Wednesday, May 9, 2007

20 Fundamental Moves of Jiu-Jitsu

This is a compilation of what was a 4 part series article published in Gracie Magazine last year (July - October 2006, GM #'s 112 - 115). Gracie Magazine asked 20 of the best BJJ Black Belts what they thought were the best and most fundamental techniques that can enhance or play a major role in your competition game. To expand upon things, I've added most of the photos from a Google Image Search, and all of the videos from searching You Tube or editing existing clips and reposting them. Take a read, see what you think, and post what your comments and/or additions are to the list.

1. Armbar from the closed guard by Ricardo "Cachorrão" Almeida:

"The armbar from the closed guard is an essential submission hold in Jiu-Jitsu. Your opponent has two arms and one neck, so mathematically the probability of an armbar working versus a choke hold is 2:1. First let’s lay the foundation for a flawless armbar from the closed guard (attacking your partner’s right arm). First, use your left hand to pin your partner’s arm to your chest; your right hand controls your partner’s elbow, pinching it to your own hip. Second, use your left foot on your partner’s hip to pivot your body 45 degrees to the right. Use your right leg to put your partner off balance. Third , the left leg catches your partner’s head. Fourth, pop the hips in.

“Now let’s analyze some shortcomings you might encounter and some tips that will help. The armbar from the guard makes you vulnerable to a pass of the guard; make sure you always adjust your hips after any missed armbar attempt. You are exposed to the slam; develop the habit of hooking the inside of your opponent’s leg with your arm so you don’t get picked up and slammed. Especially in the armbar from the guard, because your opponent is on top, gravity is working against you. Whenever someone tries to stack me, I like to turn belly down to use gravity against my opponent’s arm.”

Here's 2 vid's showing slightly different variations of this technique:

2. Mount by Saulo Ribeiro:

“When an individual attains the mount, it’s because all the opponent's defensive resources have been exhausted. When facing a game of life and death, we quickly position ourselves in a position of submission, be it on the arm or the neck, as the decision comes in a split second according to the adversary’s endeavor for survival. Thus, if I place my hand on the collar I don’t necessarily want the neck – but I do want them to react to the emerging discomfort. The most important thing, however, is not how you hold your opponent, but how you snuff his leverage (that is, the bridge) with your hip movement, making your weight double on top of the enemy and creating extreme pessure that he’ll try to escape from, thus opening space for the submission.

“I train this fundamental daily and, as a hint, I suggest you try to keep the mount without using your hands, for that way you develop both your hip game and your balance, not necessarily having to hold your opponent with your hands. Your biggest challenge is searching for efficiency and not diminishing the number of people who can escape your mount, so don’t worry so much about holding them down when training.”

3. Tight guard pass by Fábio Gurgel:

“The first point that must be stressed in order to be a good guard passer is anticipation: you must understand that if your opponent needs to defend, they are not likely to be able to sweep or submit you. Once you have understood this, you have the chance of tightening the position which puts you in a situation of superiority and enables you to rest during the fight, while your opponent finds themselves in a bad position. (Secret: make sure you only rest when it’s good for you and bad for them.) Now you must choose the technique and keep calm while executing it. You don’t need many seconds to perform a tight, slow pass, so even if the fight is nearing its end don’t rush; pass slowly and closely. Another tip is always having variations at hand so that you can switch passes in case your foe can defend and stop your evolution. There is always a good variation in the mind of a good passer.”

Here's a short clip on a close pass that looks a lot like an x-pass variation:

4. Taking the back by Marcelo "Marcelinho" Garcia:

“Taking the back is something simple and fundamental at the time of the fight. The idea is to get control of a very big part of the opponent’s body – one that’s very hard to hide, by the way. Once you get to their back, you must worry about putting the hooks in, which in competitive Jiu-Jitsu means scoring. But there are also great chances of accomplishing a submission without the hooks. The grip can be performed during several moments of the fight, be it from a mount, a half-mount, a guard, etc. The most important thing is for you to have an arm over the opponent’s shoulder and the other under their armpit – this is mandatory for controlling the back. I remember my most exciting taking of the back was against Ricco Rodriguez in ADCC 2005, but the one I like most was that against Shaolin in ADCC 2003, because at that time there were many people who did not believe in me – or my moves.”

Let's just toss up Marcelo vs. Shaolin from the 2003 ADCC's for an example:

5. Loose guard pass by Vítor "Shaolin" Ribeiro:

“I use this kind of pass against nearly everyone I fight. When you stand up, moving around, you kill any chance the opponent might have of sweeping, since while he has his legs within your hands’ reach, nothing holds you and you can try either passing to the left or the right side. The person who wants to pass has to pay attention to the control of the hooks, and not use so much their own weight to control the enemy legs, because that way you open up a lot of space for them to armdrag you.”

Here's a short clip on a Spider Guard pass:

6. Kimura by Rodrigo "Comprido" Medeiros:

“It’s the kind of move you don’t expose yourself too much with. You can use it to attack your adversary starting from many set-ups, be it in the guard, standing, getting attacked from the back, and even from the mount, attacking sideways. It’s a very efficient move, with very strong leverage. I say it’s a safe move because, even when it doesn’t quite work, it doesn’t endanger your position. The care you must take is to observe the leverage, putting the foe’s arm at a right angle. And your hand holding the wrist should be as close to the other hand as possible, thus improving the leverage.”

*Trivia: The Kimura arm lock used in BJJ is one of only two techniques named in honor of a Judo player. This bent arm lock was a favorite of (Kosen) Judo and Jujitsu master Masahiko Kimura, who fought Helio Gracie in 1951.

The Kimura is a versatile submission, and in this clip, Stephan Kesting from Grapple Arts shows how to get it from the Half Guard:

7. Triangle choke by Marcio "Pe de Pano" Cruz:

“It has always been one of my favorite moves, but it’s important to remember that it must be applied as if the fighter was springing, since if the opponent gets to re-maneuver you’ve got a great chance of losing the position. Having long legs can also make the fighter’s life easier, despite the fact that, without training or repetitions in the academy, no one gets anywhere. You must pay attention to the hips’ function in the movement – the tighter the hips, the harder to escape.”

In this clip Dean "The Boogeyman" Lister shows some very nice details about the triangle:

Here's a nice little variation of the triangle set up:

8. Sweep from the guard with the opponent on their knees by Xande Ribeiro:

“The mechanics are very simple. It consists of breaking the adversary’s posture with a kick to the armpit. In order to perform this kick, one must make a slight change in the angle of the hips, so that they create a better lever. As you achieve this break of posture, the opponent’s lower body gets lighter, enabling the reversal with the grip on the pants, on the same side as the leg of the kick.

The other detail is the positioning of the base-foot; it must be fixed on the ground and close to the opponent’s shin. By raising the foot, the lever is lost. There is a variation, putting that very same foot on the foe’s hip. The secret to this sweep is the timing, for if you just execute it, the adversary will be rigid and strong; so it’s necessary to feel they are relaxed and surprise them right then. Another advantage of this sweep is that the opponent doesn’t feel comfortable moving, which makes them, in their anxiety, leave room for other attacks.”

I edited the Ribeiro Brothers HL vid from ZenMonkey to show just the sweep that Xande is talking about in this clip:

9. Rear-naked choke by André Galvão:

“The rear-naked choke is a very good move to use because it’s very difficult to defend; the problem is that many people apply the wrong way, entering first with the hand on the neck and right away holding the biceps, throwing the hand behind the head. Thus the hand doesn’t arrive behind as it should, that is, above the opponent’s head. The ideal way to apply it is by positioning the first hand and then taking the foe’s shoulder. The second hand goes straight to the back of the head to only then grab the biceps. It’s also nice that the fighter who is going to perform the choke stays alert about the adversary’s arm, as the latter will hold their hand to try and stop the progress. So it is necessary to throw one hand over the shoulder and the other under the armpit, being the latter’s job to push the challenging hand down. As sometimes the hand that is supposed to get in from the bottom holds the one coming over from the neck, a good hint is to open the hand to the side, throwing the leg over the opponent's arm.”

Stephan Kesting from Grapple Arts has put together this very nice tutorial on getting the Rear Naked Choke. He also has some great details on the harness hold as described by Marcelo Garcia (above):

10. Pulling guard by Roberto Roleta:

“The first measure to take is to get a grip of your opponent that makes you confident enough to hold him in such a way that you can pull him into guard. The second one is to be careful, when you’re pulling into guard, not to fall victim to that takedown that is not a takedown. This has happened to me: the referee sometimes likes judo more than BJJ, wants to encourage takedowns by awarding points when you’re not even taken down, making you go for points. The important thing is to fall in a position where you feel comfortable, be it with your foot on the crotch, falling straight to the bottom or any other choice at hand. It’s useless to get nervous in the beginning, in that case you end up pulling guard willy-nilly and the outcome is worse than if you hadn’t pulled at all. Here’s the tip: wanna pull guard? Go for it, but have a plan.”

I'm not a proponent of pulling guard. But Ryan Hall from Team Lloyd Irvin is, and in this clip he explains part of his plan in doing so:

11. Armbar from the mount by Royler Gracie:

“Here you have two options: the first option appears when the adversary offers you their arm. So you put both of your hands on their chest and stick to them and use them for leverage. Then you rise up from the ground a bit and pass your leg over the foe’s head. As you get to that position you can already start to trap the arm. The other option comes when the opponent does not give you the arm. So you grab the opponent’s collar and chase the arm by raising you knee and putting it under the adversary’s arm. You keep raising your knee in order to capture their arm. After that you grab your own collar, pass your hand in front of the opponent’s face, use that same hand as a point of support and pass your right leg over to sink the armbar. That’s very simple and is the basic that everyone does. The armbar from the mount is usually taught to white-belt fighters as early as their sixth class. The armbar, as any other lock or choke, does not have a 100% rate of effectiveness, so before you go for it you must be sure the opponent's arm is exposed. If not, you must be sure you have enough control over them that you return to the mount in the event that you don’t finish the fight.”

Paulo Guillobel demonstrates what Royler is talking about in this clip:

And here is clip of a basic variation to capitalize on the opponent pressing you up:

12. Clock choke by "Ze" Mario Sperry:

“I’ve always liked the clock because it’s such a strong position that it can be applied in different ways. Also because it’s a match-defining move, once it’s been sunk, it’s very hard for the opponent to escape. I’ve always known how to pass guard and whenever I would go for it I would do it with the intention of making the opponent commit a mistake like going to all fours or letting me take their collar. Of course, when you try to sink the classic clock – the one where you put one hand under the opponent’s chin and wrap the other around his back in order to grip the other collar – you need to be alert and prevent the opponent from holding your outer arm and rolling over as he tries to gain side-control. The clock can be considered a blue-belt move – at least that’s when I began to use it a lot.”

This is an interesting variation on the Clock Choke using an outside pant grip. Note how his head is still up while applying the choke, this is a common feature of the older variations:

Here is Ze Mario's team mate, Wallid Ismail, putting the Clock Choke on Royce Gracie in a head down variation that is more modern (see the whole match here to see how this position came to be):

13. Half-guard sweep by Roberto "Gordo" Correa:

“It was during the beginning of the ‘90s that I began developing the half-guard. I had an injured knee but kept training. Due to my injured leg, I would position myself sideways. Half-guard was a defense resource that I started using because back then fighters would always try the sweep or would opt to restore the guard. The development of the half-guard made it also a position of attack . The athletes now let the opponent get to the half-guard and then sweep. Whoever is attempting the half-guard sweep must be alert to avoid an attack to the neck or even a kimura, since there are some fighters who are very good on top. One needs to be careful not to expose oneself too much and end up submitted.”

In lieu of being able to find a better clip, here's my team mate Ben getting me with a deep half guard sweep at the 2007 Arnold's:

14. Take down by Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza:

“Each fighter has a different style. We still have fighters that do not like to train standup positions, takedown positions, but that is changing and more and more people are training judo, always seeking the evolution of their game. I for one am a Judo and Jiu-Jitsu black-belt and my routine of training is divided practically in half between standup and ground techniques. The kata guruma is a very efficient takedown and hardly ever is the opponent able to counter-attack. To apply the kata guruma, you can use several types of grips, which is another advantage of the move: you can choose among gripping the sleeve, the collar or even the back. The ideal thing is to throw the opponent down and fall right beside them immediately; with the guard already trespassed.”

Here's a drop knee version of the kata guruma from a judo match:

Here's a standing version featuring Judoka Josh Resnick:

And, here's a Judo Highlight vid to inspire you to train your throws:

15. Choke from the mount by Leonardo "Leozinho" Vieira:

“If you are going for this move, it means that you are in a supreme position in the fight, a position in which you have the advantage of only attacking. The opponent, on the other hand, has no other action than to play defense. The big danger here is to lose the position and go under. How can that happen? It can happen if the opponent successfully throws you down with a bridge. I really like the choke from the mount and the secret for performing it right is to have certain steps in mind: the first is safety. You have to ask yourself to what point it is worth maintaining the choke at the risk of being thrown down. Whenever I felt insecure to try the choke, I chose to abandon the position, to stabilize the mount and to start it all over again. Another fundamental point to any fight situation is to know when to attack. Each position has attack timing and that’s what defines whether the attack is going to be successful or if the defense is going to be able to neutralize the danger. All that has to be done with a lot of calm, since it’s no use to be hasty when trying to finish the fight if you consider that the more desperate the adversary is to escape the mount, the easier he is going to make it for you to finish the match.”

A little clip from the old "In Action" tapes of Rorion Gracie using this choke 3 times in a row to beat the same Hapkido guy in some challenge matches. He's mainly using the one palm up - one palm down variation. One thing I had never noticed before now is how much he arches his back when applying the choke.

16. Choke from the guard by Pedro Valente:

“The greatest virtue of the choke from the guard is that it works against any sort of adversary, regardless of their strength or size. When you face a stronger or heavier opponent, it’s often not possible to stay on top, so the guard is a fundamental resource of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. This position enables the fighter on the bottom to defend himself, and possibly submit the opponent. As they train this choke, the fighter develops the important habit of controlling the foe’s head and breaking their posture, which is mandatory in a position of brawling. The practice of the guard choke helps the student learn to use his opponent’s clothes in their favor. In order to perform it, the fighter must place the first hand well into the collar and wait for an opportunity to place the second hand, always deeply, with agility and precision.

“There are some variations to this move, but the traditional grip is made with both thumbs facing the outside. As they achieve the grip, the fighter must twist his wrists (palms up) and pull the foe’s head toward their own chest. It is important to bring the opponent’s head very close to the chest, stopping them from defending or counter-attacking with punches. The pressure must be exerted continuously until the adversary gives up or passes out, which won’t take long if the technique is properly applied. When they use this choke the fighter must pay attention to the guard pass. In order to avoid the pass, they must use their legs, for their hands will be busy attacking.”

This is a clip of the most basic variation of this choke:

Jean Jacques Machado shows a more advanced variation:

17. Sweep from the open guard by Vinicius "Draculino" Magalhaes:

“This is a technique I like very much, and that I used a lot as a brown-belt and a beginning black-belt. The first step is to control the adversary’s heel before performing the outside hook. The hook is performed knee-high, but without getting in too close, for if that happens there is the risk of a leg lock. The fighter has to progressively apply the hook at the same time you sit on the floor, placing their hips back, since if they stay with their back entirely on the ground it gets very difficult. So one must start working with that same hand that was on the heel in order to control the collar. With the other leg – the one that was performing the outside hook – you slowly push the opponent’s knee with your foot. This push breaks the opponent’s base. If all works out, the tendency is for the victim to fall a little forward, thus being forced to find support on the ground. That’s when you exchange the collar grip for the pull of the arm that is supported on the ground while the leg that was pushing starts working as a wedge, making the foe fall on their shoulder, thus offering the sweep.“One of the aspects the athlete must pay attention to is that at the beginning of the move, when they are about to use the outside hook, it’s mandatory to be alert in order not to overstretch the leg, at the height of the opponent’s hip, for thus they run the risk of getting leg-locked, which the foe would do by taking a step backward.”

Draculino is referring to a sweep from an open guard variation more commonly known as the de la Riva (DLR) Guard (named after Ricardo de la Riva Goded). Here's a clip of de la Riva showing a sweep from a variation of the guard he made famous: (Kinda funny - he also calls the outside leg hook the "de la Riva" hook.)

18. Ezequiel by Marcio Feitosa:

“I’ve always enjoyed playing tight on top, without letting positions slip, and undermining my adversary. That’s why I’ve always preferred chokes to armbars. When you get a choke wrong, you usually remain on top; when you miss an armbar, you generally fall on the bottom. The good thing about the ezequiel is that you can prepare it without moving one inch away from the foe, and for those who like to fight tight there is nothing better. Usually I only teach this move to someone who is already a blue-belt. This for two reasons: as it is very easy for a white-belt to apply it on another, the student ends up getting addicted to this technique and stop using important techniques to pass guard. Another reason is the fact that when you tighten the ezequiel both your arms are busy, and thus you have to maintain balance with only your hips and legs. That takes some experience. It’s important to say that there’s no tough guy when it comes to the neck. Tough guys can even resist other kinds of submissions. With the choke they either tap out or pass out. Up to them.”

Here, Judoka Hidehiko Yoshida uses the Ezequiel (Sode Guruma Jime) to tap out Kiyoshi Tamura in a Pride MMA match:

(*Trivia: The Ezequiel choke (sode guruma jime) is the other technique named after a Judoka in BJJ. It is named after a Brazilian Judoka, who had much success with it when he would enter BJJ tournaments. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find out what his last name was.)

19. Knee on the belly by Gabriel "Napão" Gonzaga:

“Despite the fact that nowadays there are not very strict rules about when to teach a move to one’s students, I usually detail the knee on belly for those who are at blue-belt level. When the fighter tries to place their knee on the opponent’s belly, they must pay attention to balance. A good base is fundamental for performing the move perfectly. Without it, the athlete will be subject to reversals and some armlocks. As they use the knee on belly, whoever is on top forces the foe to dispense a huge amount of energy, as they try, at all costs, to achieve a comfortable position. As they try to escape, the victim winds up exposing themselves, thus augmenting the chances of submission.”

A little knee on belly with a baseball bat choke to top things off. It's in French, but you don't need audio:

20. Leg lock by Eduardo Telles:

“A leg-locker must always aim at the opponent’s joints. A good moment is after getting a guard pass: one crosses their knees, turns back a little and then springs. Because of the position itself, one must always be alert to defend their back, something that can be achieved by holding the opponent’s leg tightly. The leg lock is a move I have always liked using, but lately haven’t had many chances to do it: my opponents have gotten wise and come to the fights with the strategy of defending their legs. A good leg lock defense is to turn one’s knee, in a similar way to how one defends their arm from an armbar. These two moves, by the way, hold many similarities, as they can both be used on top, on the bottom, the side – pretty much at any moment of the fight. It’s good to remember that the leg lock is only allowed from the brown belt on, and I see no reason to teach it to the undergraduate, Truth is they end up learning it anyway, but I always make it clear that this particular move is forbidden, except if an undergraduate student tries to use it on a black- or brown-belt during training sessions.”

This is a nice basic clip that describes what Telles is talking about:

So, there they are - the Top 20. I'm interested to know what your opinions are and if there are techniques that you feel should be added to this list of 20.


Unknown said...

nice work, Jason. I haven't seen it ever show up on YouTube but Xande's explanation of his sweep on Arte Suave 1 is the best I've ever seen him show. Shows details I don't think I've seen him show elsewhere....

Jason said...

thanks, dan. yeah, that arte suave 1 explaination was good. i actually talked to xande about the sweep in class after i saw arte suave 1 and he helped me out a lot with it. it's one of my favorites and works great against stallers who keep their heads down, too. i actually call it the "stallers sweep" because i don't know what it's proper name is.

Unknown said...

I really need to go back to it b/c it was one of my go-to sweeps back around the time when I first learned it from Xande...think it was around '03. I probably can't set it up for s*** right now but I hit it on someone @ Abdula's not too long ago and it made me think "hey you used to use that one all the time". When you talked with Xande, did he stress the grip at the end of the pant leg, and the pull/push like in AS1?

Jason said...

exactly like in arte suave. low pant grip near ankle, pull then push on the leg. the other keys were 1) timing, 2) cocking the hips slightly but not too much. 1 - 2 inches or so, 3) planting the left foot firmly next to the shin.

Blue Blooded Journo said...

Wow. What a reference!

Keep up the great work!

Jason said...

thanks blue blooded journo. i will certainly try.

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog post, thank you for putting it together!!

Anonymous said...

Great list, but where is the elbow escape?

Jason said...

hi travis,

well, you have a good point in regards to a "basic AND fundamental" move, but that's not really the focus of the article. the article is about certain fundamentals that will enhance/improve your competition game. if a person can't elbow escape/hip escape/shrimp... they probably shouldn't be competing just yet.

Fusion Mixed Martial Arts said...

Awesome post !! I will be linking on my web blog

Anonymous said...

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Matt the Gi Addict said...

This was a really, really good read.
Shame there is no video on the "keeping mount" section. This is one of my biggest problem areas, I think I probably lose mount 50% of the time (I tend to move from mount once I have the points to stop ending in a worse position).
Can anyone give any pointers to other "mount keeping" videos - free or otherwise?


Kenneth said...

This was really interesting, in light of the time that has passed.