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FOUNDATIONS BJJ
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FOUNDATIONS BJJ

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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the fastest growing combat sports on the planet. Since the rise of other combat sports like Mixed Martial Arts, there has been a notable rise in the popularity of jiu jitsu moves used inside the cage. BJJ has a stringent system of basic maneuvers, ranging all the way through to extremely complex movements. It is becoming increasingly more important for BJJ practitioners to build a solid foundation inside their repertoire. Many of the more advanced movements are like threads that peel off of solid foundational movements. 

Developing a good game in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can start off with something as simple as good posture. Using good posture is a great foundation to build a solid, and reputable series of movements from. Sticking to the traditional and basic elements of all bjj positions is crucial in executing a reliable, and structured attacking system. This may include skipping the temptation to roll for berimbolos, or other fancier techniques, and stick straight to easy and controlling positional movements. BJJ does seem to follow trends, as the popularity of certain styles and movements have become exponential, but one thing is for sure, what wins world titles at the highest levels, is reliable and traditional solid foundational BJJ.

What This Article Covers:

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HOW TO BUILD A SOLID FOUNDATION 

Developing a strong foundation in BJJ starts with consistency on the mats, and putting in hard work at every training session. Students need to learn the bjj hierarchy of positions, and should avoid learning advanced movements early on in their journey, as they need to stick to constant repetition of all the basic elements. It is extremely important to understand all of the control positions, and how to maintain them, as well as escape from them. Sometimes repetitive training in some of the more uncomplicated movements can be tedious, and easy to lose focus, but students need to be extremely vigilant and master the building blocks of BJJ. If students ignore building a solid foundation, then they will find themself in serious trouble when they are confronted by an unsolvable problem. Sometimes when an extremely hard hurdle is placed in front of a student, it's the simple things like a frame, a post, or an underhook that can get the student out of trouble.

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bjj foundations

One of the most important components to building a strong foundation in BJJ, is mastering the warm ups. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu warm ups consist of a comprehensive series of dynamic movements that are all directly related to techniques in the art. Many of these techniques translate into animal style movements like hip shrimps, bear crawls, crocodile walks, forward rolls, backward rolls, and many other movements. A common mistake for students is thinking that the warm ups are too hard, so they do the minimal amount. If a student takes the warm up seriously, and trains them comprehensively, they will be well on their way to understanding all of the technical components involved in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

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TAKEDOWNS AND TAKEDOWN DEFENSE 

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu always starts on the feet, as two combatants face off and try to get the fight to the mat. One of the most important aspects is how to engage an opponent. Students must always stand in base so they are harder to be pulled or pushed around by their opponent. Students must be ready to change levels at any time so they can execute takedowns, or stifle their opponents' attempts at takedowns. Understanding the mechanics of how to control a standing opponent is all about securing dominant grips like double under hooks, neck ties, and wrist grips, in the GI this might be a collar and sleeve grip. Students must now pull their opponents out of their base, in order to achieve takedowns like foot sweeps, ankle picks, single leg, or double leg takedowns.

Takedown defense is just as important as executing takedowns themself. Students will learn the foundations of how to break their opponents' grips in order to gain the dominant position. Understanding the level change is extremely important, so they can know how to stifle an opponent that shoots in on them. An important fundamental is learning how to sprawl, which is a way of shooting your legs backwards, and driving your pressure over the top of an opponent who is reaching for a takedown. Another good way to stifle a takedown is when an opponent reaches in for a double leg, simply secure one underhook and one over hook, and then turn them towards the overhook, putting them onto their back. A practitioner that has great fundamental takedown defense will be in good stead to gaining a dominant position within the fight.

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DOMINANT CONTROL POSITIONS 

Once the student can get the fight to the ground, they must learn the bjj fundamentals to all control positions. The importance of securing dominant controls is massive, as students will need to learn how to correctly maintain pressure, and take away all the space of their opponents in all dominant positions. One of the most basic positions a new practitioner will learn is side control, which involves the practitioner applying pressure from chest to chest in a sideways position. To be dominant in this position the student must learn the crossface, which is when one arm is under the head of their opponent, with their shoulder applying pressure to their face. Their other arm can either block the hips, or connect underneath the far arm, creating a triangle position around the arm and neck, in this instance when a student moves their hand from blocking the hip, they must replace it with their knee or their own hip to continue blocking their opponents hips. One of the fundamental principles in holding a side control is not allowing their opponent to create enough space to secure any sort of guard.

Learning how to utilise the mount is another important aspect of fundamental Jiu Jitsu. The mount can be a great position to suffocate an opponent, take away their energy, and launch a springboard of various attacks. A fundamental mistake that most students make in the beginning is how they enter the mount, as they will usually be slow or lazy, as they step over with their leg, causing their opponent to catch the half guard. Practitioners must learn how to be sneaky and transition fast, as they attempt to secure the mount. There are different types of mounts, but for a beginner they should focus on switching between the basic mount, and the high mount. A good fundamental practise is to keep good pressure with your hips driving into the mat, while keeping a good base posting with your hands. To set up a good submission attack from the mount, a practitioner should start attacking the elbows, and transitioning into high mount.

The most dominant and reputable position in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is back control, as this can be a demoralising position for an opponent. Students must learn the fundamentals of securing a good back control, this involves using both of their legs as hooks in the hips of their opponent, and utilising a seat belt control, which is one hand under the arm and the other hand over the neck, with both hands connected in either an s-grip or a gable grip. Utilising this kind of control will give practitioners access to an assortment of various chokes, including the rear naked choke, the bow and arrow choke, and various other lapel chokes. A common mistake beginners will make, is when they secure their hooks they cross their feet, this is a huge problem as it can cause significant injury. It is good practise to try and get an opponent's hips flat on the mat while you have back control, this will ensure the practitioner can execute an easy choke.

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THE ART OF ESCAPE

Learning how to escape from submissions, and dominant positions is a fundamental must for all beginners. Building a comprehensive game style of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, can grow substantially off the back of a good escape plan. The foundations involved in understanding the mechanics of escaping are extremely simple in their essence. All escapes involve keeping your chin tucked, and keeping your elbows firmly planted into your sides, this is so an opponent cannot execute chokes, or isolate limbs in an attempt to submit. Escapes involve two other key components, the first is knowing how to bridge, meaning to create space by thrusting your hips up in the air. The second component is called a hip shrimp, which is a fundamental dynamo for escaping from most positions. Once a student can combine all of these elements, they will be extremely hard to hold down, and even harder to submit. Students must also add the transitional element to their escapes, so that they are not escaping from one bad position straight to another, instead as they escape they are looking to wrestle back control, and maneuver themself into a dominant position.

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PULLING GUARD AND GUARD PASSING PRINCIPLES

One of the most common fundamental practises is pulling guard, as the position is a great defensive tool, and when used correctly can be an extremely effective platform to launch attacks from. Although it is illegal for beginner students to jump guard, they must still learn the fundamentals of pulling guard. Usually a practitioner will secure a collar and a sleeve grip, before inserting a foot into the hip and pulling them into either a closed guard, or straight into an open guard. Beginner's would be smart to explore the closed guard, before moving onto other guards, so they can minimise an opponent passing their guard.

There are two major elements to passing a guard, the first is understanding how to break the guard, and the second is passing it. The fundamental principles involved in breaking the guard directly relate to a strong posture, as a student needs to be immovable before they can attempt passing the guard. There are various ways to break open a guard, as students will learn the standing guard break, and the cat stretch, which are both good ways to open an opponent's guard. Once a student is ready to pass the guard they can use a variety of techniques including the knee slice, the back step, and principles like gripping and disengaging to move around the legs of their opponent.

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EXECUTING A SWEEP

The concept of sweeping an opponent is extremely important, as it's one of the only ways to get from the bottom to the top in a Jiu Jitsu battle. It's a good fundamental practise to execute sweeps while an opponent is attempting to pass the guard, this is mainly due to their momentum moving in one direction which gives the student an avenue to sweep. There are many different sweeps that a practitioner will learn over the course of their journey, with only a few taught at the beginner level. The hip bump sweep is one of the most common, where a practitioner reaches over an opponent's arm using their hips to roll them over. Another basic sweep is called the scissor sweep, where a practitioner moves from guard into a knee shield position, while grabbing a wrist and a necktie they will then pull their opponents weight over their body, and use both of their legs in a scissoring motion, to sweep their opponent. Another important sweep is technically not a sweep, as it's called the technical stand up, which is a way to use frames to create space, and basically just stand up, as the student scrambles to gain a dominant top position. Important aspects of sweeping an opponent are; securing an arm so they are unable to post, pulling them off balance which makes them easier to move, using strong frames and posture, and instead of kicking your leg sideways, change the angle of your hips so you can use your leg in more of a forward kicking motion.

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THE ART OF SUBMISSION 

Learning how to submit an opponent is probably one of the most important tools, as the game requires a submission to end the fight in most cases. In competitions the match can end by points, which usually allows opponents to use stalling tactics, this is why understanding how to submit an opponent is crucial in winning a fight, or pivotal to staying safe in a real life street altercation. There are many different avenues to submitting an opponent, as students will learn the foundations of how to set up extremely reliable attacks. Before they can learn some of the hardest bjj submission maneuvers, students need to master some of the most basic and dependable submission attacks. The rear naked choke is executed once a student has secured back control. The arm bar, which is a leverage based joint lock used to hyperextended the elbow of an opponent. The triangle, this submission is extremely reliable, and involves a student wrapping their legs around the arm and neck of an opponent. The guillotine is another basic submission that involves a student choking their opponent with a front headlock position. There are also moves like the kimura and the americana, which are bent arm locks used to put significant pressure on the shoulder of an opponent. At the fundamental level, learning one submission at a time is acceptable, but as the student grows in stature, and knowledge, they will begin to develop a system that incorporates transitioning between different submissions, or baiting an opponent into the submission.

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STAYING CALM 

When students first begin their journey through an art like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, they will often be too aggressive, too erratic, and use way too much strength. This can be detrimental to the growth of their development, as they will become disheartened, as they are handled with ease by other members in their academy. It is a good fundamental practise to stay calm, especially when they are under high pressure situations. This may be easier said than done, but if a student uses other fundamental principles like framing, keeping their chin tucked, and using hip shrimping, then staying calm will become second nature. A part of staying calm is also being relaxed enough to breathe correctly, as the last thing a student wants to do is breathe erratically, as they will gas out fast. Jiu Jitsu stands for the gentle art, which means staying calm is one of the prerequisites of becoming good at this Martial Art.

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jiu jitsu bjj foundations

There are many foundations to follow in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and it is important for new students not to cut corners, and train extensively in all of these concepts. To build a long term, and strong game style, students need to master the fundamentals. It is also extremely important to enjoy their time on the mats, as the only way to become good at anything, especially Martial Arts, is to enjoy the process. 

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