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3 Fundamental Jiu Jitsu Techniques For Beginners


When you first start Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, it’s easy to feel completely overwhelmed by the number of techniques and positions.

It’s certainly true that the list of ‘must know’ BJJ moves can get pretty long and will take some effort to learn them all. 

Nevertheless, starting with one move at a time is the only tried and true method for successfully learning an arsenal of effective techniques.

Luckily, you can now learn many of these moves on your own and begin implementing them during rolls. 

With the JiuJitsu.com instructional series “20 Jiu Jitsu Moves You Need to Know,” 3rd Degree BJJ black belt Josh Griffiths breaks down the key moves you should learn as a beginner to quickly level up your game and have some good options from many of the common positions.

The techniques covered include:

  • Arm drag from closed guard
  • Head-and-arm choke
  • Americana from mount

If you have some time on the mats already, you probably realize how foundational these techniques are. 

Note: we will describe these techniques by specifying left and right arms so you can get the combinations correct. If attacking the opposite side, the left and right descriptions are simply reversed.

Arm drag from closed guard

Whether you are a beginner or have years on the mat, closed guard is a foundational position that you will frequently be battling from.

The arm drag from closed guard is a great attack option from the position advance to the back mount and progress towards the submission.

To perform the arm drag from closed guard:

  1. Begin with your opponent in your closed guard.
  2. Take a double wrist grip on your opponent’s left arm and break any grip you opponent may have.
  3. Pull your opponent’s arm across your body to your lift side as you bring them forward with both legs.
  4. Let go of their sleeve with your right hand and reach around to their far side across their back to set up the final back take. Maintain your left grip on their left sleeve throughout.
  5. Maintain a tight connection to your opponent throughout the movement.
  6. Scoot out towards your left side to finalize the back take.

Your ability to pull this move off depends on the proper timing of bringing your legs towards you as you drag your opponent’s arm across. 

You must maintain the tight connection to avoid having your opponent square right back up to you.

Head and arm choke

Head and arm chokes are a class of submission that utilizes pressure your opponent’s shoulder to cut off blood on one side and your arm or other body part to cut off blood on the far side.

Josh Griffith’s head and arm choke from mount is a great attack option once you have secured top mount.

  1. Once you are established in mount, work to get head and arm control by cross facing your opponent with your right shoulder and underhooking their right arm with your left hand. 
  2. Crawl your left hand up the floor towards your opponent’s head until you can cross your opponent’s right arm across their face, then gable grip your hands for strong head and arm control.
  3. Once this strong head and arm position is established, windshield your right shin over your opponent’s belly to come to a modified knee ride side mount position with your right knee just on top of your opponent’s right hip. 
  4. Compress your opponent by tucking your chin over your gable-gripped hands to apply choking pressure and get the tap.

A key detail for racking up tremendous pressure is the chin tuck over your own wrists and hands. From there, relaxing and sinking your weight down will cause immense choking force without much effort on your part – which is the main goal of great BJJ.

Americana from mount

The Americana is a foundational shoulder lock attack you can hit from several positions, including the full mount. The Americana becomes available when your opponent defends the mounted choke by placing their hands in front of their face and neck.

To attack the Americana from mount:

  1. When your opponent defends the choke, take a 2-on-1 grip on their left arm and bring it to the floor next to the left side of their head.
  2. Take your right elbow across your opponent’s face to the right side of their head while maintaining your grip on their wrist with your right hand.
  3. Let go of the wrist with your left hand and slide it under your opponent’s upper arm, then grip your left wrist with your right hand.
  4. To finish the submission, curl your right hand fingers over and around your opponent’s wrist to begin rotating their forearm away from their body.
  5. Kick your right leg straight for extra base.
  6. Lift your opponent’s elbow by raising your left forearm upwards as your drag your opponent’s knuckles across the floor. The tap should soon follow.

The mounted choke attacks work well with the Americana from mount because defending the choke often opens up the Americana submission. 

Ultimately, you will almost always need to chain your submissions to successfully tap out skilled BJJ players.

Focus On Foundational Techniques

While there are a nearly endless number of techniques in BJJ, you need to focus on the basic moves rather than constantly chasing the latest variation.

Most highly successful BJJ players have a few moves they have completely mastered and can pull off on other high level players. Legends like Roger Gracie for won all of his world championships with fundamental techniques.

The Josh Griffith’s 20 BJJ Moves You Need to Know covers some of the most fundamental techniques you should know for grappling (notice we did not say *basic techniques*).

For complete access to all of these Josh Griffiths techniques, click here!

Jordan Fernandez

Jordan Fernandez 

Jordan is a 10th Planet Purple Belt, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and personal trainer. When not on the mats or at the gym, he writes about all things BJJ and fitness and aggressively stretches and foam rolls on the living room floor.

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