Jiu-Jitsu Moves & BJJ Submissions
Updated: Oct 7
When it comes to learning basic Jiu Jitsu moves as a BJJ beginner, you might feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of BJJ techniques and submissions you must learn to avoid.
Often, BJJ academy curricula does not teach Jiu jitsu submissions for beginners from the attacking standpoint in terms of the BJJ moves. While you will learn BJJ submissions as a beginner, the focus for Jiu-Jitsu white belts is avoiding and defending submissions, as opposed to finishing them.
In this article, we break down the list of BJJ submissions to avoid getting tapped out with as BJJ beginner through the following framework:
Understanding which BJJ submission positions to avoid
Dodging BJJ submissions before they are locked in
Defense and escape options while in a Jiu-Jitsu submission
By the time you’re done reading, you will have a good grasp of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu moves to focus on in your beginner BJJ classes.
Here we go!
Jiu-Jitsu Triangle Choke from Full Guard
When it comes to JiuJitsu chokes, there are many different submissions available.
The JiuJitsu triangle choke is a classic BJJ move that your opponent can throw at you from the top or bottom position when playing guard.
While advanced BJJ practitioners can lock in a Jiu Jitsu triangle choke from a variety of positions, the most commonly applied triangle occurs from the Jiu-Jitsu closed-guard position, at the moment you attempt to pass your opponent’s guard.
While passing guard, Jiu Jitsu awareness is an absolute must. Executing BJJ techniques during guard transitions requires your full mental and physical focus.
To hit the triangle Jiu Jitsu choke, your opponent must get their legs around your arm and neck such that you end up with one arm in and one arm out when you are inside their locked-up triangle.
Avoiding this BJJ move often boils down to simply not letting your opponent get a one arm in position. As such, when passing guard, Jiu Jitsu technique requires you to have both arms either above your opponents thighs or underhooking both legs such as during a double-under guard pass.
If your opponent manages to secure the triangle position, quickly posture up and keep your opponent from breaking you down. This pressures their triangle lock while giving you space to escape.
Jiu-Jitsu Armbar from Mount
Joint locks are another class of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu moves opponents will attempt to throw at you. The Jiu Jitsu armbar is one of the basic Jiu Jitsu moves included in classes teaching Jiu Jitsu submissions for beginners.
One of the most effective attacks is the Jiu Jitsu armbar from mount. In fact, when it comes to BJJ submissions from mount, the Jiu Jitsu armbar is top on the list of Jiu-Jitsu moves from this submission position. Whether you train Martial Arts in Mesa AZ or Rio de Janeiro, rest assured, you will see the armbar attack.
If your opponent has full mount, keeping your elbows tight to your body while preventing your opponent from isolating either arm is key to avoiding arm submissions in Jiu-Jitsu.
As your opponent attacks the JiuJitsu armbar from mount, trapping one of their arms with an overhook is important. From there, use your foot on the same side as the trapped arm to block their leg from basing out. Then, bridge and roll towards the trapped arm to escape mount. When done properly, you will end up in their closed-guard. Remember to watch out for that Jiu Jitsu triangle once you are on top!
If your opponent manages to isolate an arm and get to one of the Jiu Jitsu armbar submission positions, all is not lost.
The full suite of armbar escapes will be covered in a future article. However, an effective solution is to lock your hands preventing your opponent from extending your arm. At this point use your elbows to scrape their top leg off your face and trap it behind your neck & upper back against the floor.
From there, push their lower leg down and trap it between your legs and roll over to your stomach. By doing this you will end up in a strong position to pass your opponent’s guard.
Rear Naked Choke - Jiu Jitsu Choke Hold
The rear naked choke is perhaps the ultimate Jiu Jitsu choke hold. The rear naked choke is a Jiu Jitsu choke applied from back control. If your opponent has your back, you can be certain a rear-naked choke attempt is coming.
Hand fighting is key for delaying this Jiu Jitsu choke initially. As your opponent slides their arm across your neck to attack the choke, grab their hands and start peeling them away from your neck. You will have much better success by grabbing at their hands as opposed to their wrist. Pulling on the wrist doesn’t have the same leverage as grabbing their hand.
Next, work to turn your back towards the mat until your shoulders are against the floor. Once you have your back to the floor, sit up and turn into your opponent. If done properly, you will end up in their closed guard.
Jiu-Jitsu Kimura Arm Submissions
The Kimura is a BJJ move that can be used as a shoulder lock submission position as well as a method to improve your position. For example, taking your opponent’s back as they attempt to pass your guard. The Kimura is one of the popular BJJ submissions from mount.
Opponent’s will often attack with the Kimura from top side control as you turn into them to recover your guard. As you turn into your opponent, if they underhook your top arm, they can lift your arm up and weave their other arm through your elbow pit, then grab a figure-four grip by grabbing your wrist with one of their hands and grabbing their own wrist with the hand that’s snaking through your elbow pit.
Your opponent can use the leverage of this Jiu-Jitsu position to rotate your shoulder past its normal range, resulting in your needing to tap or risk a major shoulder injury.
Avoiding the Kimura arm submission boils down to keeping your elbows tight to your ribs when your opponent has top position and preventing them from securing a strong underhook.
Pummeling for your own underhook and attempting to wrestle up to a single leg takedown is one option, with the other option being to hip escape and recover guard.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Submissions to Avoid: the bottom line
The list of BJJ submissions is vast and you will spend a lifetime studying the nuances of Jiu Jitsu chokes, Jiu Jitsu arm submissions, passing guard, Jiu Jitsu moves to escape, and of course, all the nasty details that make your BJJ moves actually work.
So, put on your Gi, tie your belt, and let’s get after it.
What are the most effective submissions in BJJ?
This depends largely on what position you are in. Also, every BJJ practitioner is different, where one may excel at slapping on the Jiu Jitsu triangle choke, others may prefer joint manipulation. If you are looking for a short list of BJJ submissions that are popular, this is a good start.
Jiu Jitsu Chokes: Rear Naked choke, triangle choke, head-and-arm choke
Arm submissions: Americana, Arm Bar, Omoplata
Leg Submissions: Heel Hook
Are there illegal submissions in BJJ?
Yes. Submissions such as small joint manipulation and spinal locks are banned in the sport, however spinal locks such as the twister and neck crank are legal in MMA.
What are the hardest submissions in BJJ?
By far and away the Gogoplata is considered to be one of the hardest submissions to pull off from the bottom. It is even rarer to see it successfully administered from mount, though it has been done in competition.