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There are certain unspoken rules of jiu jitsu that most practitioners know and respect. Like all grappling sports, jiu jitsu is very competitive, often fueled by ego. Whether you admit it or not, almost everyone wants to come out on top of every roll no matter if it’s in competition or friendly rolls in your academy. It’s human nature to want to win.
But let’s face it, no one wants to roll with that one guy in class who goes 100% all the time and will do anything necessary to win and become the uncrowned open mat champion of his gym.
Before we get into the full list, understand that just because a lot of these “techniques” are 100% legal for competition doesn’t mean it’s cool to use them on your training partners on a daily basis.
We’ve compiled a list of 30 jiu jitsu techniques you should avoid during training if you don’t want to be public enemy #1 in your gym.
In competition? Go ahead, sweep the leg.
It’s never okay to grab fingers while rolling. Grab the wrist or the hand, if you start peeling and twisting fingers off a lapel grip you’re surely going to piss off your sparring partner.
Okay, we shouldn’t even have to put this one on the list, but if you intentional scratch or pinch your opponent that’s just weird. Also, cut your fingernails!
You all know that guy, he’ll start out by saying something like “Bro, let’s just flow.”
10 seconds later he’s going ape shit trying to pass your guard.
Don’t be this guy.
Accidents happen, but you all know that one person who is always somehow either kneeing or elbowing someone during transitions. Slow down and transition with style.
Easiest way to pass from knee slice? Knee ’em right in the stones. I’m all for this technique in competition, but please for the sake of your training partners future, don’t do this in class.
The oldest trick in the book. This may be the most effective technique in this list, nothing will help you advance your position better than a good ole oil check. On the flip side, nothing will stop your training partner from ever wanting to roll with you again.
Okay, there is nothing like a good knee on belly. I love just thinking about it.
But if you’re trying to suck the soul out of your training partner by driving your knee through the floor, you deserve what’s coming up next.
A little self awareness goes along way. If you are drenched in sweat, try to avoid waterboarding your opponent from north south or heavy side control.
The Vagner Rocha special.
Just because you’ve seen your favorite MMA fighter do this, doesn’t mean it’s cool to do while rolling. If you rely on this technique, you deserve to be bitten.
This is an old school trick that almost didn’t make the list as it’s a crazy effective way to break the closed guard as well as other positions.
If you have to rely on the can opener to break someones closed guard, you should go back to jiu jitsu 101 class. You can also really injure someone who has never had it applied on them before.
You know your body better than anyone. If you like to play north south, please keep your junk north of your training partners face.
Long hair? Put it up, tie it back, roll it in a bun, whatever you do keep it out of your opponents face.
We covered the knee on soul above, but equally dirty is the knee on throat. If you’re trying to get out of a scissor choke from side control, go for it, otherwise avoid it.
Nothing like sinking in the perfect heel hook in practice…
Except for the fact that you did it to a white belt with the gi on.
Every gym and training partner is different, but generally speaking if your partners skill level doesn’t allow a certain technique don’t do it to him. Do this with discretion, they should be aware and should be working on these as they progress but there is no reason to knee bar a white belt who just finished his 3rd trial class…
Same as above, as fun as it is making white belts squeal by catching them in a wrist lock, don’t do it. You know it’s there, go for something else, it’ll make you better.
Another old school favorite. Pulling back on the nose (or worst – on the eye socket) to expose your opponents neck is perfectly acceptable in competition, but try not to gouge your opponents eyes out during training.
Work on finding other ways to expose the neck.
This is a spazzy white belt favorite. While I’ve never seen anyone get picked up and straight up power-bombed in class, I’ve seen plenty of strong white belts get frustrated and proceed to lift their opponent up from closed guard a few inches and drop them over and over.
This is a great way to get straight arm barred by someone who doesn’t care about hyperextending your joint.
Posting up and driving your forearm in your opponents choke is going to do one thing and one thing only: piss them off.
It also opens you up for a ton of counters that you probably don’t want coming your way.
Another old school jiu jitsu move that should be avoided in training.
“That was a choke right?”
… if you have to ask your partner if your choke was a choke, chances are it wasn’t a choke and you were just crushing their jaw.
Otherwise known as the “universal piss your partner off button.”
Aside from the fact that most upper belts no longer have nerves in their thighs from years of dealing with this, it’s just not very effective. But it’s a great way to make your opponent want to sub you that much more!
Performing the heimlich maneuver on your opponent while he’s in turtle is a great way to open him up to get your hooks in.
But if you do that to me, we’re probably not friends after this roll.
Another one that almost didn’t make the list. If you’re trying to pass to side control putting your skull on your opponents chin and flattening them out is almost unstoppable if you know what you’re doing.
On the other hand, doing this to your training partners day in and day out probably makes them avoid you during open mat.
Go ahead and use everything you’ve got in a tournament!
You can do an effective collar drag without forcing your opponents to eat the mat.
If you need to tap, tap. Accept defeat and move on, don’t play stupid games.
Nothing makes you look more cowardly than trying to pull off the Brazilian tap.
There’s a reason grips are illegal, and if you like to compete you should take your grips seriously during training.
If you’re good enough to pass straight through my guard from standing, you’re good enough to do so without stomping on my thighs.
Welcome to the side control show with Jay Leno!
This is a great way to get the kimura from top side control while your opponent is grabbing their own belt as a defense.
Is see this a lot in nogi training, especially with that one guy who always forgets its nogi class so ends up training with his gi pants on.
There you have it, the 30 Dirty Jiu Jitsu Techniques to avoid during training! Of course this should be used as a general guideline, use anything above(except the oil check, never oil check) at your own discretion.
And always remember – if you’re a lower belt rolling with an upper belt, what goes around comes around.
In an unprecedented move, the IBJJF has announced that they will waive one tournament registration fee for everyone!
Assuming the regular tournament schedule starts back up shortly. This offer is only good for tournaments scheduled in April.
You guys really think the IBJJF would do that?
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With the world preparing for a zombie apocalypse in the form of Covid-19, many BJJ gyms around the world have temporarily closed until the situation has calmed down. If your gym remains open, you may not be comfortable rolling in a group setting either.
So can you still get better and continue to train BJJ through solo at-home drills? You sure can! We’ve put together a collection of solo BJJ drills below that you can do at home to help your jiu jitsu stay sharp during these weird times.
Professor Phillip Wyman, a Ribeiro Jiu-Jitsu black belt shows us 8 solo drills that you can do at home.
This short circuit is great for warming up, but also great to keep your jiu jitsu muscle memory in form.
One of our favorite Youtubers Nick Albin (Chewjitsu) goes over three BJJ drills that are incredibly helpful for developing a crazy guard passing game. He also goes into explaining the concepts and exactly how they will work in competition or sparing.
This is a solid circuit training series for Brazillian Jiu Jitsu and No-gi Grappling that goes over a lot of different pass and transition variations, as well as different body mechanic workouts.
Eli Knight shows some really cool – and practical solo drills that you can do to build your bottom guard game. Focusing on mobility and fluidity only using a throwing bag or heavy bag.
5X World Champion Bernando Faria and Mike Perry show you a crazy effective kettlebell workout that you can do from your living room. This efficient workout doesn’t requite much space and focuses on building up your speed, strength, grips, and overall conditioning.
After several challenge matches in Brazil Grandmaster Helio Gracie found out that the best Japanese jiu-jitsu fighter ever Masahiko Kimura was going to be in Brazil.
Masahiko Kimura accepted Helio Gracie’s challenge with one condition: he would have to fight the second best Japanese jiu jitsu fighter ever, a fighter named Kato. On top of that, Helio needed to beat Kato as easily as Kimura would beat Katu.
After a fairly one-sided match, Helio ended up choking Kato out in 6 minutes. After that fight, Kimura had no choice but to accept the challenge from Helio Gracie.
The fight was held on October 23, 1951 at Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with over 200,000 people in attendance. This historic event was the first time that a jiu jitsu championship would be fought outside of Japan.
The fight was scheduled for two ten minute rounds, but Kimura was so confident of victory that he told the newspapers that if Helio could last for three minutes that he should be declared the winner!
As the fight started, Kimura was throwing Helio Gracie around like a rag doll, but having a very hard time controlling or submitting Helio who was known for his defense.
Midway through the second round, Kimura finally caught Helio with a shoulder lock that later became known as the Kimura.
Helvecio Penna is a Jiu Jitsu black belt with a unique story; he is over 50 and still competes in the adult division against some of the best black belts in the world.
Penna started training at the age of 31 under the famous Ricardo De La Riva and received his Black Belt he was 42. Since then he has won the Masters & Seniors World title 7 times!
Outside of competition, Helvecio also works full time and helps the kids in the slums of Rio. Life can’t get more meaningful than that.
In this short documentary by Jits Magazine, Helvecio shares his experiences training and competing Jiu Jitsu and why it’s never too late to start.
Whether you like to use the lapel guard or not, it’s a good idea to understand the mechanics of it so you can avoid it or use it to escape a tricky situation.
These video’s from Keenan Cornelius will provide a solid introduction to the Lapel Guard and how to use it effectively in training or competition.
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In the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the debate about technique versus concepts, drilling versus rolling has raised its head again. Champions like André Galvão advocate drilling for expert BJJ performance while others, such as Kit Dale, argue that it isn’t necessary, favoring rolling instead. So who is right?
As is often the case, both approaches may be useful. Between my job as university education adviser and my sport psychology training, I’m really interested in how people learn. And my passion for BJJ means I’m always thinking about how it works in jiu jitsu too. Understanding learning theory and sport psychology can help us to make good, informed choices when it comes to improving BJJ. Here comes the science…
The idea of drilling a technique over and over is that you learn it so well that you don’t even have to consciously think about it. This is supported by Fitts and Posners’ three stages of motor learning: Cognitive, Associative and Autonomous.
Cognitive stage: When we first start to learn a physical skill like BJJ, all of our attention is given over to simply executing the movement.
Associative stage: After a while, we begin to transfer what to do into how to do it. Our movements are still under conscious control. We still have to think about the technique but start making adjustments and stringing parts together into larger chunks.
Autonomous stage: Finally after many hours of practice, the skills are refined and seemingly automatic. As we transition through the stages, our technique becomes more efficient and we expend less physical and mental energy to achieve the same results.
Take the triangle, for example. In the cognitive stage, we would normally start with a few crude movements and try to replicate what we’ve seen and heard from other people. In the associative stage, we might pay more attention to details like the angle of our leg across our opponent’s shoulders or how we break their posture. In the autonomous stage, we don’t have to consciously concentrate on each aspect of the triangle to successfully pull off the submission.
Reaching the autonomous stage can be beneficial because it reduces cognitive demands and lets you focus on other aspects of performance (e.g., what your opponent is doing, your game plan). When high-level athletes encourage drilling, it’s because it can help you reach this autonomous stage of skill acquisition.
In his article ‘Why Concepts Are Better Than Techniques in BJJ’, Kit Dale argues that the traditional approach to teaching jiu jitsu is outdated. I’m not so sure about that. Instruction can help to give some direction about what you should be doing. It would be hard for a beginner to execute a triangle without ever having seen it before. And valuable feedback from an instructor can help to focus your effort and accelerate your learning.
Traditional martial arts teaching (i.e., a physical demonstration accompanied by verbal explanation) involves an explicit approach to learning. It gives students specific information about how to perform a skill. It can be very helpful, especially for a beginner, to consciously take on board important elements.
But this type of instruction can also be problematic. In a classic piece of research with golfers, Professor Richard Masters found that novice players who learned a golf putt through typical instruction were more susceptible to choking under pressure. In contrast, players who learned the golf putt implicitly (i.e., without formal instruction) did not suffer the same performance decrements.
When we learn skills explicitly, by having particular aspects pointed out to us, we tend to fall back on these specific rules when stressed. We try to consciously control movements which would normally be automatic. In short, we experience ‘paralysis by analysis’. On the other hand, when we learn skills implicitly via subconscious processes, we don’t have any specific instructions to rely on. We are less likely to consciously control a skill because we are not fully aware of how we do it in the first place.
It seems that the Australian black belt does have a point. By encouraging rolling over drilling, Kit Dale is effectively supporting an implicit learning process which reduces the likelihood of crumbling in stressful situations.
Designing an implicit learning environment is a tricky business, however. Rather than coaching their students to replicate precise techniques, great BJJ teachers scaffold environments to guide their students. It’s not about leaving students to their own devices, but about nudging them in the right direction and encouraging them to take ownership of their own learning.
So what’s the ‘take home’ message? If you’ve read this far, you’ll realise that learning is a complex business, especially in an art as multifaceted as BJJ. Drilling has its uses, so does rolling. No single approach is perfect. Use them as you see fit.
About Dr. Rebecca Hill:
Dr Rebecca Hill is a Sport and Exercise Psychologist chartered by the British Psychological Society. She is passionate about helping martial artists and combat athletes reach their performance potential through mental skills development.
She is also a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt competitor under world champion Victor Estima, and current European Champion.
We are super excited to share the news with you that we have recently acquired BJJ Religion, an innovative Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Gi company.
We went after this company specifically because of the quality of the product and the innovation and attention to detail in every aspect of design and craftsmanship.
Here is a little bit about the ethos of this company that really resonated with us…
We started making Gis because we wanted to be in touch with every aspect of the sport.
We know how personal a thing the gi can be: it is your armor before battle, your ceremonial robe, an extension of you and a representation of your passion.
The importance of the gi has put us on a quest to bring forth the best a that a gi can offer: innovation, functionality, comfort, personality and style. We have seen too little evolution in the traditional gi uniform, and as enthusiastic students of the art, we want the uniform to evolve like the art itself.
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Since 2006, there have only been three featherweight black belt world champions. Of the 10 titles, 9 are held by Rafael Mendes and Rubens ‘Cobrinha’ Charles (the 10th is held by Augusto Mendes)
This battle between Rafael Mendes vs Rubens Cobrinha Charles is arguably the greatest rivalry in Jiu Jitsu competition history.
In total, the two have faced each other 15 times since 2008 and have produced some of incredibly exciting matches.
Their first match was at the Capital challenge in Jordan. Rafa Mendes was only 19 but he was already an accomplished grappler having won the worlds at every belt level. Cobrinha was had just won become world champion for a thrid year in a row.
The fight is particularly interesting as it shows the origins of Mendes game. He is still using De La Riva, Berimbolo, and 50/50 attacks but if you compare this to their most recent meeting in 2015 you can see how far his game has progressed.
Cobrinha shows his awesome guard passing, balance, and pressure to neutralise Mendes game and secure the pass late in the match to win 3×0
The next time they would fight was at the 2009 Pan Am Championships in California. This would be Rafael’s debut as a Black Belt in an IBJJF competition.
Mendes and Charles would face each other in the semi-final, but, unfortunately, Rafa got disqualified for reaping Cobrinha’s knee.
Cobrinha would go on to win the featherweight division and place third in the absolute after an amazing performance.
Their third match would take place a few months later at the Abu Dhabi World Pro.
This match was a back and forth battle and a preview of many of their matches to come. Much of the fight being was in the 50/50 position where both fighters attacked with sweeps and submissions.
Rafa Mendes claimed his first victory over Cobrinha after winning the fight with a score of 4×2.
The next time they would meet would be in the semi-final of the world championships in Long Beach, California.
Again much of this match would take place in the 50/50 position with both fighters trading sweeps but unable to advance from there.
With the scores tied at 4×4 and level on advantages, Cobrinha was awarded the referee’s decision.
The final time the Mendes and Cobrinha would face each other in 2009 was in the final of the ADCC’s in Barcelona, Spain.
Rafa had destroyed his side of the bracket, submitting all his opponents on the way to the final. On the other side of the bracket Cobrinha had comfortably dispatched his opponents with out much difficulty.
An interesting point about the ADCC’s is the inclusion of Heel Hooks. Up to this point, all of Mendes and Cobrinha’s matches had been played out in the 50/50, which is an excellent place to get heel hooked from.
Many people wondered how this would affect the outcome of this fight and if they would still choose to play this style of Jiu Jitsu.
The fight turned out to be a war of attrition and lasted 40 minutes.
Both Mendes and Cobrinha had moderate success throughout the fight, but it wasn’t until a few moment’s from the end of the second overtime period that either fighter secured anything significant.
In the dying minutes of the contest, Rafa Mendes exectued a beautiful transition from 50/50 to take Cobrinha’s back and secure victory 7×4
There was plenty of action in this fight and neither competitor seemed concerned about using the 50/50 position. Both Cobrinha and Mendes were able to defend the leg attacks and showed it could be an effective postition under any rule set.
The first time the Mendes and Charles would meet in 2010 would be at the famed Tijuca Tennis Club in Rio de Janeiro at the Brazilian Nationals (known as the Brasileiro’s).
As with many of their fights, this proved to be a battle from the 50/50 position with both athletes attempting sweeps and foot locks. With a score of 4×2 Mendes was awarded the victory.
The second meeting between Cobrinha and Mendes in 2010 would take place in the final of the World Championships.
Both Cobrinha and Mendes had dominated their previous opponents and the final was set to decide who would be crowned king of the featherweight BJJ world.
After 10 minutes of back and forth action Rafa Mendes would take the victory by 4×4, 5-3 advantages and win his first world title.
In 2011, Cobrinha and Rafa would only fight once. That fight would take place in the finals of the -66kg category at the ADCC in Nottingham, UK.
After a period of feeling each other Cobrinha jumps guard and it hits the ground, almost immediately the inevitable 50/50 battle begins.
Both Cobrinha and Mendes attacked with tight leg locks, but neither fighter was able to secure the submission.
When the 20 minute time period expires the score stands at 0x0, but Mendes is declared the winner due to a negative point Cobrinha scored for jumping guard.
The first meeting between the pair in 2012 was at the Pan Ams in California. This would be the only submission victory in all of their matches.
The match starts with Mendes pulling guard and immediately hunting the Berimbolo, Cobrinha defends with his legendary balance, then at around the four-minute mark something dramatic happens.
Rafa Mendes sweeps and immediately starts to pass Cobrinha’s guard. Cobrinha defends but leaves his arm exposed and Mendes pounces attacking with a tight armlock.
The finish comes shortly after and Rafael Mendes becomes the first person to submit Cobrinha in the featherweight division.
(Cobrinha’s only other submission loss as a black belt was against Rodolfo Vieira in 2011)
Just a few short months later, Cobrinha would face Mendes again in the finals of the Mundials (World Championships) in California.
Cobrinha clearly wanted revenge and had made some adjustments to his game. This was an incredibly close match with neither fighter giving an inch.
When the match ended neither fighter had scored a point and it came down to the referee’s to decide the victor.
Rafael Mendes was again crowned black belt featherweight champion of the world.
The next time the two would meet would be at the Pan Ams in California. Again this was an incredibly close match with neither competitor achieving any real dominance.
After a hard battle, the score stood at 2×2 and Mendes was again awarded the victory via referee’s decision.
So far the only major title to eluded Cobrinha had been the ADCC crown. On the previous two occasions he had been in the tournament he’d lost to Rafa Mendes in the final.
The -66kg division in the 2013 ADCC was incredibly tough and included almost feature every major featherweight competitor in the world.
This fight turned out to be a war of attrition with much of the fight spent wrestling.
After 40 minutes of action, Cobrinha was awarded the victory via referee’s decision and claimed his first ADCC title.
Cobrinha and Mendes would only face each other once in 2014 and that was in the final of the 2014 World Championships.
This was probably the most back and forth battle of all their matches. Both competitors secured numerous sweeps, but ultimately Mendes won the fight by 10×8.
Their final meeting to date took place at the world championships in 2015 in California.
This match is the most one-sided match between the two, after Mendes submission victory at the Pan Ams in 2012,
Mendes pulled guard and quickly inverted almost taking Cobrinha’s back and passing guard. Cobrinha manages to scramble back to 50/50 but only few moments later Mendes inverts again and takes Cobrinha’s back.
Although Cobrinha does manage to escape towards the end of the match, he’s unable to recover the points and Mendes wins by 6×0
The rivalry between Rafael Mendes and Rubens Cobrinha Charles has been one of the greatest in Jiu Jitsu history. Many of their matches are incredibly close and often won by referee’s decision or a single advantage.
Mendes is already considered one of the greatest Jiu Jitsu athletes ever and at only 26 years old and many people believe he is only just coming into his prime.
At 36 years old many people believe Cobrinha is coming to the end of his career. However, he is still an active competitor and still compete’s at the highest level. Most recently he won -66kg division again at the ADCC 2015.
This rivalry can be seen as a changing of the guard between the old and the new but if both athletes were in their prime some of the results may have been very different.
Mendes sums up the rivalry best in his Facebook post after winning the worlds in 2015.
“Royler inspired me to start my journey & Cobrinha brought the fire in me, because of Cobrinha I became probably ten times better than I would ever be if he was not there, I trained harder every single day.”
That is why rivalries like this take great fighters to exceptional and beyond.
Without a doubt both Mendes and Cobrinha will be remembered as two of the greatest Jiu Jitsu competitors of all time.
World champion Caio Terra rose through the ranks of jiu-jitsu at an incredible rate, achieving his black belt in just over three years.
The outspoken rooster-weight champion is known for his incredible technical knowledge and proficiency.
In this interview from BJJ Hacks, Caio gives some invaluable advice on how to become successful in Jiu Jitsu and life.
Julio Cesar Pereira is a 6th degree Black Belt and a founding member of Grappling Fight Team (better known as GF Team) in Rio de Janeiro.
Unlike many of Jiu Jitsu players, his lineage does not come from the Gracies. Instead, Pereira’s routes come directly from Oswaldo Fadda.
He is an accomplished competitor in his own right and is responsible for developing some of the top Jiu Jitsu competitors in the world today, such as Rodolfo Vieira, Denilson Pimenta, and Vitor Oliveira.
Check out this short highlight video to learn more about Julio Cesar Pereira and his history in Jiu Jitsu.
Special Message from Rafael Lovato Jr…
I am super excited to share with you a NEW and SIMPLE highly effective guard grip and submission game that is working WONDERS for me and my students right now.
I just finished filming a full “cross collar killer” instructional and I have a brand new free preview video that breaks down the basic idea behind how and why this works so well…
In these NEW technique videos I show you how and why a simple tweak to my grips from the guard allowed me to SKYROCKET the submissions I catch with very little change to my game and how YOU can start using it.
Top three reasons my new Cross Guard Killer works so well:
#1. It allows you to control the power hand and shut down your opponents guard passing
#2. This grip sets up your attack the weak side of your opponent skyrocketing submissions
#3. It allows you a powerful defense with a built in frame and guard pass protection
Offense is often the best defense in Jiu Jitsu. By attacking my opponent it eliminates their ability to defend. For many years, I focused on securing the position before I attacked with a submission.
However, this strategy lead to many years of frustration. I was so focused on securing the position my opponents would easily escape because they only had to focus on defending one thing. After a while (and a lot of frustration), I discovered the best way to counter this was by attacking.
This normally leads to one of two things happening: I’d get the submission or they’d defend the submission which allowed me to improve my position and then I got the submission.
Either way, it was a win / win situation for me!
This X-Guard is actually very simple if you know the correct entries and control points.
Rafael Lovato Jr. have developed a great system for how to master the X-Guard no matter what your body type, skill level or experience and you can get access to the full instructional here:
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