Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Progressive Jiu Jitsu: It's All About The Basics!

By Vinicius "Draculino" Magalhaes

As your jiu jitsu journey begins, you'll quickly realize the amount of techniques and situations you have to deal with is overwhelming. Getting stuck in bad positions is the norm, and you will be submitted often.

Don't get discouraged, because you can survive!

An awesome thing about jiu jitsu is that it is fantastic at leveling the playing field. The fast or strong can be at a disadvantage against a skilled jiu jitsu student, especially if they are untrained in ground fighting. The problem is lasting long enough in class to become skilled.

In a word, basics. If you become a master at just the jiu jitsu basics, you can generally prevent yourself from getting in bad positions and are able to handle yourself if you happen to end up in one. Practice these at home by yourself, and keep them in mind during your classroom training to apply them there as well. After a few weeks you'll have a basic skill level that'll really allow you to focus on learning and applying your techniques instead of a panicked defense.

What are these basics?

Hip Escapes

Hip escapes are the grand daddy of jiu jitsu basic techniques. While training you should always have "loose hips". Transitioning from side to side and using your hips for positional leverage is critical. This can't be reinforced enough. Hip escapes (aka shrimping) are important in creating space allowing room for both defenses and attacks.


Another basic you need to get down is breathing. If you tire out in training or a real life fight, you're dead. You CAN relax and you need to slow down and breathe while you work your game. If rolling/sparring becomes a sprint for you, you'll be done in 30 seconds. In a typical 5-7 minute training round, that would be miserable! So slow down, take your time, breathe deeply, and relax.

Open Mind

Many people come to train thinking that their strength is going to get them through whatever challenge they face. And just as quickly they are proven wrong by some 120 pound-when-soaking-wet kid with a bit of experience. To learn the fastest, open your mind to a new way of doing things. Learn and use the techniques properly and without strength. Accept that you are going to have a learning curve and don't try to power your way through things.


The majority of BJJ students are men and of course have good sized egos. Leave it at the door. You must really enjoy the journey of learning jiu jitsu and take in all of the nuances. If you insist on being the guy that never taps, you will get hurt much more often. And of course if you are injured you won't be able to train. Be open to losing while in class. Help your classmates to get better. Enjoy the journey. Become a family!

These basics aren't a fully exhaustive list of everything you need to master. But they provide a great foundation to build upon. Walk into class ready to learn, guide your classmates where you can, and train hard. This is a special martial art and it can change you if you let it.

- Draculino

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