BJJ Terms Every Student Needs to Know for Jiu-Jitsu

Woman practices a defensive BJJ technique at Gracie Barra


Excel in your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fitness training in Ashburn, VA

Getting started with a new martial arts studio in Ashburn can be tough – especially with a niche like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) that has its own special terminology! Our school welcomes students of all levels and is proud to provide resources for anyone who wants to learn more about BJJ or live Jiu-Jitsu. Here are a few basic terms new students can learn even before their first class to get better results right from the start:

Base: A person’s center of gravity. A strong base means that you have a low center of gravity with your back straight, head up and wide knees. This stance gives people good balance.

Bridge: This move is most often done to “buck off” an opponent in the mount position. In order to perform a bridge, lay on your back with your feet planted on the mat as close to your butt as possible. From there, push off the mat with your legs to elevate your hips and spine. When this move is done correctly, only the toes and tops of the shoulder should be left touching the mat.

Gi: Your Gi is your BJJ uniform. No-Gi days simply mean that you may wear a rash guard and athletic shorts or pants instead of your uniform.

Guard: This is a position where you can either attack or defend. “Playing guard” refers to any position where you attempt to control your opponent using your ankles, knees or hips so they do not advance. This is typically paired with a grip to hold them in place.

Hooks: Hooks refer to the top player’s legs when they are in back control. If your instructor shouts, “hooks!” during a roll, you should wrap your legs around your opponent’s torso and push out their thighs with the top part of your foot. This move controls the rotation of the bottom player’s hips as they try to escape.

Mount: Mounting an opponent involves sitting on their torso with your knees (or one foot and one knee) on the ground facing the opponent’s head.

Roll: This refers to the act of sparring, or grappling, with another Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu student. This term was coined because of the rolling motion created by experienced BJJ students as they move on the mat.

Shrimp/Hip Escape: Shrimping allows a player to quickly move their hips away from an opponent. In order to successfully complete this move, you must first lay on your side on the mat. In one swift motion, lift your hips off the mat using your foot and shoulder. You can then scoot your hips backward by straightening your legs. This creates space between you and your opponent and could be used to affect your opponent’s balance.

Submission: The goal of each match is to get your opponent to submit. This is achieved when one opponent forces another to tap out.

Sweep: A sweep is an attack that puts someone in a weak position into a more dominant position. This move allows a person to roll their opponent into a more neutral position.

Tapping Out: Refers to the act of submitting to an opponent. Tapping out can be done by tapping the mat three times, tapping your opponent three times or by yelling, “tap!” Tapping out with a foot or your hand are both acceptable. Be sure you tap out in a way that it is noticeable by your opponent – and stop immediately if an opponent taps out in response to your attack. In training, tapping out simply means you can begin a new roll. In competition, tapping out would end the match.

Turtle: This is a defensive position that involves tucking in your arms, legs and head to resemble a turtle hiding in its shell.

A big part of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu involves understanding the terminology your instructor will use in class. This will be especially helpful while rolling with opponents. Instructors use these phrases to help deliver feedback quickly and efficiently without taking up much time. As you progress and learn more in class, you will pick up on things much faster. Don’t wait to begin – claim a free BJJ class right here in Ashburn to get started.