Basic Jiu Jitsu Terms for Beginners

karate classes in raleigh When you’re just starting out learning Brazilian jiu jitsu, or other martial art forms, you might hear your classmates, and instructors using certain terms for things you might not be familiar with. We hope that with today’s post, beginners will be a little more up-to-speed on the lingo we use around the gym.

Beginners Glossary

Below you’ll find a few common terms that you’ll probably hear when participating in a BJJ training session:

Armbar — This is a really basic submission move. You take your opponent’s arm and you twist towards their head in order to apply pressure to the shoulder joints. This submission might also be referred to as an Americana.

Breakfall — This means executing a safe fall to the mat when training, especially after practicing throws. A breakfall is also called a rollover.

Gi — Also called a kimono, this is the uniform we wear when training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Guard — The guard is a number of different defensive positions where the person on bottom is defending using their hands and legs against a person on top of them.

Pass — This offensive technique is used to get around someone’s guard. The goal is to eventually get to a dominant position by “passing guard”.

Heel-hook — This is a submission move where you grab a person’s heel for leverage while twisting the leg at the knee joint.

Mount — This offensive position is the most dominant one when grappling. This is where the person on top straddles the torso of the person on bottom. The mount offers leverage and control.

No-Gi — This term is when you train without wearing your gi, usually wearing gym shorts and a T-shirt instead.

Shrimp — Shrimping is a floor drill executed to train hip movement. It is performed while lying flat on one’s back and scooting backwards on the mat. Shrimping is an important part of many escapes and defensive techniques.

Side Control — Refers to several offensive and dominant grappling positions where the person on top pins their opponent by typically using chest-to-chest contact. This can also be referred to as a crossbody or side mount.

Sweep — A sweep is a defensive counter technique that is used typically from the guard position to change dominance. When one performs a successful sweep, their opponent typically winds up in the non-dominant position.

Take the Back — This is an offensive move when one gains a dominant position from the rear. Also called a rear mount, this position is usually used for choking an opponent out.

Upa — Sometimes called a bridge-and-roll, this technique is used as an escape method by lifting your hips off of the ground when when being mounted.

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