“What are the Basics of Jiu Jitsu? Part 1/3”

A lot of people in Jiu Jitsu say that the secret to getting good fast is to stick to the basics and dedicate most of your time practising these movements. Now what is often not talked about is what actually constitutes as the basics in Jiu Jitsu? What movements, principles and techniques should a student be focusing on to maximise their training time and efficiency?

I am sure there are a lot of different ideas as to what the basics are, however I will endeavour to give you a brief run down on what I feel all students should really spend a lot of time focusing on. In Part 1 of this series we will begin with essential Movement skills. 


As far as essential movements go I think hands down, the number one movement that ALL students of Jiu Jitsu need to develop is great Hip Movement/mobility. The best way to develop this hip mobility is through mastery of the basic “Hips Escape” sometimes also referred to as “Snake Move” or “Shrimping”. The “Hips Escape” is the foundation of almost all movement from the Guard and it is also the foundation of developing solid escapes from underneath bad positions such as the Mount, Side Control, The Back, Knee Ride etc. The “Hips Escape” basically teaches you how to move your body through lateral, horizontal and even sometimes a vertical plane. The “Hips Escape” is an essential core movement that connects you with the ground and teaches you how to move using your legs. Extending off the “Hips Escape” is the ability to turn to your knees or come to your stomach. This is usually taught as an extension of the “Hips Escape” and often a last ditch effort in preventing your Guard from being Passed.

Another fundamental movement that needs to be developed is the “Technical Stand Up” or “Gracie Get Up” as it is sometimes referred too. “Technical Stand Up” is the method taught on how to safely and effectively stand up from a downed position with good balance, posture and the ability to defend yourself should the need arise. “Technical Stand Up” is also key component in developing the ability to complete various Sweeps and Reversals in Jiu Jitsu. Understanding and mastering “Technical Stand Up” teaches the student many of the basic principles of Jiu Jitsu such as “Base”, “Posture” and “Balance” as well as “How to Protect Yourself from Harm”( all of which will be covered in the Part 2 of this article) as well as developing coordination, “Connection” and “Mat Sense”. In a sense “Technical Stand Up” is really just another extension of the “Hips Escape” movement mentioned earlier!

The next important series of movements that need to be practised and mastered is that of “Rolls” and “Break falls”. Now developing the ability to “Break fall” may be self explanatory especially due to the nature of Jiu Jitsu being a grappling based art which relies on us either taking our opponent to the ground or us being taken down or thrown and developing the ability to recover and fight back from an inferior position without suffering too much damage in the process! Learning how to “Break fall” is the art of controlling your landing and dispersing the impact upon contact with the ground as well as protecting vital areas such as your head and neck! It is important to learn how to “Break fall” so we are able to protect ourselves should we trip or be thrown to the floor. In addition to this learning how to “Break fall” serves another purpose and that is allowing us to safely train and develop our throwing techniques without risk of seriously injuring ourselves or our training partners thus developing our skills for a potential real life self defence situation or sports competition. The other skill required to develop is the ability to “Roll” and again disperse the impact of a throw or sweep. Learning to do basic “Rolls” teaches us a kin-aesthetic awareness of our own body and how to control it! Developing the ability to “Roll” safely will protect us from injury and goes hand in hand with developing the ability to “Break fall”. If you are unable to control your own body you will have trouble learning to control another person’s movement. Some of the key safety measures used in both “Rolls” and “Break falls” are tucking your chin/head to prevent injury by hitting the ground during the “Break fall” or “Roll”. Another attribute developed is the ability to relax and go with the energy of the movement and absorb and disperse the force of the impact. And finally developing the ability to “Roll” teaches us how to protect ourselves in another way and that is to “Roll” out of potential submissions to escape and recover position!

OK that just about covers the first part to this series on “What are the Basics of Jiu Jitsu”, stay tuned for the following parts in the next day or 2 and have a safe and Happy Easter!

Good Luck with Your Training and Happy Rolling!

Felipe Grez

Jiu Jitsu Kingdom



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