BJJ for Beginners

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu For Beginners

Disclaimer – I’m still a beginner myself

I’ve been training in all things MMA for approaching a decade now.  I don’t claim to be anything other than very average (especially considering the time I’ve spent training) but here are some tips that I think would help any beginner:


– Learn to escape mount, side control and Back Mount
This should be the bread and butter, and in an ideal situation, just escapes from the bottom would be drilled for the first month or so.   It’s no good learning low-percentage/occurrence techniques that look fancy, if your fcuked as soon as you end up on bottom.

For escaping mount – make sure you have some kind of ‘hip escape’ – moving onto your hip, pushing on his hip, and bringing your knee up to escape to guard and a ‘bridging’ escape.

This might help with a hip escape from mount:


For side control escapes – think about getting “inside space” with your hands, and using hip movement and bridging to make space to pull guard or get to your knees.
T-Rex your hands (keep your elbows tight to your body) and don’t be tempted to push away your opponent all the time, as this will give him underhooks and overhooks galore.



– Learn to maintain/ control top position in Mount and Side Control
Once you know how to escape these positions, learn how to make it harder for others.
Mount – grapevine the legs; then looks to move up to a high mount with your knees under your opponent’s shoulders
Side control – learn to “cross-face” the opponent, with your shoulder, and learn to switch your hips so that your are on your own hip, like a judo scarf hold.  This makes it difficult to pull guard.


– Learn to defend a guillotine, arm triangle, triangle and arm bar
Basic, but very common and very effective submissions.
Defend the guillotine (done with your opponent’s right arm) by:
– pulling down on one of right wrist/hand with your left hand
– take your right hand and place it on his back – wrap your arm behind his head and push your shoulder into his face
– straighten your legs so you end up in a pike position, with your legs straight, bum in the air, and head down
– walk/circle towards the right to put extra pressure on the opponent’s face

– Arm triangle – “answer the phone” – put your trapped hand onto your ear, and push on the elbow of your trapped arm with your free hand
– Triangle – use good posture —> still stuck? take your trapped arm and reach backwards and grap your shorts/gi —> still stuck?  as a last ditch attempt fall backwards and put your feet in his face (like Chael tried to do against Anderson Silva)

Here’s a video of a similar guillotine defense:


Again – once you have learnt to defend and escape these techniques, you need to learn them yourself.  Learning the principles of the technique, is often the best way to understand the escapes anyway.  Here’s M.G. showing off his guillotines:

 Guard Fundamentals
Learn 1 or 2 basic techniques from closed guard.
I like the chest to chest sweep, but other people adopt the triangle quickly, and can pull it off easily with only a few weeks of training.

The chest 2 chest sweep is shown in this video at 49 seconds:

When you are in guard, overhook an arm, and grab the back of your opponent’s head with your other hand.  As he frees himself and begins to posture up, follow him up by pushing on your elbow, then hand and pushing one foot into the floor.

Remember, you can also break your opponent’s posture by bringing your knees towards your head and pulling him forwards. See if you can catch him in an arm triangle or kimura

Learn 2 Good Guard Passes
Standing ones seem to work best, be wary of sweeps.
Make sure you have good posture.

Grip fighting
Especially important for Gi – BJJ

Search Google and Youtube for “BJJ grip breaks” and “judo grip breaks”

Always aim to have “2 points of control” in any position, except perhaps when your mounted or on bottom in side control.
An example of this would be control of a sleeve and a gi-collar, or control of a foot/heel and a sleeve when looking to sweep someone standing in your guard

Learn 2 basic takedowns
Double leg takedown from standing and knees is awesome, as is “running the pipe”


Work on Flexibility, grip strength, lowerback and neck strength
Fitness is also a big thing, but should get gradually better the more you roll.
Core in general is also a big thing, and your ability to do explosive hip extensions.

Here is a good article on hip mobility  – it’s a pretty obvious thing to say, but yoga is also great for flexibilty.  Use a foam roller and a lacrosse ball and stretch after every session too.


Drilling fundamental movements, like bridges and shrimps can be a good way to develop functional core strength

Rope climbing is great for grip strength.  Remember to work your wrist extensors too though, with reverse bicep curls, and stretch your wrists out aftewards.

Good lower back and neck strength with help prevent you from being broken down in guard when your posture up.
Deadlifts are great for lower back strength, but also massively taxing on the CNS, and may interfere with your BJJ training.  Try dorsal raises and some drills on maintaining posture in guard whilst your partner tries to pull on your neck and arms to make your drop back down


Tap Quick & Often
Steve Maxwell a 62 year old BJJ black belt states in a Jo Rogan podcast that this is crucial if you want to train for a life time.
Anything that cranks the neck in training; I would tap.
Anything on the ankle or foot be very careful of too.
Armbars – just tap as soon as you feel your arm straighten.
Chokes aren’t too bad, even if you pass out, you won’t be actually injured

I hope this quick list of techniques and ideas has helped.  One last thing I’d recommend, is buying and consuming a lot of fish oil to help with your aching joints.  “EPA” is supposed to be the element with the most effective anti-inflammatory properties. You can buy it off amazon. Good luck with your training!

Keep Hygiene as a Priority

Staph infections are a problem with BJJ, especially in no-gi. Ensure that you shower as soon as possible after training, and if possible use a alcohol sanitiser for areas which contact the mat and other people. Don’t ignore nail infections either, invest in a nail fungus treatment immediately if necessary. The same goes for any suspected staph infections, get them treated ASAP as they can cause long term problems if left unchecked.


Some good Youtube Channels to check out:

Stephan Kesting


Jason Scully

Written by

Drew Griffiths

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