Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or BJJ for short,, is a martial art, combat sport system that focuses on grappling and especially ground fighting.

BJJ promotes the concept that a smaller, weaker person can successfully defend against a bigger, stronger, heavier assailant by using proper technique, leverage, and most notably, taking the fight to the ground, and then applying joint-locks and chokeholds to defeat the opponent. BJJ training can be used for sport grappling tournaments and in self-defense situations. Sparring (commonly referred to as rolling) and live drilling play a major role in training, and a premium is placed on performance, especially in competition, in relation to progress and ascension through its ranking system.


BJJ is most strongly differentiated from other martial arts by its greater emphasis on ground fighting. Commonly, striking-based styles spend almost no time on groundwork. Even other grappling martial arts tend to spend much more time on the standing phase. It is helpful to contrast its rules with kodokan judo's greater emphasis on throws, due to both its radically different point-scoring system, and the absence of most of the judo rules that cause the competitors to have to recommence in a standing position. This has led to greater time dedicated to training on the ground similar to that of Kosen Judo, resulting in enhancement and new research of groundwork techniques by BJJ practitioners.

Along with BJJ's strengths on the ground comes its relative underemphasis of standing techniques, such as striking. To remedy this comparative lack, there is an emphasis on take-downs and cross-training between BJJ, Pro Wrestling, Judo, and Sambo Wrestling, as well as striking based arts such as Boxing, Karate, Tae Kwon Do, Muay Thai, and Kickboxing.

Primary Ground Positions

  • Side control: In side control, the practitioner pins his opponent to the ground from the side of his body. The dominant grappler lies across the opponent with weight applied to the opponent's chest. The opponent may be further controlled by pressure on either side of the shoulders and hips from the practitioner's elbows, shoulders, and knees. A wide variety of submissions are initiated from side control. It is also referred to as the side mount. Additionally, the typical side mount increases opportunity for the dominant grappler to advance to a more dominant and less used type of side control known as the mounted crucifix position. In this position, the dominant grappler has his body at the very top of the opponent's torso, one arm controlled between both of the top grappler's arms, and the other arm trapped between the legs. This position is most used in MMA as it allows the dominant fighter to strike whilst taking away their opponents defence. Submission options are limited however and so this position is rarely used in BJJ competition.
  • Full mount: In the mount position, the practitioner sits astride the opponent's chest, controlling the opponent with his bodyweight and hips. In the strongest form of this position, the practitioner works his knees into the opponent's arm pits to reduce arm movements and ability to move or counter the submission attempts. Full Mount can be used to apply armlocks or chokes.
  • Back mount: When using the back mount (often known in Brazilian jiu-jitsu as the back grab or attacking the back), the practitioner attaches to the back of the opponent by wrapping his legs around and hooking the opponent's thighs with his heels or locking in a body triangle by crossing one shin across the waist like a belt then placing the back of the opposing knee over the instep as if finishing a triangle choke. Simultaneously, the upper body is controlled by wrapping the arms around the chest or neck of the opponent. This position is often used to apply chokeholds, and counters much of the benefit an opponent may have from greater size or strength.
  • Guards: In the Guard, the practitioner is on his back controlling an opponent with his legs. The practitioner pushes and pulls with the legs or feet to upset the balance and limit the movements of his opponent. This position comes into play often when an opponent manages to place the practitioner upon his back and the practitioner seeks the best position possible to launch counter-attacks. This is a very versatile position from which the BJJ practitioner can attempt to sweep (reverse) the opponent, get back to the feet, or apply a variety of joint locks as well as various chokes.


The majority of submission holds can be grouped into two broad categories: joint locks and chokes. Joint locks typically involve isolating an opponent's limb and creating a lever with the body position which will force the joint to move past its normal range of motion. Pressure is increased in a controlled manner and released if the opponent cannot escape the hold and signals defeat by submitting. Opponents can indicate submission verbally or they can "tap out" by tapping the opponent or the mat. (Tapping one's own body is dangerous because the opponent may not be able to tell if his or her opponent is tapping.) A choke hold, by disrupting the blood supply to the brain, can cause unconsciousness if the opponent does not submit soon enough.

A less common type of submission hold is a compression lock, where the muscle of an opponent is compressed against a hard, large bone (commonly the shin or wrist), causing significant pain to the opponent. These types of locks are not usually allowed in competition due to the high risk of tearing muscle tissue. This type of lock often also hyper-extends the joint in the opposite direction, pulling it apart.

  • Joint locks: While many joint locks are permitted, most competitions ban or restrict some or all joint locks involving the knees, ankles, and spine. The reason for this is that the angles of manipulation required to cause pain are nearly the same as those that would cause serious injury. Joint locks that require a twisting motion of the knee (called twisting knee locks or twisting knee bars, or techniques such as heel hooks, and toe holds) are usually banned in competitions because successfully completing the move nearly always results in permanent damage that requires surgery. Similarly, joint manipulations of the spine are typically barred due to the inherent danger of crushing or mis-aligning cervical vertebrae. Leglocks are allowed in varying degrees depending on skill level, with the most prominent BJJ tournaments typically allowing only the straight ankle lock and muscle stretching submissions such as the banana split at white through purple belt, with the kneebar, toehold, and calf slicer submissions being permitted at brown and black belt. Most competitions do not allow heel hooks, which are considered to be exceptionally dangerous to competitors. However, most joint locks involving the wrist, elbow, shoulder or ankle are permitted as there is a great deal more flexibility in those joints and those locks are safe to use under tournament conditions. Joint locks include Armbars, Kimuras, Americanas, straight-arm lock, Omoplata, and other shoulder locks. Also, some fighters practice moves whose sole purpose is to inflict pain upon their opponent, in the hope that they will tap out. This includes driving knuckles into pressure points, holding their opponent's head in order to tire out the neck (called the "can opener" or kubi-hishigi) and putting body weight on top of the sternum, floating ribs, or similarly sensitive bones. These moves are not true submission moves; they are generally only used as distractions mostly in lower levels of competition. They are avoided or aggressively countered in middle to upper levels of competition.
  • Chokes and strangles: Chokes and strangles (commonly referred to as "air chokes" and "blood chokes") are common forms of submission. In BJJ, the chokes that are used put pressure on the carotid arteries, and may also apply pressure to the nerve baroreceptors in the neck. This kind of choke is very fast acting (if done properly) with victims typically losing consciousness in around 3–5 seconds. In contrast, an air choke (involving constriction of the windpipe) can take up to two minutes, depending on how long the person can hold their breath, and may cause serious damage to the throat.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.