What Is BJJ? (Quick Beginner’s Guide)

BJJ stands for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It is a martial art and combat sport that is based on the principles of fighting on the ground, grappling, and submission holds.

BJJ is a focused skill that targets taking an opponent onto the ground and gaining the dominant position so that you can force them into submission with joint locks and choke holds.

What Is BJJ

First developed in the early 20th century by Brazilian brothers, it is heavily inspired by one of the brother’s traditional judo training, and a lot of the same elements of traditional Japanese Kodokan Judo and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu are seen within the sport.

BJJ is its separate category of combative martial arts through many different adaptations, innovative moves, and different practices.

What Is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

BJJ is now an essential martial art component in what we now know as MMA. With worldwide bodies setting global standards in terms of rules and regulations to be held up by the sport, BJJ is practiced around the world.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is based on the idea that a weaker, or smaller person can protect themselves successfully against a heavier or taller competitor by bringing the fight down to the mat.

As a predominantly ground-based martial art, the central themes are controlling your point of leverage and securing yourself so that you can destabilize your opponent.

The main skill that must be learned is how to turn an opponent’s weight against them, focussing on grappling and forcing an opponent into submission.

To control and overcome a greater-sized opponent is the key concept to get behind here.

Unlike so many other sports where aggression and force are touted as the most important factors, BJJ focuses on building up your skills of leverage and grip so that you can control the movements of your opponent and destabilize them.

Basic Moves In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Whilst there is an infinite amount of moves that you can learn from BJJ, it can seem incredibly overwhelming at first.

With so many techniques and variations to get to grips with, it can be hard to see that the majority of them all stem from a few basic moves.

Once you have a better understanding of these basic moves, you can increase your skill set and continue on your self-development journey through BJJ.

Below are a few of the basic movies you can use for both attacking and defending:


Shrimping is a fundamental move for grappling, which is a huge part of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. To shrimp, you must push your body across the mat driving your hips away in a v formation.

You then turn yourself on your side during contact with your opponent and use your body’s natural gravitation to anchor you onto the mat, giving yourself space to maneuver and set up space for sweeps.


Bridging is another standard action that centers around raising your hips off the mat.

Bridging is most typically seen in pullbacks from mounting and flank power, but the forward movement of the hips is also used in assorted submission and passing attacks.


This move helps you to release from a grapple safely, without giving the upper hand to an opponent.

Use the posts of your opposing leg and arm to ground yourself on the mat whilst using your free hand to protect from strikes and your free leg to bring back under your body.

Forward And Back Roll

Performed in training for many reasons, forward and back rolls are fundamental to BJJ fighting. The key element is learning how to safely tuck in your neck so you can swiftly roll without injuring yourself.

What Is The Difference Between Japanese Jiu-Jitsu and BJJ?

What Is BJJ

Traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu dates back to as early as 780 AD. It is one of the oldest martial arts and was used as a way for the samurai to defend themselves against larger, heavily armed attackers by using their weight against them.

Jiu-Jitsu grew in popularity during the late 17th and 18th centuries, focussing on grappling and hand-to-hand combat.

Jigoro Karo modified the art of Jiu-Jitsu in the late 1800s to focus more heavily on throws and submissions. This new school of training was then called Kodokan Judo and is the foundation of what we now know today as Judo.

After the popularity of Judo exploded, some Judo experts traveled the world to open up schools.

One such master named Mitsuyo Maeda, also known as Conde Koma was a prizefighter who traveled to Brazil to teach Judo.

Carlos Gracie was exposed to martial arts in Brazil and eventually taught his younger brother Helio, who both adapted the sport, focussing primarily on groundwork techniques and grappling.

When they started their gym BJJ was born. It was only in 1993 when Helio’s son Royce Gracie won in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), entering and defeating three different fighters coming with boxing, wrestling, and savate.

After this worldwide attention BJJ is now a foundational martial art that is known all over and is used by mixed martial artists across the globe.

Both have very different sets of rules and a different system of progression as well.

Final Thoughts

BJJ is a fascinating form of martial art that has stood the test of time and is loved across the globe.

Not only is it one of the most powerful ways of fighting, it still holds to the ethos that you do not have to be the heaviest or the strongest to defeat your opponent.

This is integral to the message of BJJ of being able to defend oneself even if you feel helpless and vulnerable in your size.

Carlos Gracie, the founder of BJJ was passionate in his teaching about connecting the body to the mind, and purporting health and wellness as another way to enrich the spirit.

Though as a modern audience, we may see only the UFC side of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, there is also a spiritual side that uplifts those who practice the sport and humbles those who use it on the mat.

Christopher Anderson
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