Step onto the mats of a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) academy, and you’ll quickly realize that it’s more than just a physical activity; it’s a language of its own. With a rich tapestry of terminology and lingo, BJJ practitioners communicate not just through movements and submissions but also through a unique vocabulary that reflects the art’s complexity and depth.
We’ll take a journey into the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, unraveling the mysterious language that echoes through the dojo. Whether you’re a curious newcomer eager to understand what your training partners are saying or a seasoned practitioner looking to deepen your understanding, this guide will serve as your compass through the sea of BJJ terms.
From positions and submissions to the etiquette that governs the mats, we’ll explore the key terms that make up the lexicon of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. So, tighten your belt and get ready to delve into the linguistic nuances of this martial art, where words like “guard,” “sweep,” and “omoplata” hold the keys to unlocking the intricacies of ground-based combat.
Jiu-Jitsu Terms and Lingo
- Gi: The traditional uniform worn in BJJ training and competition.
- No-Gi: Refers to training or competing without the traditional gi, typically in rash guards and grappling shorts.
- Armbar – Locking the elbow joint of an opponent’s arm often hyperextending.
- Back Mount or Rear Mount – This is a position where a student has control of another student from the back (i.e. a student is face down with another student straddling his back).
- Break Fall – A technique to “break your fall” when thrown or falling by slapping your arm on the ground and properly positioning your body.
- Bridge – A technique use to “buck” off or dislodge an opponent who is in the mount position.
- Closed Guard – When you are on your back and you have your legs wrapped around your opponent’s back & your feet are locked together.
- De La Riva Guard: A specific type of guard where one leg is entangled with the opponent’s leg.
- Gi Choke – Where you use your Gi (uniform) or your opponent’s Gi to perform a choking technique.
- Gracie Family – The Gracie family is well known for being some of the main developers and early promoters of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
- Guard: A defensive position where a practitioner on their back uses their legs and often arms to control and neutralize an opponent.
- Kimura: A shoulder-locking submission named after the judoka Masahiko Kimura.
- Half Guard: A defensive position where you are on your back. One of your feet is on the inside of an opponent’s leg and the other is on the outside. From this position, many students will try to move to a guard position.
- Mount: Achieving a dominant position by straddling an opponent, often with knees on the ground and full control.
- Neck Crank: A technique where a BJJ student pulls on or twists an opponent’s head in order to create neck/spinal pain. Banned from most competitions.
- Omoplata: using your legs to scissor and lock your opponent’s arm against your hip, while applying pressure to their shoulder joint
- Oss: A term commonly used as a sign of respect, acknowledgment, or agreement among BJJ practitioners.
- Pass – Transitioning from one position to another (i.e. “passing” or getting around an opponent’s guard position in order to gain control).
- Rolling: Sparring or live training with a training partner.
- Side Control: Controlling an opponent from the side, usually with chest-to-chest contact.
- Submission – Where a student forces another student to submit (give up) through a choke, arm bar, etc.
- Sweep: Reversing a disadvantaged position, often from the guard, to gain a more advantageous one
- Take The Back – To maneuver into position to achieve a back mount (or rear mount).
- Tap Out or Tapping – A BJJ student indicates his submission by tapping on the ground or on his opponent.
- Turtle Position: A defensive position where a practitioner is on their hands and knees, protecting themselves..
- Triangle Choke: A submission hold where the legs form a triangle around the opponent’s neck.