Review: Grappling Drills DVD with Stephan Kesting

Matt Thornton

Amateur Fighter
Sep 2, 2004
Reaction score
The shorter version: This DVD is AWESOME! If you are a beginner to intermediate grappler (white belt to purple for all you gi grapplers), this DVD should be the next thing you buy!

The longer version: If you read about this DVD, it immediately sucks you in, claiming it will improve your grappling. I'm usually an advocate of learning moves at home by instructionals, and using my gym time to just roll all night. That system has definitely worked for me as an extreme beginner, but as months rolled by I began running into some problems.

If you wrestled before you began grappling or MMA, you have an advantage. It's why NAGA won't let you compete in the novice division, even if you only just started grappling. Some of these drills develop attributes that you may naturally have from wrestling. Such was the case for me; I was getting away with learning moves, imitating how good grapplers move, and using some basic grappling athleticism I acquired from wrestling.

This will only carry you so far, though, and that's why I believe even if you're a wrestler, this DVD is invaluable. While randori (live sparring) is what makes BJJ and grappling so effective, I've realized this year how important drilling is. You can acquire all the attributes you want from sparring, but unless you drill, you will have sloppy technique and you will take far too long to execute a move.

If you're a beginner grappler, or thinking about getting into grappling, BUY THIS DVD!!!!!! I can't state that enough. This DVD will definitely live up to its claims!

The DVD consists of 83 drills that can be done with or without a gi. 2 of them, they claim are easier with a gi, but they're really not difficult to do at all with no gi.

The techniques are split up into:

-Lateral hip movement
-Bridging and sprawling
-Guard Development
-Submission Development
-Other drills

Lateral hip movement is an awesome section. There's lots of drills, mostly solo, that will condition your mind to properly move your hips on the mat, while conditioning your body to do it.

If you're a beginner grappler, understand this: any effective martial art requires use of your hips. BJJ and grappling are no exception. Any time you stop using your hips in grappling, you're in trouble. Pinning a grapplers hips is like pinning a wrestler's shoulders.

Also, please read this, because after reading "Mastering Jujitsu" by Renzo Gracie, I've drawn this conclusion.

As humans we spend so much time on our feet. We haven't really moved around on the ground since we were babies, and even then, it took us a while to learn how to crawl. How much of our lives do we spend in the supine (flat on your back) and prone (flat on your stomach) positions? Pretty much none, unless you count sleeping. Because of that, before we become advanced grapplers, and especially when we begin grappling, our movement on the ground is extremely inefficient. That's one of the reasons we're sucking wind as beginner grapplers. We waste far too much energy moving on the mat, and the movements are slow, and telegraph our intentions.

This is why the lateral hip movement, as well as all of the other drills, will do so much to improve your movement on the mat, which I believe is one of the most important attributes in grappling. MAT MOVEMENT IS THE GRAPPLING EQUIVALENT TO FOOTWORK! You're nothing without efficient movment.

The next section is bridging and sprawling. These two are under the same section because they are the same movement done in different positions. The bridge is done in the supine (on your back) position, while the sprawl is finished in the prone (on your stomach) position. Both involve a violent arching of your hips.

The drills for this section are excellent! There are a couple of drills that I have no doubt, will develop a very powerful bridge, and one drill, called trigger sprawling, looks like a hell of a workout and will be AWESOME for developing your sprawl.

After that, Stephan moves into guard development. This is one of the sections that particularly drew me in when I was reading about the DVD. It claimed that it would "Make insitinctive movements that advanced guard players do instinctively."

The guard development section mainly consists of open guard work, which makes sense, because open guard is where guard play becomes more advanced. As you advance through grappling, the open guard is really where most of the guard battle takes place. This is one of the sections I'm extremely grateful for, because my open guard is not so great.

Let me say this: you will LOVE the guard development section. There are so many fine points to open guard grappling, and you'll be surprised how fun and functional these drills look. "Hitching a ride" may be one of the coolest drills I have ever seen, and on top of that, it's an invaluable skill to have in grappling.

Submission development is the next chapter. I was really interested in this because I'm a terrible driller when I get in the gym. All I want to do is roll, and I used to hate spending too much time on one move. I figured, once I knew how to do the move, I "had it," and was ready to do something else. Don't get me wrong, sparring and rolling have been invaluable in my training, but the lack of repetition drilling has led to some problems for me. I know HOW to do the arm bar from guard, but because I haven't drilled it enough, it takes far too long for me to recall all the points of it in sparring, so I never properly hit it. Now, in the middle of wrestling season, I realize I can do wrestling moves without even thinking about them, because we drill the movements endlessly every day.

Submissions require repetition drilling. It's tempting to run out and learn a million different set-ups, like I did, but it's next to useless if you haven't mastered the basics. Stephan provides a GREAT system for drilling your basic submissions. What's also important, which I think was a great idea by him, was that he puts lots of the drills in a "trigger" format. The trigger format allows you to crank out lots of repetitions while having fun and developing reaction time.

I won't get into how trigger drilling is performed, but I will say that it is an awesome system if you want to develop multiple submissions. I even feel that it's a better system than continually drilling the same move, because it helps you view the match as a whole rather than just the move you're focusing on.

The final chapter consists of "other" drills. I was also drawn in by this section because it claimed to improve various parts of your game like mobility, scrambling (very important to be good at), penetration steps, etc. This section is great. Lots of fun drills that will definitely serve their purpose.

What I love about this DVD is that it provides you with so many options. You can go for a slow, controlled, focused session with the drills to drill movements into your muscle memory. (As you get more advanced in grappling, there is no time to think about moves; they need to be in your muscle memory and readily accessible). You can use plenty of drills like the trigger drills to move at a faster pace and develop your reaction time and speed of movement. You can combine several different movements, and go full effort, and get an awesome grappling-specific conditioning workout by yourself or with a partner. (Perfect when you're preparing for a match, and you want to condition yourself for grappling) The benefits of using this DVD are endless.

The DVD also comes with a fold out index card - thingy that gives a list of all the drills, and provides you with some sample training routines. Yet another great feature.

Overall, this DVD has helped me realize the importance of drilling. It will help me to go back and correct any mistakes that I have been making, and will lay a more solid foundation for my grappling game. I truly believe if you're going to start grappling, or if you've started recently, you should have this DVD before any other training tool. If you're an intermediate grappler, this DVD will still help you to correct any errors that you've been making, to further engrave grappling movements into your muscle memory, and to provide you with great conditioning drills. I'm sure as an advanced grappler, you can probably get something out of this, but Stephan says that the target audience is beginner to intermediate.

This DVD has given me even more motivation to train, and I have the utmost confidence that I will be seeing results after using these drills.
How much was it? Whered u get it?? and are most drills solo, partner etc??? maybe give me a %?
Flounder said:
How much was it? Whered u get it?? and are most drills solo, partner etc??? maybe give me a %?

I got it from

In my review, I believe I said it was 45 dollars.

The lateral hip movement drills are almost entirely solo. The bridging and sprawling, some you can do alone. Here and there, there are some drills you could do alone. The rest, you'll want to do with a partner.

The good thing about that, though, is you don't even need someone to roll with. Bribe one of your friends to sit there and let you drill on him. Or threaten him with physical violence if he doesn't comply :icon_twis After all, what are friends (who can't fight back) for?

Lol, no, but in all seriousness, you should always be able to find some guy at the gym who'd be willing to drill with you before or after class. They don't even need to be as skilled as you in this case, so someone who wouldn't challenge you rolling, can now provide themself as a great workout partner, and you can both benefit from it.