The Most Common Techniques in BJJ Unpacked

4 min read
Unlock the seemingly complex nature of Jiu-Jitsu with this breakdown of the foundational techniques that are the building blocks of the martial art

mikey musumeci after training

The Most Common Techniques in BJJ Unpacked

Unlock the seemingly complex nature of Jiu-Jitsu with this breakdown of the foundational techniques that are the building blocks of the martial art

Location: London, UK.

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Photo by: mikeymusumeci

To the outsider, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) may seem complex to understand and intimidating to do. With a focus around fighting on the ground, often off your back, combined with submissions and pins, without a proper understanding of the technique and goals each person is trying to achieve, it can seem like a maze.

Even for those that do BJJ, the sheer amount of techniques available can seem overwhelming and complex to understand. But are there certain techniques and positions that come up more often than not that can help us better understand the flow of BJJ more fully? Well, let’s take a look.

THE Guard

One of the most common techniques in BJJ is the guard. The guard is a position in which the practitioner lies on their back with their opponent between their legs. Whenever you think “guard” in BJJ, think “legs” between you and your opponent to prevent the dominant grappler from gaining control of his opponent’s upper body. 

This can look like many things, such as wrapped around their opponent’s waist or positioned on their hips. From these positions, the practitioner can use their legs to control their opponent’s movement and set up various submissions, such as chokes and joint locks, as well as sweeps, where they can off-balance their opponent and put them on the ground whilst coming on top into a more dominant position. The guard is by far and away the most common position in BJJ and, to some extent, one of the areas that make BJJ unique in its practice. Seen initially as a defensive position, the guard, when done correctly, can be highly offensive, meaning that even when playing defense, you are still a high threat to your opponent.

THE Takedown

Another essential technique in BJJ is the takedown. Takedowns are used to bring an opponent to the ground, where the practitioner can then work to gain a dominant position. Different from a sweep in that both parties start standing, the similarity is that in the end, the person who initiated the move ends up on top. Some common takedowns in BJJ include the single-leg takedowndouble-leg takedown, and hip throw. Once on the ground, practitioners can use various techniques to pass their opponent’s guard and gain a more dominant position. Some common guard passes include the over-under pass, the knee slice pass, and the stand-up pass.

BJJ Submissions

One of BJJ’s key aspects is using submissions to defeat an opponent. Submissions are techniques that force an opponent to tap out, signaling that they are unable to continue the fight. Submissions in BJJ include the rear naked choke, the arm bar, and the triangle choketo name a few. As a beginner, these are the most common submissions you will likely learn to kick off your grappling game plan.

In addition to these techniques, BJJ practitioners also train in various types of positional sparring, in which they work to gain and maintain dominant positions against an opponent. This helps them to develop a sense of timing and distance, as well as to practice setting up and executing various techniques. Whilst not always starting from a pin position, it’s typically to find people starting with one at an advantage and the other at a slight disadvantage. When working pins, you’ll most likely find that side control and mount are the positions of choice.


BJJ training is typically done in a Gi, a traditional uniform similar to a karate or judo uniform. However, it can also be done in no-gi, in which practitioners wear shorts and a rash guard rather than a Gi. No-gi BJJ often has a faster pace and places a greater emphasis on control through the use of grips on the opponent’s clothing or skin. The difference between these two variants does mean that certain techniques can be seen more in one over the other, like, for example, the trend in No-Gi to move past side control in search of the back or mount.

THE best martial art… BJJ

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is an immensely challenging and rewarding martial art that can help you develop strength, flexibility, and confidence. Whether you are interested in competing or simply want to learn self-defense skills, BJJ has something to offer practitioners of all levels and goals. Whilst one of the appeals to many is the vast amount of techniques available, it’s important to remember that a firm grasp of the fundamentals is the priority so that you can build off of a strong base.



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