BJJ

The 77 Most Common Mistakes in BJJ – Part 3

By November 14, 2022No Comments
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    The 77 Most Common Mistakes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu – Part 1


    BJJ MISTAKE 34- Omoplata: Not Sitting Up

    When doing the omoplata from Guard, many people stay on their backs when they get their foot in front of their training partner’s faces. This is wrong.

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    When you remain lying back on your shoulder blades, it is easy for your training partner to cartwheel over you for an escape or for your training partner to posture up and pull their arm out.

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    You need to sit up as soon you get your foot in front of your training partner’s face. Sit up and straighten your legs and bring your arm around his back.

    Sitting up with your legs out straight will break his posture. Typically his head will go directly into the mat. This is good for you since your training partner retaining his posture in the Guard is almost always a bad thing for you.

    Keep your head up, and his head down to the mat, when executing the Omoplata and it will be much harder for him to escape.

    BJJ MISTAKE 35- Hand Stand Sweep: Not Placing the Hip to the Leg

    When executing the Hand Stand Sweep from the Guard, many people try to put their hip against their training partner’s hip. This is wrong.

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    If you are hooking your training partner’s left leg with your right arm, you want to bring your hip up and drive into his left leg with your hip. This movement feels strange because you are moving your hip at an angle, but it is the only way that the sweep will work.

    BJJ MISTAKE 36- Hook Sweep from Spider Guard: Disconnected Movements

    When executing the Hook Sweep from Spider Guard, many people grab the ankle and then hook the knee with their foot. If you do the Sweep in this manner, it probably won’t work.

    You need to grab the ankle and hook the knee in one, single, simultaneous movement.

BJJ MISTAKE 37- Sickle Sweep from Spider Guard: Disconnected Movements

When people try to go for the Sickle Sweep from the Spider Guard, they’ll put the foot on their training partner’s hip, then grab his ankle with their hand, and then chop his calf with their heel and do it as 3 segregated movements.

This is wrong and you will probably end up with an unsuccessful sweep attempt.

The correct way to execute the sweep is to do all 3 movements in a single, coordinated manner.

BJJ MISTAKE 38- Butterfly Guard: Feet Not Glued to Legs

Often when people play the Butterfly Guard, they’ll keep their feet on the mat and think that their knees and shins will keep them safe from the Guard Pass.

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This is foolhardy and most people will find themselves in bottom cross side very quickly.

The correct way to use your feet is to have them glued to your training partner’s legs.

At least one foot is touching your training partner’s legs at all times. This does take awareness, sensitivity and practice, but it will make your Butterfly Guard much more difficult to pass.

BJJ MISTAKE 39- Butterfly Guard Sweep: Poor Foot Position

When attempting a Butterfly Guard Sweep, many people will keep both feet glued to the inside of their training partner’s legs.

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Although this is a good tactic initially, one foot needs to be placed on the mat to help apply leverage for the sweep as the other foot lifts your training partner up for the sweep.

The foot that is placed on the mat has to be in a very specific spot: just outside of your training partner’s knee.

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The moment you go for the sweep, if you have both your feet in between your training partner’s legs, you need to bring your right foot underneath your left knee so that it will rest against the outside of your training partner’s right knee.

BJJ MISTAKE 40- Butterfly Guard Sweep: Only Using One Leg to Sweep

Many people see the Butterfly Guard Sweep as a sweep done with one leg.

They’ll keep one leg on the mat and the other leg elevates their opponent; but, if their opponent has good balance and tries to defend the sweep, then the sweep is quickly nullified.

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What you need to do is think of the Butterfly Guard Sweep as a 2 legged sweep – one leg elevates your training partner and the second leg drives aggressively into the mat. Doing the sweep this way is far more effective.

BJJ MISTAKE 41- Guillotine: Not Shrugging Your Shoulder

Whenever you do a Guillotine from the Guard, you need to shrug your shoulder so that your shoulder is over your training partners neck.

A common mistake is to have your shoulders back and have your chest proud when going for the Guillotine. If you do this, then your training partner’s head will pop out and he’ll easily escape the choke.

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Bring your shoulder forward, hunch your back, and get heavy on your training partner’s neck. Try and bring your hands to your shoulder to squeeze his neck and stretch him out with your guard.

BJJ MISTAKE 42- Guillotine: Not Using the Wrist

A common mistake with the Guillotine occurs when people apply the choke with the large meaty portion of their forearm close to the elbow.

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This may work, but you’ll be using far too much strength to get the tap. Instead, slide the elbow back – not out, as this will create space and your training partner may be able to pop his head out. Clap tight along his ear like you are sandwiching his head between your elbow and your rib cage.

Bring your wrist – the part of your forearm where your wristwatch would sit – and pull that portion of your arm into his neck

Using your wrist to apply the Guillotine will allow you to apply force to your training partner’s neck more directly. There’s too much padding at the base of your forearm; and thus, force will not be transmitted directly into his trachea.

BJJ MISTAKE 43- Arm Drag from Butterfly Guard: Foot Too Close

In the starting position for the Arm Drag from the Butterfly Guard, both your feet are in between your training partner’s knees.

As they start to execute the Arm Drag, many people will remember to bring their foot to the outside of their training partner’s knee, but often the foot is too close to the knee.

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The problem with this is if your training partner resists the Arm Drag and tries to drive forward in defense (a typical response) then you’ll wind up on your back and fighting from Half Guard. Although this is not a horrible position (you still can be very offensive), it is not the strong top position or the strong back position you were originally striving for.

As well, with your foot too close to his knee, it is very difficult to reach your training partners far arm to ensure the back position.

The key is to bring your foot out far away from your training partner. With your foot far back, you can drive up and foreword and attain the back position much easier.

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Furthermore, if you training partner defends the Arm Drag, with your foot out, you’ll be able to drive into him for a sweep and take a top position.

BJJ MISTAKE 44- Top Cross Side: Belly Button Off the Mat

Many people have their center of gravity too high when they are maintaining Top Cross Side.

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Their belly button is up off the mat and sometimes they’ll have their belly button directly on top of their training partner.

This is a mistake. It is too easy for you to get swept over.

You need to try and bring your belly button to the mat.

Now I understand that this may not always be possible, especially if you are holding Top Cross Side on your knees. The idea is to have your center of gravity (for most men, their center of gravity lies right around their belly button) not directly on top of their training partner, but instead, on the mat next to their training partner.

Having your belly button on the mat will give you more control over your training partner and it will prevent him from trying to sweep you.

BJJ MISTAKE 45- Half Guard: Forgetting to Prevent the Cross Face and Failing to Get the Underhook

A common problem is that when people are fighting from the Half Guard, they forget to defend against the Cross Face and they forget to fight for the Under Hook.

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The Cross Face and the Under Hook are what the person on top wants.

If the person on top has these two things, then it is much easier for him to Pass your Half Guard and it also prevents most of your attacks from the Bottom.

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When you are fighting from the Half Guard, always prevent the Cross Face and always fight to get the Under Hook.

BJJ MISTAKE 46- Top Half Guard: Forgetting to Get the Cross Face and to Get the Under Hook.

When you are fighting from Top Half Guard (some people may see this position as Half Mount), it is vital that you control your training partner with a strong Cross Face and that you establish an Under Hook.

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Many people fighting from Top Half Guard forget about these two key elements. Without the Cross Face and without the Under Hook, your training partner on the bottom can easily sweep you, get your back or submit you.

If you are fighting from Top Half Guard, always fight for an Under Hook and always Cross Face your training partner.

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BJJ MISTAKE 47- Half Guard Pass: Hips Not High Up Enough

A simple yet effective Pass for the Half Guard is to control the person on the bottom with a Cross Face and an Under Hook and then raise your hips to the sky, as high as possible.

Doing so will completely straighten both your legs and make it very difficult for the person on the bottom to control you with their Half Guard.

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From here you can slide your knee to mount or cross side.

The most common mistake when executing this Guard Pass is not bringing the hips up high enough. Many people will bring their hips up off the mat; but, the idea is to have your hips so high that your legs are practically vertical. When the legs are vertical, then it is easy to slide your leg out from his Half Guard.

BJJ MISTAKE 48- Half Guard Pass: Not Bringing the Foot to the Hip

A common way to pass the Half Guard is to control your training partner with a Cross Face and an Under Hook, and then bring the foot of the leg that is being controlled by your training partner’s Half Guard up close to his hip.

When you have your foot close to your training partner’s hip, the knee of the leg that is being controlled by his Half Guard will be pointing to the sky.

Because your knee is so high, it becomes very difficult to maintain a strong Half Guard.

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From here, simply push his knee off of your knee and slide into Top Mount.

The problem occurs when you do not bring the foot close enough to the hip.

Many people will bring their foot close to the hip and thus pop their knee up; but, they’ll have trouble pushing their training partner’s knee off of their leg. This is because their foot is not close enough to their training partner’s hips and their knee is not up high to the sky

Bring your foot as close to your training partner’s hip and the Guard Pass will be far more successful.

BJJ MISTAKE 49- Half Guard Bridge: Forgetting to the Trap Leg

Bridging from Bottom Half Guard is a fantastic way to sweep your opponent or to simply throw him off balance him for a split moment to set up your attacks or to dislodge his control of your neck or torso.

The problem is that many people fail to trap their training partner’s leg as they bridge and the man on top gets a free pass to mount or top cross side.

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It is important to trap his leg with your shin as you bridge from Bottom Half Guard.

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This, of course, means that you are only bridging with one leg and you’ll have less explosiveness, but the additional safety measure is far more valuable than that little bit of extra power.

MISTAKE 50- Anaconda Choke: Forgetting to Pull Half Guard for the Finish

When going for the Anaconda Choke (aka. Brabo Choke, Darce Choke) many people fail to recognize the importance of putting their training partner in Half Guard.

The counter to the Anaconda Choke is to roll to Four Point (roll to your knees), control and possibly break their grip.

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To stay with the person even if they roll, and to amplify the squeezing power of your choke, pull the person into your Half Guard.

MISTAKE 51- Arm Bar: Forgetting to Squeeze the Knees

Many people forget to squeeze their knees as the go for the Armbar.

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You need to squeeze your knees to control your training partner’s upper arm so that his elbow does not escape. No elbow, no Armbar.

As well, if you do not squeeze your knees, his upper arm will go directly into your groin, a painful way to get an Armbar.

If you squeeze your knees, your Armbar will be more effective.

MISTAKE 52- Hitchhiker Armbar Escape: Not Controlling the Foot

When you execute the Hitchhiker Armbar Escape, you need to control the foot of the leg that is over your head, otherwise you will wind up in an Omoplata.

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Many people fail to control the foot as they do the Hitch Hiker Escape and they fall victim to their training partner’s secondary attack.

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The main problem stems from the fact that many people do not know that the counter to the Hitch Hiker Escape is the Omoplata; so, guys will succeed with the Hitch Hiker Escape many times without recognizing the danger until they get caught when they wrestle with someone who is craftier.

MISTAKE 53- Knee on Belly: Foot on Mat

Many BJJ practitioners put their foot on the mat as they maintain Knee on Belly Position. This is a mistake.

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The proper way to maintain Knee on Belly is to keep your shin across your training partner’s belt line and the other leg out stretched. The foot of the shin that lies across your training partner’s belt line is up off the ground.

If the foot is on the mat, then too much weight will go into the floor and not enough weight will go onto your opponent; therefore, he will be able to escape easier and he will not be as encumbered by the inherently painful bottom Knee on Belly Position.

MISTAKE 54- Bottom Cross Side Shrimping: Not Bringing Your Elbows and Your Knees Together

Many people forget to bring their elbows and their knees together when they are trying to stay safe on the Bottom and they are Shrimping to escape an inferior position.

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If you are on the Bottom and you no longer have a Guard Position, then try and keep your elbows and knees together.

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Whether you are in Bottom Cross Side, Bottom Mount, even if someone is on your back, touching your elbows to your knees will limit your training partner’s control over you; and thus, will prevent most of his attacks.

So when you are Shrimping and trying to escape, bring your elbows to your knees.

MISTAKE 55- Bottom Mount Guard Replacement: Not Turning Into Him

The most common mistake that people make when they attempt to replace their Guard from Bottom Mount is when they fail to turn into their opponent.

When you start to replace your Guard from Bottom Mount, you will typically start in a Half Butterfly Guard Position with one hook inside his knee. From here you’ll be able to get Half Guard, but unfortunately many people stay onto their side once they get their Half Guard back so that they are looking away from their opponent and thus it leaves them open to having their back taken.

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The correct thing to do is to get one hook in and work from Half Butterfly Guard. Pick the person up and try to sweep them with your Butterfly Guard Hook. If you sweep him, great. If not, then drop him into your Half Guard.

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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