve, at the cuff, (or even the wrist or the hand itself) because that puts you the furthest away from the fulcrum (the elbow).
  4. The bunched up material at the outside (or inside) of the bent knee. If you are looking to control the guard recovery, the thigh is your lever. The end of the lever is as low as possible on the pants, immediately outside, or inside, the knee, because that puts you the furthest away from the fulcrum (the hips).
  5. The cuff of the pants just above the foot. If you are looking to control the movement of their foot, the lower leg is your lever. The end of the lever is as low as possible on the pant leg, at the cuff, (or even grabbing over the arch of the foot) because that puts you the furthest away from the fulcrum (the knee).

As expected, there are other minor grip locations (such as various locations on the belt etc.) that serve other, perhaps more niche purposes. I will talk more about these in a future article.



Check for more resources on Amazon.com:

Interview with Rickson Gracie: jiujitsu master and founder of theJiu-Jitsu Global Federation

Interview with Jiujitsu Global Federation founder Master Rickson Gracie.

A concise version of this interview was recently published by Blitz Martial Arts, Australasia's leading martial arts magazine.

This interview was conducted on 29th July 2014. 10am Los Angeles Time

Liam Wandi: How's your morning been?
Rickson Gracie: It's great man. Just waiting for your call and excited about this new endeavour.

LW: Of course, and we are all excited. The whole jiujitsu community is excited. We met a couple of times during your seminars, once in Amsterdam and once in Glasgow and I am curious, were you thinking about forming the federation as far as back then in 2012?
RG: The idea of doing something about the sport is always on my mind and a while ago a friend of mine tried to create a new federation and gave me that idea. But at the time he wanted to have me in it but also to be the main responsible for it which I disagreed with because once I get into a federation, it will have my body and soul and creativity and ideas and I cannot just be his employee so we didn't go through with the idea. Finally, I got into a position to go ahead and create my idea and everything just fell into place.

LW: Fantastic. What is your role within the newly started JJGF?
RG: My role, with my current experience, is that I could identify the real problem with we have to solve today. Then, I give my input and my ideas on how we can approach and address that.
My partners, experts in technology and the corporate sides, and I will get together and try to build a platform where the message can be exposed and shared. We are working to achieve a very balanced federation between the technological and the business sides.

LW: Absolutely. What would you say is the mission statement of the Jiu-jitsu Global Federation (JJGF)?
RG: It's service. Our mission statement is service because I think that's what is the most important need, not only for the sport but also for the community.

BJJ / Grappling Tips: The four corner stones of Gracie Jiujitsu

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to be on the mat at the Gracie Academy out in Torrance California when Ryron was giving one of his first introductions to a 4-pronged approach to grappling and jiujitsu. He saw me intently taking notes and started laughing. Knowing my intentions, he asked me to not publish them immediately so, 2 years down the line, I feel I've honoured my promise.

In a nutshell, he explained that he approaches every exchange with these objectives:

  • Defend: anything the opponent may try to throw at you: including distance management
  • Escape: When the time is right, escape the bad position
  • Control: Using 3 methodologies (explained below) control the chaos when you are in a dominant position
  • Submit: only if it fits within the grand objective of survival.  It's not always necessary to submit.

Why do I compete in Jiu-jitsu or Judo?

Jiu-jitsu for me is the lens I use to see and interpret combat and, by extension, life. That is why I choose to see it as a complete martial art first and as a sport second. So why compete at all?

When I am a student in a martial arts class, I am not competing with my training partners. My will to win barely exists in that context. The dials are all turned down, most of the time at least. I go for things chiefly because I want to discover their flaws and how I can fix them. My aim is simple:

Perfect technique – Perfect timing and weight distribution – Perfect spirit.

When I compete, however, I live in the now and I wear my heart on my sleeve. When I take on the role of an athlete, as opposed to that of a coach, instructor or training partner, there is no diplomacy. No middle grounds.

When I win, I feel amazing! I raise my arms and shout as my happiness and endorphins rush through my veins.

When I lose, I always feel like burning my gis. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I don’t want to watch any matches. I don’t even want to be in the competition venue any more.

Win or lose, however, I always feel like parts of both me and of my competitor have died and melted into the tatami, into the arena and down to the core of the Earth.

Adult life can often be too tame and full of the necessary masks of civilisation. True genuine moments exist, of course: When I share a deep laugh over an inside joke with a loved one. When I finally get “too-cool-for-school” students to understand how to tackle a mathematical problem (or at least care enough to engage with it in the first place!). Rare moments, where the masks fall off.

Likewise, you will occasionally come across the downhill spiral when you don’t get what you were hoping for. When we suddenly have to deal with loss, rejection or “failure”. One-way ticket to “The Zone of Self-Pity”. We’ve all been there.

But we remind ourselves that we are adults. We keep up the mask. We soldier on.

The thing is…

We need to feel.

Introduction to BJJ: How To Progress Fast in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Here's a very short post I've been meaning to write for a long time.

Every jiu-jitsu practitioner should, as compulsory reading, download and study this free resource.

A Roadmap for Brazilian Jiu-jitsu

About the Author, Stephan Kesting: