BJJ

BJJ Basics: Shrimping – How It's Footwork On Your Back

By February 4, 2015November 9th, 2021No Comments
how to shrimp in BJJ

In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, think of shrimping as footwork for when you’re on your back. Essentially, you are using your hips and your shoulders as if they were feet.

It’s how to move and create space between yourself and your opponent when you’re on your back.

Let’s start with Shrimping towards your head.  Shrimping towards your head is the easiest of all the shrimping motions and all BJJ newbies ought to start with this primary movement before attempting any of the more advanced variations.

Shrimping Up Towards Your Head

What I’m trying to do is displace my body to create distance between myself and my opponent. To do so I want to travel up towards my head.

To start off, I am on my back in a fetal position, with my knees bent and my heals close to my hips. Now I am going to try to move up.

From this position, I am going to lift my hips and turn my body to the right side, rotating on my right shoulder. Then I am going to extend my legs and move my hips up to where my head is as I extend my legs. Now I am going to come back into the original fetal position on my back. I’ve now displaced myself, having moved up towards where my head was at the beginning.

As an exercise, I can do this again, turning to the right or left and continue shrimping up the mat.

I’ll show you what I mean, just watch the video below.

Video: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Basics: Shrimping Up Towards Your Head

Similar to shrimping up towards your head is shrimping to the side.  It’s the most practical way to escape positions such as bottom cross side and bottom mount and bottom knee mount.

Shrimping to the Side

To begin, I am of course on my back. My feet are on the floor, really close to my hips. This is imperative. Next I’m going to turn to my right side, but as I turn to my side I am going to move my hip to the left of my original position.

Now I am going to turn to my right side and stick my butt out to the left, and then assume my original position on my back. I will bring my feet and my shoulders into alignment. Now I am further to the left then when I began.

I can also shrimp to the opposite direction, turning to the left and moving my body right in a linear manner.

I know, I know, it really doesn’t make much sense when I try to verbally describe it.  Watch the video demonstration of the Shrimping technique and it’ll totally make more sense.

Video: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Basics: Shrimping to the Side

Let’s now talk about a method to move your body down towards your feet when you’re on your back. This direction of shrimping is the most complex method of shrimping but an important skill to master for any BJJ practitioner.

Shrimping Towards Your Feet

This is the most difficult form of shrimping but it’s imperative for a lot of the escapes that you are going to do when you’re in the bottom position.

To begin, I’m going to start off on my back, with my feet on the floor. Next I’m going to extend my right leg so that is is straight, flat against the floor. Using my right shoulder against the floor, I’m going to turn slightly on the right side of my body.

Now I’m going to kick my left leg up, bringing my hip up to the sky, as I use my right heel to pull my hip down towards my right heel. Now I’ve brought my heel and my hip together, having moved down the mat.

Now I’m going to do the move again on the opposite side. I extend my left leg. I use my left shoulder against the floor, turning my body to the side. Then I kick the sky with my right leg, this will help me lift my hip up off the floor, as I use my left heel to bring my hip down towards my heel.

This is the most difficult form of shrimping. This is an important drill to use if you’re trying to create distance from your training partner.

The video below fully demonstrates what I’m talking about; so, be sure to check it out.

Video: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Basics: Shrimping towards your Feet

Shrimping on One Foot

In all the classes that  I teach in BJJ, a warmup exercise I use is shrimping with one foot. In this position, I am on my back and I have one foot on the floor on my toes with that heal close to my hip. My other foot is up, and I am lifting my hip, turning my whole body to the right side, then turning it to the left, repeating this move. As I am turning, I am keeping my elbows and my knees together. I can also switch foots and repeat this move.

Perhaps your training partner or opponent is in your guard. Then say you are controling their right arm. You are lucky enough to get your right foot on his hip. Now, you can lift your hip and bring it to the left, away from your opponent. Then you could reach up, grab his belt with your left hand, post up, drag him back, and possibly take his back.

Shrimping on one foot is advanced but it’s a very practical way to move your hips and augment the distance between you and your training partner.

Watch the video below and I’ll show you what I mean.

Video: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Basics: Shrimping on One Foot

So, there you have it!  A comprehensive article on shrimping and how to move when you’re on your back.

I hope this breakdown helps!

Ritchie Yip

Ritchie Yip

Ritchie Yip is the Head Instructor for InFighting Training Centers located in Downtown Vancouver and Brentwood Burnaby. InFighting Training Centers offers programs in Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Bootcamp Conditioning Classes and Personal Training