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Ari Goldman is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who has designed a system of solo and partner drills that offer distilled versions of BJJ techniques and moves.  Ari’s approach is to give jiu jitsu students of all ranks a way to progress faster by complementing the training they receive in the academy.

These solo drills can be performed as a warm up that is more sport specific.  The drills can also be used while traveling away from the gym, or even when feeling under the weather.  By improving one’s mobility and muscle memory, one can take charge of their own learning curve, and speed up their progress on the mats.


BJJ students of all levels, from beginners to black belts, can benefit from incorporating these drills into their weekly training.  Beginners are able to reinforce their learning and put themselves in better touch with their bodies, while more experienced practitioners can tighten up their techniques and fix bad habits they may have acquired over the course of their training.

Practitioners looking for a better warm up or cool down activity can look no further than these solo drills.  Using these low impact movements that mimic the activities you will do on the mat better prepares one’s body better than other mindless calisthenic exercises.

Students who are unable to attend class for one reason or another, perhaps due to illness or travel commitments, will be able to design effective solo training sessions that will keep their BJJ progress moving in the right direction.  These sessions will go a long way to support the time spent at the academy and reinforce what students are learning.  The ability to do as many repetitions as one likes makes for a very flexible program that can fit into any schedule.

These drills from Ari Goldman also provide an opportunity for injured students to continue practicing in a safe way.  By slowly flowing through a series of movements, the student can practice a technique series without the risk of aggravating nagging aches and pains, or further injuring themselves. In addition to rehabbing any nagging injuries, adding these movements to your training schedule can also help prevent future injury.


One of the most fundamental solo movements one can add to their training is the HOLLOW BODY ROLL.  This movement should be incorporated into one’s warm up and cool downs to get the back and hips moving and loosened up.


  1. It is important to assume a “jiu jitsu posture,” in which the shoulders are hunched forward with the knees brought up to the chest and the hips behind the shoulders.
  2. The hands should be inside the knees and the elbows as close to the knees as possible to allow the practitioner to maintain a tight ball.
  3. As one rolls back, it is important to maintain the integrity of the jiu jitsu posture and keep the elbows and knees close.
  4. There is no specific criteria for the number of repetitions that should be performed.  Ari Goldman recommends doing all of these exercises for time, i.e. one minute or more if preferred.
  5. Once additional movements are learned, the HOLLOW BODY DRILL can serve as a starting or transition movement worked into a more complex flow of solo drills.



The BODY LIFT is an important movement where the hands are placed on the mat (or on a partner) bringing one’s weight forward to make the hips light and able to be lifted and moved easily.  The KNEE PILLOW aspect of this movement involves sliding a knee up toward an imaginary partner’s head and turning the opposing knee up off the mat to simulate achieving technical mount.


  1.  You must commit enough weight forward onto the hands to make the hips light, but not so much that you can be reversed and thrown out of the mount position.
  2. To do so, one must concentrate on pushing only slightly forward and more in a downward direction to get the necessary redistribution effect.
  3. Being able to maintain top position in the mount is a skill that many grapplers never develop because they are constantly being reversed.  Perform this drill for time as shown in the illustrative gif above by going around 360 degrees to continue developing the skill.
  4. Again, it is recommended that this drill be done for time and incorporated with other movements that can simulate transitions from this position to arm bars or back takes.



KNEE ON BELLY is a dominant control position in BJJ that typically scores at least 2 points in competition.  Because of the discomfort the opponent endures, they will work very hard to get out of this position, so being mobile and being able to adjust from side to side is important to keep the offense momentum you’ve developed.


  1.  When coming to the position, keep at least 50% of your body weight driving through your hands to make your hips light and easy to move.  
  2. When using the windshield wiper motion with the legs to stand back up, make sure to not come up on the instep of the foot, but instead to keep the toes flexed and come up on the ball of the foot to stand easier.
  3. This drill should be done for time back and forth to each side to build the skill from both sides of the opponent’s body.



The TOREANDO PASS or “Bullfight Pass” is an effective, yet not overly complex pass where an opponent’s legs and knees are pushed forward towards the opponent’s chest. As they push the opponent’s shins and knees, they pull their hips back.   This creates a reaction where the opponent pushes back.  Simultaneously, when the bottom player extends their legs, the guard passer passes their knees to one side and moves their hips the opposite way passing the guard and assuming a knee on belly position.

  1.  In the Toreando Pass it is extremely important to add an element of visualization to the drill to correctly build the proper muscle memory.  When doing this alone, one must imagine grabbing the opponent’s shins or gi pants and driving their knees forward as they shoot their own hips back.  Then imagining the opponent pushing back, one can more effectively mimic pulling the legs past and assuming the knee on belly position.
  2. Standing movements and guard passing movements can be linked together for time to create an extremely effective cardio session in addition to all of the other benefits.


Faced with busier and busier lives, jiu jitsu practitioners often wish they could train more.  These solo drills from Ari Goldman allow you to incorporate short, focused sessions of practice into your day and can be done anywhere.  According to Goldman, the sessions can be as short as 15-20 minutes and be extremely beneficial.  For injured practitioners, these movements can keep your BJJ developing in a safe, practical way.  

New practitioners and long time grapplers will all benefit from the increased repetition when it comes to grasping a concept or movement and retaining it.  Warm ups can be more dynamic and specific to the techniques being worked on, making them more enjoyable for everyone.  At the end of the day, these solo drills are an incredible investment into your development that will definitely shorten your learning curve if incorporated properly.


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