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The 7 Best Beginner Jiu Jitsu Techniques
Most Important Beginner Techniques
Side Control Shrimp Escape
This is an immensely important technique that you will use your entire jiu jitsu career. This is the basic escape we all learn first to recover guard because it is very simple, effective, and reinforces two of the most important movements in all of ground fighting; The Shrimp and the Bridge. Every single position on the bottom requires shrimping in some form, and trying to shrimp in bottom side control is the most difficult, so being able to shrimp from there is going to make it so much easier in any other position. Also as a beginner your guard is going to get passed A LOT. It sucks, but it is part of learning and we’ve all been there. Hell, I still have times where I feel my guard is non-existent, so being able to quickly and efficiently recover your guard is vitally important. You can have the nastiest guard there is, but if you struggle to recover after a pass it is going to catch up to you and your game will suffer greatly from it.
Fundamentals of Jiu Jitsu Is What "Wins", Regardless of training on the mats, fighting in the cage, or defending your life.
Bridge and Roll (Upa) Mount Escape
Another extremely important escape that also happens to be the first basic one almost everyone learns. Much like with the Shrimp Escape from Side Control, the Upa Escape requires strong hips which are very helpful in all aspects of jiu jitsu. The Upa requires you to learn to use the power of your hips properly and using an explosive bridge to escape. Using the strongest muscle groups is a very important aspect of BJJ, and this escape makes you use your legs and hips instead bench pressing your opponent off with your arms. If you try to bench press your way out and extend your arm, you are giving your opponent on top an armbar. The Upa Escape teaches you to use your hips as much as possible and shows the value in keeping you limbs tight to your body.
In the video Kurt Osiander also shows the elbow escape from mount, which is another important escape. I just really like the details he gives on the Upa.
Another technique that is usually one of the first you learn, there seems to be a pattern with this… The Scissor Sweep is so important because, like the other techniques I’ve mentioned so far, it teaches you many basic principles that are needed everywhere else in jiu jitsu. This sweep teaches you how to off balance your opponent, moving your hips out to create an angle (Shrimping), being on a hip, importance of grips, and using your hips and legs instead of your arms. The scissor sweep for me has come full circle really, I would hit it all the time as a beginner but got away from it for years as my training partners learned to defend it more, but has become another valuable attack for me again within the last couple years. Basics will always be in your arsenal and your game will eventually almost revert back to them as you understand the positions more and more.
The ability to sweep from guard is one of the corner stones of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. There are some BIG fundamental jiu jitsu concepts that make all your jiu jitsu guard sweeps much easier.
Rear Naked Choke
The Rear Naked Choke, Mata Leao, The Lion Killer. The most powerful submission in jiu jitsu, the highest percentage submission in Mixed Martial Arts, probably the most iconic choke there is.
Helio Gracie has said that “For the choke, there is no tough guys. They all go to sleep”. Chokes are the ultimate submissions, someone cannot keep fighting if you cut off the blood flow to their brain like they might be able to with a joint lock. Chokes end fights plain and simple, and the Rear Naked is the most powerful choke from the most powerful position in all grappling. This technique absolutely will always be part of your game and is absolutely a key move for all grapplers, beginner or multiple time blackbelt world champions.
Double Leg Takedown
(Jordan Burroughs Double)
This is the first technique that I personally am not a big fan of, I much prefer the Single Leg Takedown, it just works better for me and my game. But that absolutely does not mean that you should look over the double leg at all. If it wasn’t for endless practicing and failing at the double, my single would be non-existent. The double teaches so many of the basic principle that one needs to apply for any wrestling shot type take downs, it is the first takedown taught to almost every wrestler for a reason. The double leg is the most hit takedown in MMA. Think of all the greats that have amazing doubles; GSP, Randy Couture, Chael P. Sonnen, and Cain Velasquez are just a few. They use their timing and execute doubles so precisely. While a high impact Judo type throw is gorgeous, a simple double is definitely the workhorse of takedowns. it is simple and almost always there.
Arm Bar from Guard
Usually one of the first submissions you learn off your back, the armbar is a great doorway into the powerful world of fighting off your back. You will see the armbar being performed at all levels of jiu jitsu and MMA, remember Vitor Belfort and Jon Jones? Vitor was nanometers away from tapping possibly the greatest fighter of our generation with a sneaky armbar from guard. And this happened as Joe Rogan was saying we’ve never seen Vitor attack subs off his back, priceless. Vitor didn’t get the tap, but Jones’ elbow was injured and required some rehab and time off. Besides being an incredibly powerful submission on its own, the armbar teaches so many other basic concepts important to jiu jitsu, much like all the other techniques I’ve listed. You need the hip movement, posture control, and limb control that will be so important with basically every other submission you learn.
The arm bar is one of the first submissions you will learn, but there are some major fundamentals mistakes that even the most experienced Jiu Jitsu Martial Artist make.
Brazilian jiu jitsu is an amazing sport and a great piece of mixed martial arts, but it is originally a street self defense system whose roots are in the battlefields of feudal Japan. Because it has become such a high level spot, many forget about basic self defense techniques. Yes basic grappling knowledge will carry you very far in a self defense situation, but you do need some specific scenario training as well. And watching any street fight video you can see that often times one person tries to get the other in a headlock and drag them to the ground. Since this is a common attack, learning defense to this is paramount for self defense.
Those are seven of the most important techniques you will learn as a beginner. There are countless other techniques you will learn all through jiu jitsu journey, but these seven will always be with you. They may get pushed aside in favor of newer flashier techniques, but like a creepy stalker waiting in the shadows, these techniques will always be waiting to come back around into you game. It happens so often, you learn the basics then get away from them in your intermediate levels, but as you progress further the basics will become the majority of your game again. Flashy techniques are awesome to do and see, but good solid basics will always win you fights. Keep training those basics and I’ll see you on the mats. Oss