What Are The Key Moves Of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was first invented during the 1920 by four brothers who trained under a Japanese judo practitioner called Mitsuyo Maeda.

This martial art still shares many things in common with Judo, such as its focus on groundwork, and many of the common moves. 

What Are The Key Moves of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?

However, there are notable differences as well, such as the inclusion of moves such as kicks and strikes.

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (or BJJ) is a great martial art for learning some basic self-defense, but it is also a very fun competitive sport.

It aims to allow smaller individuals to overpower those who are much larger using their flexibility and speed. 

If you are interested in taking up Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but don’t know where to start, then this guide is for you. We will be taking a look at some of the fundamental BJJ moves and how to perform them. 

The Shrimp 

This will often be one of the first BJJ techniques you learn, and its primary function is to act as a means of escape when your opponent has you locked in a hold. 

For this move, you start by lying down flat on the ground with your legs straight and your arms pulled in. Raise one knee, so the foot is planted firmly on the mat, this will act as the driving knee.

Pushing your bent leg straight, you should aim to move into a horizontal position where you are lying on your side. 

Your butt should be where your shoulder was originally. This is one of the most basic escape maneuvers for getting out of your opponent’s top control. 

Double Leg Takedown 

Naturally, all BJJ fights will begin with both contestants standing up. As such, you need a way to bring your opponent onto the ground, so they can be subdued.

The double leg takedown is one of the easiest ways of achieving this. 

For this move, you should start in a basic stance with one foot forwards and the other back with both heels roughly in line. Lean forward towards your opponent with your arms out towards them, ready to grab or defend. 

To do a double take down, you need to get down low, and bend your back knee, so you can spring forward.

Spring off your back foot onto your front knee so that both your arms can wrap around your opponent’s legs. You want each arm to go all the way around its respective leg, so you can hold your opponents by their inner thighs. 

You should be on your front knee, with your back foot going out to the side, making contact with the mat.

Move your back foot around your opponent and plant it on the mat, so you can pivot and throw your opponent off balance.

When done correctly, this is a fast and effective means of getting your opponents to the ground. 

Closed Guard

Once you have your opponents on the ground, or they have you on the ground, you are likely to experience the necessity of a guard.

The closed guard in BJJ indicates a position where you are on the ground with your opponents kneeling over you in a position where they can attack. 

To form a closed guard, you need to wrap your legs around your opponent’s waist or lower back. Lock your heels together to prevent them from easily escaping your guard.

You can also form a closed guard by wrapping your legs over your opponent’s shoulders and around their neck. 

From this position you can break your opponent’s posture down, to prevent them attacking and hopefully maneuver yourself into a better position.

One of the best ways to break your opponent’s posture is to grab their sleeve with one hand and grab their collar with the other (Find out How To Fix A Stretched Collar here).

Pulling with both your arms and your legs, you can bring your opponent much closer to you, so they are less able to attack. 


This is one of the simplest submissions students can learn in BJJ, but it is also one of the most versatile as well.

The reason for this is that Kimura is easy to apply, and once you have done so, you can use it as an anchor to follow whatever movement your opponent tries next. 

You can perform this move from a closed guard, and your first move will be to get your opponents hands on the ground.

If you are lying on the mat, with your opponent grabbing your robe, you can arch your back and use your arms to push your opponent’s hands onto the mat.

Pull your opponent closer with you, using your legs to weaken their grip on you, so their hands end up on the mat. 

Grip your opponent’s arm right where their forearm meets their wrist, as this is the most secure place to grip their arm, so they can’t easily release it.

When you grab their wrist, lock your arm out, so it is completely straight. 

Next, you want to release the guard being maintained by your legs and shift your weight onto your hip, so you can partially sit up onto your elbow.

This will allow you to wrap your free arm around the arm you are grabbing with your other hand. 

Wrap your free arm around the arm you are locking so that you can grab your own wrist. When you do this, remove your thumb from the grip you have over your opponent’s grip.

This creates what is known as a figure four grip. To finish, fall back down to the mat and keep your opponent’s arm at a 90° angle until they submit. 


These are just four of the basic moves that are commonly used in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Learning them will be difficult without a proper teacher, however, they make some of the most basic ways of getting your opponent onto the ground.

They also cover simple escape methods for getting out of trouble once you are also on the ground. 

Christopher Anderson
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