BJJ Terms

Basic terms in Jiu-Jitsu


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Vocabulary


A basic submission where the arm is bent and twisted towards the head in order to crank the shoulder.



An armbar is any technique that isolates and hyper-extends the elbow. Most often the term refers to an armbar that is executed by hyper-extending the elbow while holding the opponent's arm between your legs and the wrist held close to the chest.

Belt Ranking System

All beginners start with a white belt. For kids, the belt progression is white, gray, yellow, orange and green. Some schools (like Great White Martial Arts) add in-between belt colors so the kids feel like they are advancing faster. For adults, the progression is white, blue, purple, brown and black.  Stripes are used to indicate progress toward the next belt.  4 Stripes will indicate a student will soon be testing for the next color belt.


The techniques for safely falling to the ground, such as after a throw. To breakfall means to execute a safe fall to the mat. Also called rollovers and ukemi.

Collar Choke

Also called the x-choke, lapel choke, cross choke, jujime. A choke accomplished by gripping the collars of your opponent with opposite hands, which provides additional leverage – the actual choke comes from your wrists pressing against their neck.


The uniform worn when training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Also called a kimono.


A number of positions in grappling where the person on the bottom is defending themselves and controlling the person on top using their legs. In closed guard, the bottom person's legs are wrapped around their opponent’s waist with their ankles crossed. Open guard is the opposite, with the ankles being uncrossed.  In the open guard, the legs may be between your opponents legs, on their biceps, across their stomach etc.

Guard Pass

A technique done in order to get around or “pass” someone’s guard, ending with the top person securing a more dominant position. Attempting to perform these techniques against an opponent is called passing the guard.


Means the “gentle art”


A basic submission where the arm is generally bent and twisted toward the direction of the opponent's hips in order to twist the shoulder.


A dominant position in grappling where the person on top sits straddled across the torso of the person on bottom. In a self defense situation, the person with mount can strike without much threat of being struck back. In grappling, the mount offers leverage and control to effectively utilize chokes and armlocks. The person on the bottom is considered mounted.


Refers to training without the gi, usually wearing shorts and a T-shirt.


A drill done to train proper hip movement while on one’s back. It is an important part of many escapes and techniques. It is called “shrimping” because one bends in half like a shrimp as they scoot along the mat. Also called elbow escape or hip escape because of it is used in combination with the elbow in several escapes.

Side Control

A number of dominant positions in grappling where the person on top pins the opponent, usually with chest to chest contact. Also called crossbody, cross-side and side mount. Many particular holds from side control have specific names, such as 100 kilos and scarf hold.


A technique done from the guard to put an opponent on their back and allow the bottom person to move into a top and more dominant position. To sweep means to successfully perform such a technique.


As the name suggests, this term is used to refer to any technique which takes the opponent down to the ground.

Take the Back

To gain one of the most dominant positions in grappling (called rear mount) on an opponent’s back. From here, one can strike (in self defense situations) or choke the opponent with little fear of retaliation.

Tapping Out

Submitting or giving up in a match in order to avoid further pain or injury. Tapping out usually occurs when the person's opponent has either gotten them into a painful lock that they can not escape from, or they are simply receiving too much punishment to continue. To tap out, you tap the mat, your opponent, or say the word “tap” in a very audible fashion.


The type of fabric a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gi is made from. Single weave is one of the thinnest types, making it good for hot weather training. Double weave is twice the thickness of single, and gold weave is somewhere between the two. Summer weave is the lightest and most easily torn.


A bridging movement where you lie on your back and lift your hips off of the ground. Used in the basic bridge-and-roll mount escape.