An introduction to BJJ

Our Ambassador and resident BJJ Champion Wayne tells us about his sport, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is martial art developed by the Gracie family. It is a grappling art which allows you to use technique and leverage to incapacitate your opponent safely with a submission maneuver. It was derived from Kodokan Judo by Carlos and Helio Gracie.

BJJ is made up of an endless list of positions, transitions and submissions. For anyone experiencing it for the first time it can be extremely confusing. It is essential when starting Jiu-Jitsu that you learn and understand the basic positions which are as follows:

The Guard: This is the best defensive position to be in as you are able to control your opponents body and prevent him from attacking. If an opponent is in your guard then you are lying on your back with your opponent between your legs. Your guard can either be “open guard” (your legs are open) or “closed guard” (your legs are around your opponents body and crossed).

Half Guard: In this position you are more vulnerable to attacks and your opponent has more control than if he is in your guard. If your opponent is in your half guard this means you are lying on your back with one of your opponents legs between your legs.

Side Control: If you are in your opponents side control you are in a dangerous position where you may be submitted or your opponent may transition to the full mount. If you have someone in side control you are in a very advantageous position. If someone has you in side control; you are on your back, chest to chest with your opponent with your opponents legs away from your body.

Full Mount: This is possibly the worst position to be in and the best position to have your opponent. If you have your opponent in this position you should be in full control and depending on your knowledge of this position you will have a good chance of submitting your opponent. If your opponent has you in full mount you are on your back with your opponents seated on your chest with their legs at either side of you in a kneeling position.

Back control: Another great position to have your opponent in and a terrible position for you to be in. From here you have great control over your opponent and their ability to defend is limited. This position is where you are controlling your opponent from their back. This can be a back mount where your opponent is lying on their front and you are on their back, similar to full mount position, or where you are lying on your back controlling your opponent’s body from underneath them.

And now for a little introduction to Competition BJJ;

Usually Competitions are divided up into matches between the same belt ranks and weight classes within the belt ranks.

The progressive ranks in BJJ are white, yellow, orange, green, blue (after 16), purple, brown and finally black belt.

The match begins with competitors standing up on padded mats wearing ‘Gis’. Competitors attempt to perform takedown throws, foot sweeps, tackles, or alternatively, pulling the opponent to “guard”. Once on the ground, they grapple but are allowed to stand up at anytime.

Time limits vary depending on belt level usually;

  • White Belt & Juvenile 5 Mins
  • Blue Belt 6 Mins
  • Purple Belt 7 Mins
  • Brown Belt 8 Mins
  • Black Belt 10 Mins

In BJJ there is never a draw and all bouts will be decided by:

  • Submission (when a technique forces an opponent to admit defeat or ‘’to tap’’
  • Points (As above)
  • Advantages (When points are even it goes to advantages when these are even it is up to the referee to decide who won the fight based on positional control, aggressiveness and their efforts to finish the fight)
  • Disqualification (An opponent may be disqualified for any unacceptable misuse of the rules)

There is no single governing body for BJJ but in my experience many competitions try to adopt the rules of the International Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Federation or IBJJF.

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