Stephan Kesting Interview – Beginning in BJJ

stephan-kestingI’m willing to bet that everyone reading this has, at some point or another, decided upon a dream in which they choose to pursue.  The one thing that keeps you up at night, lying sleepless in bed is the same thought that drives you to do what you love.

The itch doesn’t leave you as you begin to dedicate time and resources into that very goal.  Now, it varies in each instant and it depends upon the person, but everything stays the same.  The hours you put in, the time you sacrifice; you hope that one day it will pay off.

The dream could be anything; graduating college, landing your dream job, achieving at your desired sport, etc.  In the case of world renowned grappler, Stephan Kesting, what started out as the urge to try something new as a child, would quickly blossom into a lifelong skill.

Being Persistently Polite

At a recent career conference I attended, there was a quote shared that was similar with the title above.  For one to get their foot in the door, they must not nag, but be polite and persistent.  At the tender age of 8, Kesting seemingly had this down pat.  Wanting to get into martial arts, his mother refused to let him try out Kung Fu and Judo.  This cycle would repeat itself for close to four years.

With his heart dead set on becoming active in the sport, Kesting addressed his mother in a letter claiming that if she didn’t allow him to take Judo; he “was going on strike.”  Drastic?  I suppose so.  Effective?  You bet!

At the age of 12, Kesting began sharpening his skills in Judo up in Canada.  Eger to learn more, Stephan began training in Kung Fu, in hopes of learning some of their most secretive tactics.  Kesting recalls that around this time, the Gracie In Action tapes began to circulate, which sparked a brand new interest.

Casting a Wide Net

For such a secretive culture, Kesting was surprised that he was being influenced to branch out and try more styles outside of Kung Fu.  With a few years of training under his belt, and this emerging grappling art form making its way around the inner circles of the martial arts world, Stephan and his buddies, whom has experience in Judo, Kung Fu, Wrestling & traditional Japanese Jiu Jitsu, along with the Gracie tapes, that the game was evolving and, as Kesting puts it, “knew it was better to be on top than on bottom.”

After meeting Erik Paulson, a man whom Kesting credits as a big influence, Stephan began to instruct classes.  During this time, Stephan fondly recalls with slight humor how big of a deal blue belts were back then, and how some would travel hours just to train with them!

Prior to making a full commitment to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kesting decided to spend a little more time back in his Judoka roots.  Thankfully, it wouldn’t be long till he returned to the world of BJJ and make a name for himself as one of the elite coaches.

The major thing to take from this story is that with the correct approach and the right surroundings, anyone can pursue their dreams.  It also doesn’t hurt if you threaten to go on strike.

-Dan “Micro” Faggella

Dan’s full interview with Stephan is titled “How to Beat Bigger and Stronger Grapplers – and you can download the entire interview with Stephan Kesting (plus a bonus eBook) online now at

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