Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a highly dynamic grappling system that was created by the Grandmaster Helio Gracie in the early twentieth century. His early form of Martial Arts incorporated Judo like swift takedown maneuvers, highly brutal and calculated submission finishes, and an extensive pressure bjj game that was designed to neutralise an opponent with positional control. The art of grappling has evolved comprehensively over the last one hundred years, as the expertise of many high level grapplers have added significant innovations to the art. Nowadays the modern grappler has an unlimited source of information they can learn, especially with the ever growing list of content available through the online platforms of bjjfanatics.com, and other platforms like YouTube.
What this article covers:
- What Is a BJJ Transition
- Why Are Transitions Important
- What Are the Most Important Transitions in BJJ
- How to Improve an Athletes Transition Game
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has split more definitively into two different variations of the art. One side is still utilising an extensive pressure game, which incorporates driving takedown maneuvers, dynamic guard passing, and heavy pressure in control positions to neutralise, and submit their opponents. The other side has become more about speed, and agility, as they are highly transitional, moving from one position to another in an attempt to set up more intricate submission attacks. Positions like the 50/50 guard, the electric chair, the worm guard, the k guard, and the truck position jiu jitsu, are all becoming highly effective systems that athletes are showcasing.
WHAT IS A BJJ TRANSITION
A transition in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a movement that takes an athlete from one position to another, which is predominantly by using momentum, or grinding pressure. Understanding transitions is extremely important in becoming more fluent in the BJJ grappling art.
It is one thing to be good at certain techniques, but to flow from one position to the next is what truly makes Brazilian Jiu Jitsu an art form. Athletes will use a multitude of transitions to wear down an opponent, and then trap them into an attacking position. All game plans need excellent transitioning for each single technique to work, and this is commonly where an athlete's game will break down. Setting up a guard pass, and then giving up too much space during the transition into side control, will often end with an opponent finding a way to re-guard. Another example of a transition is when an athlete sets up a bjj inversion, and ends up in a heel hook position, the transition is the movement that links the two aspects like a berimbolo, a crab ride, or an imanari roll, to the back take or the leg lock position.
WHY ARE TRANSITIONS IMPORTANT
There are many aspects of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game style that are extremely important fundamentally. Each different part of the game ties in with the next to make up the complete puzzle. The problem that athletes face, is being good at certain aspects of BJJ is not enough to become an expert in the field of grappling. Learning how to transition is extremely crucial to the development of a BJJ athlete, and is the foundation of a solid grappling style. The transition is like the ferry between two islands, there can be no link between techniques without the transition. Some athletes may have a really good guard break, and know how to control a position, but are extremely loose, and flaky in their transition. The necessity of a good transition is vital to the success of all movements in Jiu Jitsu. The transition can be extremely fast, as an athlete can use agility, and dexterity to achieve the goal, or it can be slow and methodical, as a more intense amount of pressure is used. Either way the transition game is the most important part of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for all athletes.
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT TRANSITIONS IN BJJ
There is an infinite amount of transitions that are equally important in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It is hard to distinguish which one is more important than the other. The reality is that different moments in a fight will warrant different transitions, and each of these transitions are important to the specific moment in the fight. Guard passing is one of the most important factors in a grappling match, and this is because of the high percentage of athletes that play guard, or are forced to scramble back into their guard. Using a guard pass set up like a bull pass, a weave pass, or a smash pass will all have the same common denominator in the transition, and that is the closing of space. All guard passes are different, and even down to the smallest of details, but essentially using grinding pressure with an athlete's hips, knees, or head is how the transition will become the most successful. These days guard passers are extremely innovative, as there is creativity in how each individual will transition from a guard pass, and into a dominant control position. Sometimes transitioning into the knee on belly position is the most effective, as it can open up a broader range of submissions, as well as give the athlete more places they can transition to. All athletes are different, and understanding the guard pass will open many doors towards a more beneficial series of high end transitions.
Another extremely important transition is a sweep. This is the act of being underneath an opponent and moving them from the top to the bottom, by using at least one of their legs, with a force of momentum. Sweeps are an extremely important part of an athletes grappling repertoire, as they may often find themselves underneath a heavier, or stronger opponent, giving the need to release the pressure. There is a multitude of different sweeps available to an athlete, and quite often they are set up in a bait situation, before using a different sweep to finish the movement. The sweep itself is the transition, and can lead to submissions as an extension of the sweep. Using a sweep transition will only work once an athlete can secure grips, and compromise the balance of their opponent, while using momentum to move their opponent into a more advantageous position. There is an endless list of sweeps which start from the most basic like the kimura sweep, the scissor sweep, and right up to the more advanced sweeps like the spider sweep, and momentum sweeps like the pendulum sweep, that help an athlete land straight into control positions like the mount.
Transitions can even occur on the feet during the takedown battle. Quite often athletes will set up Judo throws, or grapple holds as a way of confusing their opponent into shifting their weight. This will help them to initiate a transition that allows them to execute an efficient takedown. A prime example of this is when an athlete sets up a neck tie, and a wrist grip, as the athlete pulls down on their opponents head the natural reaction for the opponent is to pull backwards. This will leave their opponents balance exposed for long enough that the athlete can shoot in low, and achieve an easy ankle pick. This is also seen as athletes will use transitions like an arm drag, so they can get to the back of an opponent, which will maximise any attempt at a takedown maneuver.
Athletes will commonly work on different aspects of their Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game, but it is during the jiu jitsu rolls that an athlete will really begin to comprehend how the transition game works. It is important to master the transition in between control positions. This is a common occurrence when athletes are controlling side control, and want to move into the mount, as an opponent will often catch a half guard, which can force a fifty fifty position. Understanding the importance of the transition in between control positions is crucial to the success rate of actually controlling each position. An experienced practitioner will know many tricks, and many ways to transition into, and out of every single control position, without losing their advantage against an opponent. This is extremely important to stay in control, and stay on the right track towards setting up significant submission attacks.
HOW TO IMPROVE AN ATHLETES TRANSITION GAME
All athletes need to work extensively on their transition game, and they can do this firstly by becoming consistent at their academy. Their transition game will not improve if they are only coming to training once a week, this is because a transition needs to become muscle memory. Moving around an opponent in transition is all about feel, and this can only be trained through constant repetition, and trial and error. Rolling is one of the best ways to practise the transition game, because it is the closest an athlete will get to a real life combat scenario. This is where an opponent will challenge an athlete, and constantly put them under threat, which will enable an athlete to dig deep and use transition in order to stay ahead of the game, and their opponent. There are drills that athletes can do to help their transition game like guard passing, and sweep drills. This is where one athlete will practise continuous guard passing, while the other athlete is constantly trying to re-guard and execute a sweep. This will create a lot of scramble positioning, which can force both students to use their transition game in order to gain their advantage, and execute their game plan effectively.
Paying attention in class is a huge motivator in improving through all aspects of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, especially in the transition game. All instructors, and high level training partners at an academy have extensive knowledge of all aspects in the BJJ arsenal. It is important to watch and learn, and keep up with the repetition of all techniques that are taught. It also pays athletes to ask plenty of questions, because sometimes the transitions they need to know may not be getting covered during a class they have attended. This is an extremely important concept for athletes to remember, so when they ask questions they will receive answers, and this is how they can modify their game style to incorporate the necessary transitions they need to achieve their goals in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
OTHER TRANSITIONS THAT ATHLETES SHOULD KNOW, AND SOME THEY SHOULDN'T
The term transition is an extremely broad one in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as they exist in amongst every single movement in a grapplers repertoire. This may seem ludacris to think, but a transition can be as simple as switching from a wrist grip to a collar grip, as the movement from A to B is the transition. This means that transitions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are fundamentally the most important aspect of the game. Knowing how to execute an omoplata is useless, unless they know how to transition into the submission from the guard in the first place. Transitions are the backbone to a sequence of moves, and must be utilised with strategy, speed, and agility. There are important transitions like where to shift an athlete's hips, as they angle out of a control position. Escaping from positions, or submissions is an extremely important transition, and needs to be perfected by all grappling athletes. Transitioning into a framing position is also extremely important, as this may be the only way an athlete will be able to brace for impact, and eventually escape the control of bigger, stronger, or more skilful opponents.
Some transitions may feel horrible like when an athlete uses a knee cut transition in an attempt to pass the guard. A grinding knee can feel extremely uncomfortable over the thigh, shin, or the sternum of an opponent. This is also the same for some athletes, as they have copied wrestlers with their uncomfortable oil check jiu jitsu moves, which help them set up transitions, and inevitably control positions. Some transitions can be excruciating to an opponent, and may even feel like bullying to an extent. Athletes can commonly use head grips, as a way to break the guard before transitioning into forearms into the throat, or double handed can openers, which can cause significant injury to an opponent. Other transitions like moving into a knee on belly position, or a scarf hold pressure tap can also cause quite a lot of discomfort to an opponent, which is not always necessary, especially whilst training inside of a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu academy. Some athletes will use bjj reaping as a transition, which can also cause serious injury to the knee of their opponent. Sometimes it is best to stick to some of the more traditional elements in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, as this is how all athletes of the sport will achieve longevity.
If you enjoyed this piece, consider checking:
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- Foundations BJJ
- Jiu Jitsu Moves
- Hardest Jiu Jitsu Move
- Jiu Jitsu Positions
- BJJ Positions Hierarchy
- Does BJJ Have Striking
- Does Jiu Jitsu Use Weapons
- Are Bicep Slicers Illegal in BJJ
- Illegal BJJ Moves
- Are Neck Cranks Legal in BJJ
- Is Jiu-Jitsu Safe
- Is There Punching in Jiu Jitsu
- Can You Slam in BJJ?
- Are Heel Hooks Legal in BJJ