brazilian jiu jitsu for beginners

Jiu Jitsu for Beginners

Jiu Jitsu is a complex art of skill and strength. At first it can seem so overwhelming that we want to give up. Our goals to be strong and fit, or to know how to fight just don’t seem worth it. It doesn’t have to be this way. You see most of the energy we spend in the beginning is wasted. We struggle to master points that don’t matter while missing the most powerful movements. If we can save that energy and direct it to learning the high value moves we can be successful early on in our practice.

Once we understand how to be successful we have the key to something unique. Imagine yourself strong, confident and able to defend those you love for your entire life. Those are the stakes. This is a life changer. So let’s learn how to get past the breakpoint of being overwhelmed in the beginning…

Jiu Jitsu for Beginners Survival Guide: The three important steps.

Step one.

Do not strain against your partner/opponent when you are training. Ever. No matter how close the tap out is, if you have to strain for it then let it go. No matter how much you want to escape, if you have to strain against them then let it go. You see you can either use brute force or skill and awareness. You can’t use both. No matter how strong you become, you will never beat a legit purple belt or above with brute force. So, it’s a short sighted dead-end. Brute force is also the cause of most Jiu Jitsu injuries. The injuries tend to come from your use of brute force, not from your partner. That should be enough to lock this message in. If you are straining, let it go and move somewhere else or tap out. Read more about flow here.

Step two.

Don’t worry about most moves. Basic mastery of a move happens after doing it about 2000 times. Let that sink in. So, if you are just doing the moves of the day 10 – 20 times then it’s going to be a long struggle before things start to make sense. The classes are essential for getting experience. Becoming aware of the many ways the body can move. Later on, they help you find the tools you need to evolve you Jiu Jitsu game. (Your “Game” is your approach to fighting with Jiu Jitsu, everyone’s game is unique) That said, most of your effort will go into step three.

Step three.

Master these core movements.

The Shrimp


This movement teaches you to use leverage to create space. You will use it every single time you are pinned. If you cannot shrimp well you cannot escape a good pin. Practice these three variants. Shrimping to guard, shrimping to roll, and shrimping to knees.

Each one gets 2000 reps. Most of the reps should be done with a partner but some can be shadow drilled or done on a dummy.


Cross Choke


These are the essential submissions. The can be found from almost any position in Jiu Jitsu. They combine well so setting up one also lets you threaten the others. They are submissions that if they fail, still leave you in a strong control position. After you have drilled each one 1000 times alone then do them in two move combinations. For example, attack with the cross choke, your partner counters, follow up by attacking their counter with the arm bar. This kind of training will help you develop your sense of flow and connection between moves.

Jiu Jitsu for Beginners Survival Guide: Quick Reference

Jiu jitsu school in Portland95% of reps should be co-operative, meaning your partner is feeding you the right energy to make the move work. Give the right feed but still make your partner complete the move. Throw the occasional attempt to counter in there to make things interesting and test your progress with the move.

2000 Shrimps to Guard
2000 Shrimps to Rolll
2000 Shrimps to Knees

2 hours of drilling a week = 1-2 months depending on pace.

1000 Armbars from Guard
1000 Cross Chokes from Guard
1000 Kimuras from Guard

3000 total combos

Cross Choke to Armbar
Cross Choke to Kimura
Kimura to Cross Choke
Arm Bar to Cross Choke

2 Hours of drilling a week = Approx 6 months.

We focus on the Guard for this guide. After you have completed the training plan then start looking for the same moves and combos from every other position.

Keep a high pace when drilling, 100-200 reps per hour on submissions. 200-300 reps per hour on Shrimp Drills

Jiu Jitsu for Beginners Survival Guide: Final Tips

Avoid the demoralizing experience of sparring until you understand what is going on. That will be around Blue Belt level. Until then you’ll be having fun growing and developing your skill by drilling and playing for position. Playing for position is where you are trying to hold or escape a control position.

Do Not Strain

Stay relaxed during class and try to get as much experience as you can.

Watch videos of Black Belts rolling. From day one, do your best to move like they do.

Have Fun!

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