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Key Jiu Jitsu Moves for BJJ Beginners

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As a beginner to the world of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ), the amount of information and moves can be overwhelming. It's a sport with a decently long history that builds upon the foundations in the Japanese martial art Judo, but has largely found its own identity as a legitimate form of competition and self-defense. Becoming a master of BJJ takes years and years of training, but if you want to kick start your journey as a martial artist, take a look at some of these key Jiu Jitsu moves for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu beginners.

Relaxation While Learning

While not necessarily a move, a thing to keep in mind as a BJJ is the importance of being able to relax while training. If you train while you're tense or nervous, there's a high likelihood that you'll become over exhausted - or even injure yourself. 

The best way to focus on relaxation while training is to stop worrying about winning or losing. Odds are, you'll be in both positions quite a few times in your BJJ training. Losing can be disappointing, but you'll pick yourself back up and climb to the top. Victory is fleeting, and it's a sure thing that someone will overtake you eventually.

Focus on the sport and the benefits it adds your lives rather than the desire to win. There's nothing wrong with a competitive spirit, but don't let that be the main focus.

Bridging and Shrimping

This drill focuses on two key exercises and a foundation of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practice. Learning how to "bridge" and "shrimp" is important for increasing your ability to get out of precarious situations as well as generally increasing your mobility while you're down on the ground. Learning how to protect yourself and scooch away effectively is a skill that you'll practice repeatedly throughout your BJJ career, so it makes sense to get started on it now. Check out the video below for a solo bridging and shrimping exercise you can practice at home.

Grip Strength, Efficiency, and Location

Grappling in BJJ means you'll have to grab hold of your opponent, and focusing on your ability to grip effectively is a big part of becoming a great fighter.

First, you'll want to make sure you continue to develop your hand strength. This will come naturally, but you can also develop it through extra activities that work your hands like rock climbing or specific exercises. Check out this great article from Nerd Fitness on how to improve your grip strength.

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Get A Grip: How to Improve Your Hand Strength And Wrist Mobility | Nerd Fitness

In today's article, we're going to outline a number of helpful, handy (sigh) stretches and exercises to help eliminate pain and build you some powerful, useful hands.

Like, Fists of Fury. Or…hands of Fury? Wrists of Fury?

Equally important to grip strength is the efficiency of your grip. It's important that you learn how to moderate how you spend your energy. Even the strongest fighter will tire pretty quickly if you're always grabbing your opponent at maximum strength. This nuanced skill will come through practice, but you can practice gripping something like a piece of hanging cloth and seeing what the "sweet spot" is between strength and endurance.

Lastly, you're going to want to know where to grip. In the heat of a fight, you don't want to be scrambling to find an effective hold - you want it to be second nature. 

Check out the video below to learn a little more about the three aspects of grip strength.

Escaping Side Mount

As a beginner, learning how to escape from a grapple is going to be a key part of your toolkit for quite a long time. It may sound lame, but as a new fighter you're going to face opponents that are more experienced and skilled, so building a foundation of escape skills is an important aspect of training that will serve you for years to come.

Escaping a Side Mount uses technique that makes use of the bridging and shrimping we talked about above, but it's all about the timing. First of all, protect your neck to avoid a choke-out situation, and then bridge and shrimp at the right time to escape from a messy situation. 

Take a look at the video guide below to learn how to escape a side mount.

Learn more about Jiu Jitsu Escapes here. 

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Escapes - The Most Important Jiu JItsu Moves of All

Most bjj practitioners focus their energy on sweeps and submissions, but learning to defend against bad positions and get out of danger is more important.

Standing Guard Pass

Learning how to break through an opponent's defenses is a key part of becoming an efficient BJJ fighter. A "standing guard pass" is a technique to open up a downed opponent to further attack, and focuses on breaking through the protection of their legs. It's a little difficult to describe in text, so take a look at this video below on the exact technique you'll want to follow. (Skip to 5:20 to get right into the action, but the video in its entirety is a good resource.)  

Straight Armlock From Guard

This is a rather complex movement, but if you can master it you're well on your way to advancing towards harder moves. It makes sense to wrap up the article with a submission sequence, so you know how to grapple your foes down effectively and score yourself a win!

The Straight Armlock From Guard can bring you from defense to an attack, and is a versatile move that is worth mastering.

Take a look at the video below for specifics on a few armlock techniques.

Practice Makes Perfect

Okay...so practice might not make you perfect but it's the only way you're going to become a more skilled practitioner of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. You'll notice a lot of the moves on this list are defensive, and that's because you're generally going to find yourself struggling out of submissions as you start your journey. As you become more comfortable with escaping, you can move onto some fancier intermediate techniques that will put you on the offensive. Master these skills, and you'll be well on your way to becoming a capable fighter.

 

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