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If you live in Vancouver and you’re looking to start training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, here’s everything you need to know to start BJJ in Vancouver.
Vancouver’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Plus, it has world class Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. If you’re looking for a fun, engaging new way to stay in shape; while learning a proven self defense system; then, BJJ might be perfect for you.
BJJ is one of the most proven forms of self defense on the planet. Plus, BJJ is a fun, effective way to get in shape, learn a new skill, and meet some cool new friends!
But, you’re probably a bit intimidated about jumping right into your first BJJ class…But, don’t worry, I’ve put together a BJJ beginner’s guide to help you.
BJJ Basics – A Quick Introduction For The Total Newbie 🤓
There are some of the basic BJJ techniques that every new student to BJJ starts with.
I’ve done a complete breakdown of some of these techniques; so, you’ll feel confident and competent in your first Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class!
Let’s get started!! 😃
Firstly, what is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu? 🤔
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is both a system of self defense and a sport.
There are BJJ tournaments all around the world with many tournaments for BJJ in Vancouver each year.
In this article, I’ll be referring to BJJ as both a self defense system and as a sport.
Firstly, let’s start with the basics. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a way for you to defend yourself if you’re lying on your back.
Typically, when you first start a martial art, the first thing someone will teach you is fight stance. However, this has an inherent problem; since, this assumes that you can get into a fight stance.
BJJ is a highly effective form of self defense because it starts with you in a terrible position – with you on your back! 😳
So here’s the scenario:
What if you’re lying on the ground on your back with a bigger, stronger attacker looming over you?
We need a way to defend ourselves when we are on our back. Luckily, there’s Brazilian Jiu Jitsu! 😃
The first BJJ technique I’m going to introduce to you is the Technical Stand Up.
The Technical Standup
The Technical Standup is the most important technique in all of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Getting up to your feet is the primary objective when you’re fighting on your back. And, BJJ provides an effective, efficient method of getting up to your feet when you’re on your back – this is called the Technical Standup.
Another core principle in fighting is distance management; meaning, if my opponent steps forward, I need to step back and if my opponent steps back, I need to step forward. Distance management in Boxing is called footwork; however, we still need footwork when we are on our back.
The first stage of learning footwork when we are on our back is something I call Butt Scooting. Butt Scooting looks like I’m sitting at the beach. My right hand is propping up my torso while my left hand is in between my nose and my partner’s nose.
I can Butt Scoot forward and back by thinking that my right hand is my right foot and my hip is my left foot.
From this Butt Scooting position I can start to stand up in a safe, intelligent manner. In BJJ, we call this the Technical Standup; meaning, it’s a specific, technical way to get up on your feet when you’re on your back.
The Technical Standup is method for you to get back up on your feet when there’s someone on top of you and resisting your ability to stand up; and thus, the most important thing is to have at least one hand up at all times.
If you have both of your hands down to the ground; then, your opponent can easily attack you.
But, what if you’re flat on your back?
And you can’t sit up, and you can’t do the Technical Standup?
Well, that’s when we do some Shrimping!
Shrimping is essentially footwork; but, when you’re on your back. Shrimping allows you to control the distance and the angles between you and your opponent.
Shrimping allows me to move on my shoulder so that I can build up to my elbow; and then, eventually to my hand; so, that I can do my Technical Stand Up.
The best way to learn how to Shrimp is to start with Butt Scooting. Remember, Butt Scooting is where we use our right hand as our right foot and our hip as our left foot. And, Butt Scooting is the best way to start learning how to Shrimp.
The next progression is to move down to our elbow. We now use our right elbow like our right foot and our hip as our left foot. Butt Scooting on our elbows is slightly more difficult than moving on our hands but it’s still a great way to maintain mobility once we’re on our backs.
The final progression is to drop down to our right shoulder. We move our right shoulder like it’s our right foot and our hip is our left foot. We are now sh
Practice going forward and back on your right shoulder. And then practice on your left shoulder.
Shrimping is one of the most important skills in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Shrimping is basically footwork when you’re on your back.
Shrimping and hip mobility is involved in virtually every BJJ technique when you’re on your back. Every sweep, submission or back take has some degree of shrimping involved in it.
However, the most important technique in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the Technical Standup; and thus, the key strategy to fighting on your back is:
You always want to stand up!
But if you can’t; then, you’re looking to either sweep or submit your opponent.
Here, I’m sweeping my partner Stephan, with an X- Guard sweep.
And here, I’m submitting Stephan with a Triangle Choke from my Spider Guard.
In summary, if I’m fighting on my back, I always want to get back up on my feet using my Technical Stand Up.
If I can’t; then, I need to employ some sweeps and submissions.
Which leads into the most important position in BJJ…the Guard.
The Guard is essentially a sweep and submission delivery system. It allows you to fight on your back using the longest, strongest parts of your body – your legs – to control, stay safe; and eventually submit or sweep your opponent.
Here, I’m doing a Triangle Choke against my partner.
There’s many different variations of the Guard. Here are the main types of Guard that you need to know. 🤓
Closed Guard is when you have both of your legs wrapped around your partner’s waist. From the Closed Guard, I can pull my training partner in so that I’m safe from their attacks.
Also, I can look to attack with an Armbar from my Closed Guard.
Or alternatively, I can also do a Triangle Choke.
Spider Guard is when you’re using your feet and your hands to control your partner’s arms.
One of the best attacks from Spider Guard is a Triangle Choke.
Half Guard is basically when you’re only controlling half of your training partner. Notice how I’m only controlling my partner’s right leg; and thus, only his right side.
However, the Half Guard does allow me to attack their right arm with an Armbar.
Butterfly Guard is when my feet are together and my knees are out – kind of like the wings of a butterfly. 😉
From the Butterfly Guard, I can sweep my partner so I can get to a top position; or, I can use my Butterfly Guard to set up submissions.
While Guard is the main position in BJJ, there’s 5 other positions that you need to be familiar with – Turtle, Cross Side, Knee On Belly, Mount, and Back
Let’s look at these positions in greater detail.
The Basic Positions
These are the 6 basic positions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. 😃
You’re already familiar with the Guard. Being able to fight when you’re on your back is the core skill in BJJ.
When you’re on your elbows and knees and you’re making yourself into a turtle. 🤓 🐢
From Top Turtle, it’s possible to do attacks like an Armbar to your partner.
If you’re on top of your partner and you’re free from the control of their legs (Guard) you are most likely in Cross Side. Cross Side is made obvious by how your spine is perpendicular to your partner’s spine. ➕
Top Cross Side is a fantastic attacking position.
Knee On Belly
Also called Knee Mount this position is defined by your shin being across your partner’s belt line. Knee On Belly is a dominant top position that allows superior control of a strong and mobile opponent while maintaining an option either to move back to Cross Side or to move to Mount.
Knee On Belly is also a dominant position for you to attack from. Here, I’m hitting a 180 Armbar on my partner.
Mount is one of the most dominant top positions in Jiu Jitsu. From Mount, you’ll have your knees on both sides of your partner’s hips while keeping your hands free to attack your partner’s neck or arms.
A classic attack from Mount is the Armbar. Done here in multiple stages.
The Back position is probably the most offensive position in Jiu Jitsu. The Back position is defined by having your chest on your partner’s shoulder blades while keeping your feet in front of their hips. By maintaining the Back, you have many high percentage options to attack your partner’s neck and arms; whereas, your partner has very few options to attack you.
For example, here I’m attacking my partner with a choke.
Because there’s so many positions in BJJ, things can get pretty confusing.
So…Here’s a simple formula to help you understand what to do in BJJ.
The BJJ Dialogue
The BJJ Dialogue is a simple formula to decide what to do and when to do it.
It all starts off with understanding whether you’re in a good position or if you’re in a bad position.
If you’re in a good position – keep it, then attack.
If you’re in a bad position – stay safe, then escape.
But all this begins with understanding what’s a good position and what’s a bad position in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
The BJJ Dialogue is basically a conversation that starts with the question: What position am I in?
The next questions is: Is the position good or bad?
If you’re in a good position:
- Maintain the position
- And then, Attack
If you’re in a bad position:
- Defend and stay safe
- And then, Escape
Newbies typically apply the sequence of techniques wrong.
For example, when novices find themselves in Bottom Mount, they’ll immediately try to escape. By attempting to escape Bottom Mount right away without first protecting their neck or their arms they open themselves up for Armbars and Chokes.
The proper sequencing is critical: If you’re in a bad position, defend first and then attempt to escape.
Let’s take another example to help us understand the BJJ Dialogue.
Here’s a common mistake made by newbies: I’m in Bottom Cross Side and it’s a bad position; thus, I’m going to attack with a choke and maintain this position.
If you’ve been doing Jiu Jitsu for a while, you’ll see that attacking from Bottom Cross Side is clearly wrong; but, we’ve all made these kinds of mistakes before.
When you’re just starting off Jiu Jitsu, deciding what to do and when to do is tough. Consider the BJJ Dialogue as a roadmap to practicing Jiu Jitsu correctly. After some time, the BJJ Dialogue will become intuitive to you. Your responses will become habitual and your decision making will quicken and the BJJ Dialogue will become subconscious. 🤓
One Principle To Rule Them All
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is fundamentally just stick fighting!
And, in addition, human beings are just 5 sticks duct taped together 😊
Frames stop motion.
Levers amplify motion.
So how do frames and levers relate to when we’re rolling and doing Jiu Jitsu?
Above all, when we’re rolling and doing doing Jiu Jitsu:
I always want to be a set of FRAMES.
and I always want YOU to be a set of LEVERS.
In Jiu Jitsu, I’m always hunting for levers so I can control my partner…
And eventually submit them.
Jiu Jitsu is just stick fighting:
- It’s simply turning frames into levers.
- And levers into frames.
This is the most important principle in all of Jiu Jitsu and is the foundation of every technique you’ll ever learn. If you just look for the stick, you’ll be able to understand every BJJ technique right away! 😉
Homework: Prepping For Your First BJJ Class
If you’re new to BJJ; then, you’re probably a bit nervous about attending your first class. That’s okay 🤓
Here’s the secret that no one ever tells you…We all nervous for our first BJJ class!
It’s perfectly natural to be nervous doing something you’ve never done before. But you can ease your worries a little bit by doing some prep work.
Plus, you’re on to a good start just by reading this article.
But, if you want to do a little extra; then, here’s some BJJ drills you can do on your living room floor. 😃
Technical Standup (Left hand forward)
Remember, the technical standup is the most important technique in BJJ. You being able to standup from your back safely and effectively is the most critical part of Jiu Jitsu. Focus on keeping your back straight throughout this entire movement.
Technical Standup (Right hand forward)
It’s is imperative that you can do the technical standup on both sides. Like before, focus on keeping your back straight.
Alternating Technical Standups
Here’s the technical standup again; only this time, you’ll alternating your right hand forward and your left hand forward.
The Triangle Choke
The triangle choke is one of the most powerful submissions from your guard. Kick both legs up to the sky. As your legs come down, bring your foot behind your knee.
Shrimping (Right Side)
Similar to footwork for Boxing, Shrimping is just footwork when you’re on your back. You’ll use Shrimping to maintain the distance between you and your partner. Shrimping is a critical skill for Jiu Jitsu and should be practiced every class. Go two times forward; and then, two times back.
Shrimping (Left Side)
Just as before, only now on your left side. Do your best to keep your left elbow and left knee together.
Bridging is the basis for developing power when you’re on your back. Slam your toes into the floor, drive your hips up to the sky, and bring your eyes to the mat.
Backward Shoulder Roll
This is a critical movement in Jiu Jitsu. BJJ training is often called “Rolling”; and thus, being able to turn yourself into a ball, keep your elbows and your knees together, and create momentum is key to doing Jiu Jitsu.
How To Do The Shoulder Roll
Firstly, just start by rocking on your back.
Then, the next step is look over your right shoulder. Keep your knees tight to your chest. And the momentum will carry you over to your knees. 😃
Forward Shoulder Rolls
Previously, we looked at the Backwards Shoulder Roll. The exact same except you’re going forwards. Remember, keep your body like a ball, tuck your chin and keep your head off the mat. Try rolling over both your right shoulder and your left shoulder!!
Start in a kneeling position. Then, reach in-between your legs as you lift up your hips. Keep your chin to your chest; and then, you’ll roll forward into the seated position. 👍
So, What Now?
If you’re ready to get start with BJJ in Vancouver; then, our Downtown Vancouver gym offers a beginner’s program for absolute novices just like yourself!
Plus, you can get started with a $77 Introductory Month!
For $77, you get:
- One full month of unlimited BJJ group classes.
- One free private with an instructor who’ll show you all the basic BJJ techniques.
- A free Gi (uniform) that’s yours forever!
Click HERE to get started!! 😃