Rolling – aka Randori – A free sparring session.
Gi – Uniform
No-Gi – Practice/training without a Gi (uniform)
Armbar – Locking the elbow joint of an opponent’s arm. Usually causes opponent to tap out.
Back Mount or Rear Mount – This is a position where a student has control of another student from the back (i.e. a student is face down with another student straddling his back).
Break Fall – A technique to “break your fall” when thrown or falling by slapping your arm on the ground and properly positioning your body.
Bridge – A technique use to “buck” off or dislodge an opponent who is in the mount position.
Closed Guard – When you are on your back and you have your legs wrapped around your opponent’s back & your feet are locked together.
Gi Choke – Where you use your Gi (uniform) or your opponent’s Gi to perform a choking technique.
Guard Position – When a BJJ student is on the bottom trying to defend against another student (who is on top of them) by wrapping their legs around the opponent.
Half Guard – A defensive position where you are on your back. One of your feet is on the inside of an opponent’s leg and the other is on the outside. From this position, many students will try to move to a guard position.
Mount Position – Where a BJJ student is sitting on top of another student’s chest or waist.
Neck Crank – A technique where a BJJ student pulls on or twists an opponent’s head in order to create neck/spinal pain. Banned from most competitions.
Pass – Transitioning from one position to another (i.e. “passing” or getting around an opponent’s guard position in order to gain control).
Side Control – This is a position where a student controls another student from the side (i.e. one student is on his back and the other student is on top with his legs positioned out to the side of the opponent for better control).
Submission – Where a student forces another student to submit (give up) through a choke, arm bar, etc.
Sweep – Gaining a dominant position through a sweeping technique (i.e. knocking an opponent to the ground by sweeping them off their feet through a leg grab).
Take The Back – To maneuver into position to achieve a back mount (or rear mount).
Tap Out or Tapping – A BJJ student indicates his submission by tapping on the ground or on his opponent.
Turtle – A defensive ground position where you tuck in your arms, legs and head like a turtle hiding in its shell.
Open Mat – an informal practice session without an instructor which may include technique review, practice and/or rolling (sparring).
Kimura – aka double wrist lock
rear naked choke
Armbar from the Triangle
Armbar from the bottom.
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Back Control– The player takes control of the opponent’s back, placing the heels between the opponent’s thighs without crossing the legs. Must have one arm trapped (see “seat-belt”) or the ability to trap one arm in order to be given the points. This position is awarded four points if held for three seconds in competition.
Back Take– The transition from a position such as side control or mount to obtain back control.
Base– Refers to a player’s balance or center of gravity. A strong base is one where the center of gravity is low and a player has their back straight, head up, and knees wide resulting in good balance.
Cross Face– Pressure exerted on an opponent’s face, usually from shoulder pressure. The intention is to make an opponent incredibly uncomfortable so that they relinquish a grip or position to alleviate the pressure. Additionally, pressuring the head in one direction limits the bottom player’s mobility and explosive ability, making it impossible for the player to move in certain directions and escape.
Grips– Attaching our hands to our opponent, most of the time by grabbing their Gi Jacket or Pants. Our grips can refer to how we use our hands (thumb-up grip, thumb-down grip, Monkey grip (a.k.a. lip-grip), Pistol grip (a.k.a. squirt gun grip)) and/or where we are grabbing (Collar grip, Sleeve grip, Knee grip, Ankle grip, etc.). We even have a term for a grip that has no explicit purpose: Junk grip.
Guard– A position in Jiu Jitsu where you can either attack or defend. Playing guard refers to any position in which you’re attempting to control your opponent with your ankles, knees, or hips in an attempt to stop them from advancing their position, usually in conjunction with some sort of grip to hold them in place. Common Guards are open guard, closed guard, spiderguard, half guard, De la Riva/DLR (pronounced “De La HEE-va”), and Reverse De La Riva/RDLR. (See this article for a look at different guard variations.)
(Guard) Pass– The player on top (i.e. “passer”) successfully goes around/through the guard player’s legs and advances their position to either side control or north/south position. In competition, if the new position is held for three seconds, then three points are awarded to the passer. (See this article for an example of the Bullfighter Pass.)
Guard Pull– An alternative method of bringing the match to the ground. A guard-pull results in one player bringing the match to the ground with their feet in a position to control their opponent. A guard pull can result in any guard, or if the guard pull fails the position resolves with the guard being passed. No points are awarded for a guard pull in competition.
Hooks– Hooks refer to the top player’s legs when in back control. To place the hooks, one puts the tops of their feet on the inside of the controlled player’s thighs and presses out. This is used to control the rotation of the bottom player’s hips as they attempt to escape.
Invert/Inversion– The act of turning upside down (with feet above head and shoulders) while under your opponent. Doing so allows the player on bottom to keep their guard intact when the top player is trying to pass. Inverting is a relatively new concept in Jiu-Jitsu and has resulted in many new positions, attacks, and escapes.
Knee-on-Belly– The player on top places their knee on the belly, chest, or ribs of the player on the bottom. In order for points (2) to be awarded in competition, the player on top must have their outside (non-knee on belly) leg extended and their shoulders must be facing the head of the player on bottom. The position must be held for three seconds.
Mount (or Back Mount)- The player on top (no longer entangled in any guard) is sitting on their opponent’s torso with two knees (or one foot and one knee) on the ground, facing their opponent’s head. Four points will be awarded if this position is maintained for three seconds. (See this article on how to maintain a strong mount.)
Oss– An affirmative response literally meaning, “As you wish”. Derived from Japanese, there are many stories as to how the word “Oss” came to be used in martial arts; however, it is now accepted as the response a student gives to their instructor. “Oss” should be the first thing uttered by a student after being given an instruction by their teacher. The idea being that once the student responds “Oss” they should abide by the command. Also, used colloquially as a word for “Okay” or sometimes even “Cool”.
Posture– A position in which a player can maintain strong spinal alignment. Usually referred to when in an opponent’s guard. “Good” posture refers to a player’s spine being in alignment, which allows for optimal force production and defense from attacks. This position results from a player’s hips being positioned below their shoulders. Optimal posture occurs when the shoulders are stacked with the hips, allowing the center of gravity to be directly under the player. (See these articles on the introduction to posture and the application of posture)
Seatbelt (Harness)– A position of control where a player’s arms are wrapped around the opponent from the back. One arm is over the same side shoulder of the opponent’s (attacking arm) and the other is under-hooking (from the back) the opponent’s arm on the under-hook side. These arms meet at an opponent’s chest where the hand on the under-hooking side covers the fist of the attacking arm and pulling the opponent close to the chest. The shoulder of the attacking arm should find a place behind the opponent’s head for maximal control.
Shrimp/Hip Escape– The act of moving the hip away from an opponent. The shrimp allows a player to brace on their opponent and not allow them to advance, while the shrimping player scoots their hip away. Shrimping allows for a player to create space, usually resulting in replacing their guard. (See this article for how to escape from side control.)
Side-control– A dominant position where the top player is lying with their chest exerting pressure on their opponent while lying perpendicular to the player on bottom. From side control it is possible for the top player to exert considerable pressure on their opponent (usually via cross face). Side control is not awarded any points in any competition, but is one of the default spots to land when passing guard.
Submission– A technique that either chokes or has the capability to compress/hyperextend a joint to render an opponent unable to continue to fight. Usually, these techniques result in the defending player to “tap-out” and concede the match before serious injury.
Sweep– A sweep is initiated when a guard player forces a change in the position such that they (the guard player/person on bottom) end up in a top position. In competition this exchange results in two points being awarded to the player initiating the sweep and landing in the top position.
Take down– The act of bringing an opponent to the ground. Take downs usually refer to those used in wrestling where a player grabs the opponent’s legs and knocks them over. Common take downs are the Single Leg, Double Leg, and Fireman’s Carry. Taking down an opponent results in two points during a competition.
Tap-out– The act of one player gently slapping the mat or their opponent as an indication of giving up. Tap-outs typically result from a submission (choke or joint lock) being applied. It is also possible to tap verbally by saying “Tap” or being in audible pain. Sometimes, if a referee feels as if one player is in danger, the official will take the liberty to tap-out for the stubborn player. No matter the mechanism of tapping out, doing so results in the end of the match. When training, be sure to tap early and get another roll.
Throw– An alternative method of bringing an opponent to the ground. Throws refer to techniques commonly used in Judo. These techniques are initiated by first breaking an opponent’s posture and redistributing their center of gravity.
Under/Over Hook– The positioning of the arms in relation to your opponent. For an under hook, your arm is threaded between your opponent’s torso and their arm allowing for control. Under hooks are preferable to control your opponent and maintain their position. Over hooks refer to controlling your opponents arm by reaching over their arm, usually in between their shoulder and elbow. Over hooks are not often the optimal position, but result from your opponent attacking with under hooks.
COMMON JIU-JITSU POSITIONS
GLOSSARY of JIU-JITSU TERMS
How to pronounce numbers in Portuguese
0 – Zero [zeh-ro]
1 – Um [oon] / uma [oo-mah]
2 – Dois [doh-eesh] / duas [doo-ash]
3 – Três [treh-sh] or [tray-eess] in Brazil
4 – Quatro [kwa-troo]
5 – Cinco [cin-koo]
6 – Seis [say-eesh] or meia [may-eeah] (in Brazilian Portuguese when telling a phone number).
7 – Sete [set] or [se-chee] in Brazil.
8 – Oito [oy-too]
9 – Nove [noh-vee]