8 Jiu Jitsu Techniques Every MMA Practitioner Needs to Know Before Hititng the Mat

8 Jiu Jitsu Techniques Every MMA Practitioner Needs to Know Before Hititng the Mat

Jujutsu, more commonly known as jujitsu or jiu-jitsu, is a Japanese martial art that involves close combat to defeat an opponent. A short weapon may or may not be used. However, in the 1920s, Carlos Gracie opened the first Gracie Jiu Jitsu school in Brazil and gave birth to what would become the sport of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. What started as a man teaching BrazilianJiu Jitsu techniques to his brothers would become a world-renowned sport.

The primary tenant of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, or BJJ, is using leverage to one's advantage to overcome a larger, stronger opponent. Helio Gracie, brother of Carlos Gracie, was forced to sit on the sidelines as he watched his other brothers train. But he took a cerebral approach to his personal training and was eventually able to use leverage and technical knowledge to defeat stronger opponents. In the spirit of sharing knowledge, we would like to discuss the most important Jiu Jitsu techniques every MMA practitioner needs to know before hitting the mat.


The Rules of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

The rules of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu are extraordinarily complex, and it is a very difficult sport to referee. In fact, several unconventional rules have been added over the years to preserve the essence of the sport while keeping its competitors from suffering significant bodily harm. The rules even vary from tournament to tournament.

One of the most controversial rules of BJJ to judge is the "reaping of the knee" rule. However, the basic concept of the sport is that you earn points if you advance or improve your position, and you win the contest immediately if you force your opponent to quit with a choke hold or joint lock pressure. Let's discuss the main points.


Queda refers to a throw or takedown. If both practitioners are standing, the one that begins and succeeds at taking his or her opponent to the mat is awarded two points.

Raspada or Raspagem

Raspada or raspagem refers to a sweep. Regardless of the type of guard you have, if your opponent is within your guard and you invert your position, you are awarded two points. In other words, you land on top with the other practitioner on the bottom.

Passagem de Guarda

Passagem de Guarda, in English, is known as the guard pass. You can be awarded three points if, while inside your opponent's guard, you manage to escape that position while maintaining the top position. Remember, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques are about improving your position.

Pegada de Costas

This is the back mount. No matter where you are, you can earn four points if you manage to take your competitor's back and place both your feet around the inside of his thighs. These are known as hooks and allow you to control him. However, to earn the points, you will need to place the hooks. Using a body triangle will not earn you any points.


Known as the mount, you can earn four points if you get both of your legs around your opponent's torso with your knees on the ground while in the top position.

In the adult black belt division, Jiu Jitsu bouts last 10 minutes and whoever has the most points at the end of the fight wins unless the other competitor gives up.

Does Technique Really Matter?

Does technique really matter? This question has been asked for ages, and some people like to argue that strength is more important in a fight. However, martial arts came about as a form of self-defense. It allows smaller, weaker people to defend themselves against larger, stronger opponents. So the answer is a resounding, yes. Technique really does matter.

This is particularly true for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. This sport prides itself in teaching practitioners how to use leverage, grip and position to overcome a larger, stronger opponent. If you find yourself defeated by a stronger opponent, it will not be because of his size or strength. It will be because he has more experience and out-planned you.

Use Leverage to Your Advantage

If you feel convinced that you cannot overcome an opponent's raw weight or height, use his or her momentum against them. The concept of leverage is one of the core tenants of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In fact, it is essential to the art. The proper use of leverage creates equality between a smaller, weaker practitioner and a larger, stronger one. However, when there is a similar technical level between you and your opponent, the advantage you can gain from leverage is minimized.

8 Must-Know Jiu Jitsu Techniques

Guard Replacement With Hip Escape

The guard replacement with hip escape requires you to understand how to move your hips on the bottom. This is one of the first jiu jitsu techniques for escape that you will learn and teaches the two most important movements you must make with your hips to escape from the bottom. These are bridging and the hip escape.

Your first priority when an opponent passes your guard is replacing your guard. Once you become skilled at this technique, you will learn a lot about retaining your guard. There is a great deal of carry-over between these two techniques. The most important mistake you can avoid using when learning this technique is attempting to bench press your opponent off you rather than creating frames with your arms.

Scissor Sweep

The scissor sweep is one of the most all-inclusive jiu jitsu techniques you will learn. It involves all elements used in the rest of the guard sweeps:

  • Breaking the balance of your opponent
  • Creating an angle by moving your hips
  • Controlling grips so your opponent can neither post a hand nor posture
  • Using power from your legs rather than your upper body

The scissors sweep is an excellent move to use in combination with several other guard techniques, such as the triangle and cross collar choke during combination attacks. This may be the first jiu jitsu technique you can successfully execute during live sparring sessions. The most common mistake beginners make when attempting to execute this technique is failing the sharp pull to throw their opponent off balance before trying to scissor the legs.

Triangle Choke From Guard

The triangle choke is one of the most common submissions in Brazilin Jiu Jitsu. It works from the first time you spar all the way to the highest echelon of international competition, with or without a gi. This technique teaches you how to attack and choke your opponent with your legs. It should be a signature move for smaller, weaker fighters who find themselves threatened from above. If you cannot reverse and get the top position, this should be your first thought.

This versatile technique can be set up several ways from many guards. Once you learn how to execute the mechanics properly, you may find yourself in a position you have not trained for but are still able to pull off a triangle choke. The most common mistake beginners make is using this technique when their opponent has a solid posture. If you are ever on top, remember that posture is the best defense against the triangle.

Cross Collar Choke From Guard

The cross collar grip will be the foundation for all your sweeps and other attacks from the guarded position. You will base your closed guard strategy on the basic collar and sleeve grip. This is where you will start all your other guard attack combinations, including the scissors sweep and triangle choke from guard. This teaches you how to break down your opponent's posture and use your grip to control his head. The most common mistake beginners make is not getting their primary hand deep enough into the collar. You should always reach deep into your opponent's collar, like you are grabbing the tag at the back of his neck.

"Upa"/Bridge and Roll Escape vs Mount

This Brazilian Jiu Jitsu technique is crucial because powerful hip bridges are the foundation for nearly all ground escapes. You need to learn to use power from your hips and explosive bridge to escape a mount.

One of the core principles of Jiu Jitsu techniques is taking advantage of your strongest muscle groups whenever possible. This technique uses strength from your thighs, hamstrings and lower back rather than trying to use your arms to push an opponent off of you. To achieve success, you must break the habit of pushing with your arms as quickly as possible. Trying to bench press away from a mount gives your competitor a nearly automatic armlock.  

The most common mistake for you to avoid is not trapping your competitor's arm when bridging. If you make this mistake, your opponent can defensively post his arm and keep his top position.

Elbow to Knee Escape vs Mount

The elbow to knee escape combined with the bridge and roll escape teaches you to combine bridging and shrimping movements when escaping bottom positions. When you combine it with the guard replacement with hip technique vs side mount, you will also learn how to use your arms to frame, create space with a bridge and move your hips.

This move is seen commonly in the UFC but it is taught in every fundamentals class in the world. It is especially important in your first two years of training because you will find yourself in the bottom position frequently and need to know how to escape. The most common mistake beginners make is not creating adequate space with your hips to wedge your knee inside. Warmups commonly start with the shrimp movement.

Straight Armlock From Mount

The straight armlock from mount is the best BJJ submission from the dominant mount position. It is the signature move of the renowned UFC champion Ronda Rousey. Even when her opponents know it is coming, they cannot prevent it.

This technique teaches you how to isolate a limb of your opponent and use your entire body to apply force against their elbow joint, thus achieving submission. This works in both gi and non-gi matches. This may be the first submission you can accomplish in live matches.

The most common mistake beginners make is falling back without putting your leg over your competitor's head when you grab their arm. If you do not use your leg to control your opponent's head, he may sit up and achieve the top position. The top position makes it far easier to defend against the armlock.

Americana Lock (Ude Garami) From Side Control

Side control is an excellent position of control which involves using your weight to control an opponent struggling against you. The Kimura and Americana locks from side control are two of the lowest risk and most effective submissions. With or without gi, the Americana will be a reliable go-to in your fighting arsenal and is one of the most successful submissions in MMA.

This technique will teach you the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu principle of using two of your limbs against your opponent's single libm. Learn the anatomy of the shoulder joint to help you leverage your opponent into a tap out.

The most common mistake when attempting to execute this technique is letting your opponent's elbow drift away from his body. The farther away the elbow strays from his body, the less tightness is attached to the shoulder joint. This may allow him to straighten his arm and escape.


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a variation of the original Japanese martial art and focuses on using leverage and technique to overcome stronger, larger opponents. While some argue that size and brute strength are required to win a match, the truth is, you can outsmart your opponent if you understand how to use his momentum against him and can execute Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques properly.

During the first two years of your training, you will probably find yourself in the bottom position more often than not. Thus, you need to learn Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques that allow you to escape from an opponent's mount or side mount. These include the bridge and roll escape, elbow to knee escape and guard replacement with hip escape.