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Jiu Jitsu Terminology For Brand New Students: Part 1

Jiu Jitsu Terminology For Brand New Students: Part 1

Terms, Positions and Jargon Every New Student Needs To Know!

Anytime someone starts practicing a new skill like a martial art, they quickly realize that there is a whole new language that they must learn just to simply understand what people are talking about. Imagine going into your first day of Jiu Jitsu and the head coach teaches a sweep from half guard using an under hook. Without knowing what a sweep, half guard, or under hooks are, you probably have no idea what the coach is talking about.

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There is a lot of terminology in Jiu Jitsu that is exclusive to the sport itself and not learning them early on can limit progress. Because of that, I wanted to write a few pieces on terminology used in grappling and what the definitions of each are.


The first, and probably the most important term is submission. Although this is a fairly obvious one for most, someone who has no experience in grappling or has never seen an MMA fight may have no idea what a submission is. A submission is a technique used by one person against another to get them to tap. When someone taps, that means that they can no longer withstand the technique, be it a joint lock or choke, and that they concede defeat. As a new student, you will have ample amount of time to physically learn what submissions are.


The next term new students hear and may not understand is the “guard.” The guard is a term used broadly to define a position in which a grappler is either on their back or side with their legs and arms used in combination to defend against guard passes (we will get to passes).


The guard is a position a grappler can use to attack submissions and sweeps as well. The most simple guard is the closed guard, in which a grapplers traps their opponent between their legs. When someone uses the word sweep, it means that the guard player has reversed the position so that they are now on top.

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Passing the guard is when the person trapped in someone else’s is guard manages to move past the legs and hips to a more dominant position, namely side control, mount, or even the back. A big element of Jiu Jitsu is that there is usually a constant battle between the guard player trying to sweep while the other grappler tries to pass.


These are just some of the basic terms used in grappling. In the other pieces, I will go over other important terms and what they mean as well. If you are a new student, I highly recommend reading these pieces to give you an understanding of the basics of this wonderful art.

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