5 Difficult Concepts For BJJ Beginners To Grasp




5 Difficult Concepts For BJJ Beginners To Grasp


BJJ is a mass of concepts, techniques, strategies and positions, but there are some key techniques that are pretty tough to get a hold of (and keep hold of when rolling) when you first start.


1. Don’t roll over.


The first time I rolled after having been doing BJJ for 45 minutes total, I found myself trying to barrel roll to escape a side control or a mount. Almost every time I did, it ended up with me gifting the guy my back. I got rear naked choked time and time again. It took a blue belt I was sparring with to tell me to stop trying to roll out, be more patient, and not to panic. My instinct was to roll away, but after a few classes I’ve stopped myself from doing it and am working on sweeps and escapes instead.


2. Protecting my arms when in someone’s guard.


Another recurring problem I faced (and am still facing), was when I was in someone’s guard I wanted to grab hold of their gi or arms, but my posture was not correct. I was too close to them, so when I grabbed their lapel, I found myself in triangles and armbars often. My instructor saw me doing this and showed me how easy it was to put on a triangle when the person sticks their arm out thoughtlessly when in your guard. I’m now working on keeping better posture while in my opponent’s guard, and being more careful with where I put my arms to try avoid some of those easy triangles and armbars.


3. Going on offense way too early.


You practice a new choke or lock, and want to get to it as soon as you have a barely semi-dominant position. I was going for lapel chokes and armbars when I had barely got halfway through a pass, and couldn’t land them obviously. Even worse, I ended up compromising my defense completely by not thinking about where my weight and limbs were. I’m not there yet, but have been trying to ensure that I worry more about position and control, rather than going full out for a lock or choke and ending up getting tapped needlessly.


4. Push and pulling.


A guy has me in side-control, and to get him off me, I’m pushing him this way and pulling him the other. Two minutes later he still has me in side-control and I’m f-ing exhausted and my grips are half numb. I wasn’t getting anywhere by simply applying force with zero leverage or understanding, but at the time I didn’t know what else to do. I still don’t have a good idea how to get someone off me easily, but I’m learning to wait and think and move, not just push and pull until I can’t breathe.


5. Thinking a tap means I’m good.


The first session, I managed to get someone slightly more experienced to tap with a forced guillotine. It wasn’t clean a clean choke at all. It was not technical and it barely worked. But I took it as a sign that I could push through and force submissions. It worked occasionally, but almost every time I roll, it’s an endless rhythm of me tapping that damn mat. I make sure now (4 classes in) that I remember that pretty much everyone there, weaker or less athletic, can play with me with impunity. It keeps me grounded in a way I think is very important for being accepted to the group.




This article was written by Joe Thorpe. You can check out his new BJJ Blog here.


If you would like to share your BJJ ideas, thoughts or stories shoot us a message on Facebook or Twitter.


How To Pass A Complicated Guard (Or Any Guard For That Matter)



(Photo courtesy of William Burkhardt of BJJpix.com)



How to Pass a Complicated Guard

by Julius Park


Modern Jiu-Jitsu has been increasing in complexity, especially in the guard work. The latest innovations are focused primarily around lapel grips, which have (temporarily) confounded the BJJ community.


Like anything complicated, we have to “chunk” the material down into smaller, more manageable pieces.


Guard Passing is actually three stages:


  • Unwinding / Grip Breaking
  • Clearing the Legs
  • Securing the Dominant Position


Unwinding / Grip Breaking


Jiu-Jitsu students frequently ask:


How do I pass the ________ Guard?

(a) De La Riva

(b) Reverse De La Riva

(c) Spider Guard

(d) Lasso Guard

(e) Deep Half Guard

(f) Worm Guard



This is a somewhat inaccurate question. What students are actually asking is “How do I break the grips that are on me?


By grips, I mean feet & legs as well as hands & arms.


Each guard is defined by a particular set of grips and grip sequences. The process of removing your opponent’s grips and getting your grips is what I refer to as unwinding.


The first unwind you ever learned was probably from the top of guard . Your instructor probably told you to remove your opponent’s hand from your collar before starting to open the guard. If you don’t remove the collar grip, you give your opponent more opportunities to attack as well as defend the later stages of guard passing. This same cause and effect relates to other “more advanced” guard positions.


Clearing the Legs


The actual clearing of the legs are the techniques most commonly referred to as guard passing.


Knee Cut
Double-Under / Stacking
Leg Drag
Long Step, etc.


But as everyone knows – its probably easier to hold a pissed off cat than an upper belt whose legs you’ve just cleared.


Which brings us to part 3.


Example of Clearing the Legs & Securing Dominant Position



A very different approach to Clearing the Legs


World champion Aarae Alexander vs World Champion Tye Murphy. #worlds2015 #ibjjf #JiuJitsu #rolypoly A video posted by Crazy 88 MMA (@crazy88mma) on




Securing the Dominant Position


As a Blue Belt, I distinctly remember how hard I thought it was to hold a person down after the pass. They would ALWAYS turtle. I could clear the legs but it was so difficult and energy consuming to hold the person down or to actually get the back.


These are fundamental movements that are used after you’ve cleared the legs, but the individual is still resisting the pass. For the competitors, this is the step when done wrong, you end up with an advantage but not any points.


To do this well, you must train back takes as well as dominant top position transitions such as side-mount, mount, knee-on-belly, etc. Don’t limit yourself by only choosing to take the back or only trying to secure side-mount. You often will not get a choice as to how your opponent reacts once you clear his legs – some will turn in, some will turn out, some will lead with legs, some will lead with arms.


Successful Leg Clearing with Failed Securing Dominant Position


Notice that Guard Passer has to Remove the Collar Grip Before Initiating The Leg Clear


Joey from third law passing the guard in the Purple Belt Open. #ibjjf #Neoprene

A video posted by Crazy 88 MMA (@crazy88mma) on


A Video about Securing Dominant Positions via Side Switch



Additional Tips on Guard Passing


Certain guards are responses to particular guard-passing systems. For example, worm guard is primarily a response to a knee-cut or bull-fight passer. You’ll be able to avoid a lot of that guard’s strengths by passing a different way i.e. passing from the knees.


Be able to pass to both sides


Don’t be reactionary unless you are forced to be. You should have the jump on your opponent as the top man since they have to pull into a guard. They should be forced into the 2nd stage of guard pass (defending your leg clearing) rather than you being pulled into stage 1 (unwinding their grips).


Thank you very much for reading! I hope that this article helps you in your Jiu-Jitsu journey!


About Julius Park: I am a Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt. I’ve produced BJJ World Champions from Blue Belt up to Brown Belt. My next goal is to get a student to the Black Belt World Champion level and into the UFC. I have an English Bulldog, Ghostface, who has so far resisted all training methods. I teach out of Crazy 88 Mixed Martial Arts gyms in the Baltimore area.



Julius Park


Crazy 88 Mixed Martial Arts can be found on the Web, Facebook and Twitter.


Easy Takedown For White Belts Who Don’t Want To Pull Guard




Easy Takedown For White Belts Who Don’t Want To Pull Guard


Another great video our friend Nick “Chewjitsu” Albin!


Oftentimes white belts will resort to pulling guard in competition out of fear of not having takedown experience. This takedown is low impact and easy to perform. Enjoy!


“I got a question on my blog recently asking about a solid takedown for a white belt with no prior wrestling or judo experience. In the video I share an effective takedown that I show to many of my new students. I’ve seen this technique work numerous times for my students and even myself in competition. It’s simple, effective and even if you haven’t wrestled a ton, is pretty easy to implement into the game.” – Chewjitsu



Stay in touch with Nick by visiting the links below!




More New Videos To Help You Escape Side Control




More New Videos To Help You Escape Side Control


Side control can be one of the most arduous situations to deal with as a BJJ white belt. If you are tired of being smashed for minutes on end, you are going to love these videos below!


Get out your notebooks because you will not want to forget any of these details. Thanks to Professors Adem Redzovic and James “300” Foster for these valuable insights.










If you want even more techniques to escape side control check out this article here.


I hope that you enjoyed this post and good luck on your BJJ journey!


How To Master Jiu-Jitsu – The 2 Most Important Aspects Of Training – Firas Zahabi




How To Master Jiu-Jitsu – The 2 Most Important Aspects Of Training – Firas Zahabi


If you like a good ol’ fashioned Jiu-Jitsu philosophical discussion then you are going to love this video. Tristar gym coach Firas Zahabi has been on a tear lately with fantastic BJJ instructionals and tutorials. Firas is widely known as the coach and friend of MMA legend Georges St-Pierre.



Firas studies under John Danaher. Check out this amazing brand new video from BJJ hacks featuring the great coach of great coaches.



How To Properly Wash Your Jiu Jitsu Gi




How To Properly Wash Your Jiu Jitsu Gi


The Jiu Jitsu Gi. Oh how we adore you. You are an extension of us and are symbolically representative of us. We take you into war on a daily basis. You are the weapon that our opponents use against us; you wear my weapon, and I, wear yours. Ironic is our relationship, yet we love you so.


We all love our BJJ Gi’s and we all hope that we can make them last as long as possible. It is not only important to properly care for your Gi to make it last for many years, but the proper care of your Gi will also prevent you from being the loathed “stinky person” to roll with.


Here are some helpful hints written by my teammate Nic C. followed by some supplemental videos on how to keep your Gi in pristine condition!


Cleaning Gi’s with vinegar and baking soda.


When you get home throw everything you sweat in into the washing machine, including your compression shorts/rash guard/cup/jock.


Throw in 1 -1.5 cups of distilled white vinegar, make sure you get your collar, arm pit, crotch areas on your Gi.


Depending on your washing machine: pre-soak or rinse without spinning in the vinegar + warm water. Let it sit and drain. (If I get home at 10pm I’ll let the vinegar work until i get up in the morning)


Then, add a cup of baking soda to the load and a small amount of detergent. (Too much detergent that doesn’t get rinsed out is what collects additional funk.)


Wash heavy with warm water. Use the second rinse if your machine has it.


If your gi is still a little funky, repeat the process. If it starts out the worst thing ever, seriously soak it in the vinegar. If you don’t want to do this whole process every time, do it every third wash and wash it heavy with Tide Sport in between, but again, don’t use too much detergent and rinse an extra time. Get vinegar and baking soda from a price club if you can. I get huge things of baking soda for pool maintenance for under $10, and the vinegar is equally cheap. If you get a brand new Gi, washing it in vinegar first will help set the color better.


If you have any questions just ask, or Google how to refresh old dingy cotton towels.






Dealing With Larger Opponents In Jiu Jitsu




Dealing With Larger Opponents In Jiu Jitsu


The first time I ever did an Open division was when I was Purple Belt. I had won the Lightweight division and was facing the Heavyweight division champion. As the match began, joy filled my heart when my opponent pulled guard. I jumped over his guard almost immediately and my sense of elation grew. Wow. I’m so much faster than this guy. This is going to be easier than I thought.


This feeling was replaced by horror as he reached over my back, and pulled me over him, onto the bottom of side mount. At this point, the match became blurry. I must have gotten out of the side mount at one point, because I remember he jumped flying mount on me, and I recall thinking “holy s***, this guy is heavy” when I couldn’t shrimp out. The match ended a few seconds later with me getting submitted via armbar.


“Overcoming The Bench Press”


When I debriefed with my coach, I mentioned that I felt really demoralized after passing my opponent’s guard only to get rolled over with a ‘wrong’ technique.


He compared my situation during the match with the analogy of a 135lb bench press. Most adults can bench press 135lbs. But no one can bench press 135 for 7 minutes non stop (the length of a purple belt match). So mindset wise, you have to think of forcing your opponent to bench press you off each time and remember that with each rep, he is getting weaker.


“[Avoid] Harpooning the Whale”


The other analogy I like to use is that of harpooning a whale. The fishermen shoot a harpoon into the beast. The harpoon is attached to a barrel that can be dragged under the water. As the whale dives underwater, the added buoyancy fatigues him, eventually allowing the fisherman to complete the catch.


Same concept with a shark…



Don’t get stuck to your bigger opponent like a barrel!


After you pass, you have to “float” the guy until the right time. You have to disengage and make the bigger slower guy have to chase. Don’t clamp down and pin him until the moment is exactly right.


Here’s an example of the type of movement necessary for floating.



Passing the Guard…


When you say someone is bigger, you have to take into account both height and weight. A heavier shorter guy poses a different set of problems than a heavier taller guy.


Taller Guys are generally better at defending outside rotational passes. You have to stay close and try to control the inside space or the hips.


On Shorter Heavier Guys, techniques that move on the outside of the person will be more effective than head-on techniques.


From the Bottom…


Protect the Inside Space and force Outside attacks.


When the guard opens, you must protect the inside space so your leg doesn’t get pushed down right away. You should open while maintaining good pressure between your knees and turning your hips to the side. In other words, your opponent’s core should always be pinched between your legs. You should not absorb his pressure as a thigh-master.




It’s often hard for beginners to learn how to defend the inside space with just their arms, which is why the closed guard (most often taught as the refuge against bigger and stronger guys) is hard for beginners to master.


Secondly, you will probably will find it easier to attack on the outside. Think Omoplatas, De La Riva, and spinning to the back, etc. All these positions keep you from being directly under your larger opponent.


High Knee-Shields and Spider Guards are good for when the person is on their knees. You have less movement to worry about since the opponent is on their knees. So your primary concern is to always maintain the right distance between yourself and your partner.


Long Term – Develop Takedowns!!!


For competitors, winning the open becomes much easier if you have good takedown ability. Not just because you can take your opponent down but because you maintain the ability to fatigue your opponent on the feet.


Example – Tye Murphy, one of the coaches here at Crazy 88, came in with zero takedown training – no wrestling, no judo. At the Blue Belt level, we would use a strategy of gripping for the first half of the match to burn out the big guys. Quite often, these big guys would switch gears and pull guard (sloppily) as they started to fatigue. As his judo and wrestling improved, Tye could now fight pure takedown matches, keeping his larger opponents out of their preferred position – top.


Specific wrestling and judo techniques also work better or worse against bigger opponents. Kouchi-gari and Stickers will be easier for you to execute earlier than Uchimata’s. Single Legs will generally be easier to get on larger opponent than Power Doubles.


So anyway, that’s my short primer on dealing with larger opponents. Hope that helps.


About Julius Park: I am a Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt. I’ve produced BJJ World Champions from Blue Belt up to Brown Belt. My next goal is to get a student to the Black Belt World Champion level and into the UFC. I have an English Bulldog, Ghostface, who has so far resisted all training methods. I teach out of Crazy 88 Mixed Martial Arts gyms in the Baltimore area.



Julius Park


Crazy 88 Mixed Martial Arts can be found on the Web, Facebook and Twitter.


How (And Why) To Tape Your Fingers For Jiu Jitsu




How (And Why) To Tape Your Fingers For Jiu Jitsu


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the most fun thing in many of our lives. That fun can sometimes become associated with some pain and injury. That is simply the price that we all willingly pay on a daily basis.


Most common finger injuries can be treated with athletic tape so that you can continue rolling. A significant amount of these injuries can be prevented with a little bit of instruction.


Preventative finger taping can save you many months of pain. When your fingers are taped properly they can also give you some extra grip strength.


There are many reasons as to why someone should tape their fingers for Jiu Jitsu. Firstly, do you want your hands to look like the Miyao Brothers?




Finger injuries can take many months to heal. Our hands are as intrinsic to BJJ as our grips are. They are of tremendous import.


Check out some of the taping techniques in the videos below and let us know what you think!






I hope that this post helps you in your BJJ journey and saves you some finger wear and tear!