“Crossing Over” – Applying Your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in MMA!

I often get asked if I think Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is still as effective in modern-day MMA as it was in the early days. My answer to this is always “Without a doubt”! I mean Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gives you the tools to deal with a wild and aggressive opponent hell-bent on knocking you out in an MMA fight. It gives you options like:

 – the ability to unsettle your opponent

– draw him out of his game (i.e. Not press the attack for fear of being taken down)

– or fight more cautiously in an attempt to avoid the Submission

 If trained correctly, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu teaches you how to tie up with your opponent to minimise the risk of taking serious damage both on the way in and after establishing the clinch. It gives you the tools to take your opponent down to the ground, establish a dominant position and control him. And while not as many fights appear to end in submissions as they may have used to, that doesn’t take anything away from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s extreme effectiveness in MMA competition!

 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu teaches more than just a random series of Armlocks and Chokes from dominant positions. It teaches you patience, control (both of yourself and your opponent), it teaches you about strategy and the correct application of tactics on how to overcome any opponent! It gives you a framework of reference to keep you moving towards victory in a fight, hopefully submission or KO! The basic offensive strategy in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for MMA is:

 To Enter the Clinch Safely (Without absorbing Major Damage)

  1. To Control The Clinch and Nullify your Opponent’s Offense
  2. To Take Your Opponent Down to the Mat, Limit his options both offensively and defensively and keep him down.
  3. To Establish Control of Your Opponent and Achieve a Dominant Position
  4. To Improve Your Position (Expending Minimum Energy while your Opponent Struggles helplessly and tires) and land some strikes if the opportunity becomes safely available.
  5. To Guide Your Opponent Towards Checkmate or an Indefensible Position (i.e. a position in which you have sealed off your opponent’s escapes and his only options expose him to further danger be it a submission or devastating Ground & Pound)
  6. All this while making sure to put your self in a good, safe position relative to your opponent so that he is unable to do any serious damage to you with strikes or submissions.

 This is just one example of a basic Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Strategy applied for an MMA fight. Now please realise, all Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is not equal! What do I mean by that? Well to put it simply, if your school spend most of their time training how to jump/pull guard, flow straight into Spider Guard or Reverse De La Riva Guard  and look for the sweep and score some points then you are going to have some problems in MMA. Now that’s not to say there is anything wrong with the previous techniques or strategies just that they have a time and a place. Pulling guard, playing Spider Guard or Reverse De La Riva Guard are valid Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques, they just fit better in the realm of Sports Jiu Jitsu competition. On a side note training these skill does help build coordination, agility and mobility all of which are beneficial to a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner’s development!


 Your choice of tools must be suitable for the job and generally speaking you don’t want to be on bottom in an MMA fight or have too much separation between you and your opponent when playing Guard due to the inherent risk of strikes! Again given the choice most Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters would much prefer to achieve the top position, make their opponent carry their weight, strike a little and set up their submissions in an MMA fight. The Guard in MMA is usually reserved for when your opponent takes you down, reverses you and puts you on the bottom or you are unable to take your opponent down and choose to tactically shoot and pull Guard when your opponent sprawls just to bring him into your game!

 Now while I will not attempt to tell you the “correct” techniques/ positions to use in MMA, as frankly there is no such thing as a perfect technique/position that will work every time. What I will tell you is that the best way to help your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills cross over to MMA is seek the advice of experienced Mixed Martial Arts Trainers/Fighters and ask them what they feel is important for survival in the cage/ring. MMA is different to pure Brazilian Jiu Jitsu so do your best to find out what the core basic skills are for an MMA fight and develop your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu game around them.


5 Keys To Success For Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Practitioners in MMA:

 Don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Seek guidance of those who have gone before you and become successful in MMA!

  1. Don’t try and reinvent the wheel. Seek guidance of those who have gone before you and become successful in MMA!
  2. Train with an open mind! You can learn something of value from everyone regardless of their style, affiliation etc Train with as wide a variety of training partners as possible!
  3. Become a Student of The Game! Learn about MMA, understand the game and what it takes to be successful
  4. Get in Great Physical Condition! If you tire in the cage it is your fault, strength and conditioning can be worked on even when you don’t have training partners and loads of equipment! Develop the ability to explode and recover as well as push the pace in scrambles!
  5. You must Train and Spar in Multiple Disciplines/Ranges, preferably two at a time to minimise the risk of injury while building MMA timing! When training your Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for MMA, make sure your partners add in Strikes so that you develop a realistic idea of which Brazilian Jiu Jitsu techniques and positions work for you under the MMA conditions! Spar Boxing with Freestyle Wrestling takedowns and shots so that you develop the ability to strike effectively while avoiding the takedown or how to takedown a striking opponent! Spar Muay Thai and mix in Greco-Roman style Clinch takedowns and Dirty Boxing. This will help you develop skills and timing throughout the ranges while minimising the risk of injury and not overloading your senses too much at first!

Good Luck With Your Training And Happy Rolling!

Felipe Grez

Jiu Jitsu Kingdom



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