Everything in jiu-jitsu comes from moving your body in a smart, methodical way. Knowing what these words mean will help you understand the movements, especially when a coach tells you what to do in class or in competition. Knowing these five movements and how to do them will help your jiu-jitsu come more naturally, whether on your own or with a coach.
5 Basic Movements
- Hip Escape/Shrimp
A hip escape or shrimp is one of the most essential and simple movements in jiu-jitsu. It is probably the first thing you learned during warmups. In this movement, you start laying flat on your back, then turn, keeping your feet in place, but moving your hips out to the side, then squaring back up flat. This way of moving can help you escape the mount, side control, and more. It is a simple, low-risk way of moving away from your partner or creating space. Most gyms incorporate this movement into their regular warm-ups, and it may seem monotonous and boring, but you probably do it during every roll without even realizing it.
A sprawl is used to defend your opponent’s takedown. When they shoot for your legs, your immediate reaction should be to sprawl by jumping your feet backward and putting your chest heavy on their back. The next step is to spin around so you are facing the same way as them, transitioning to a back take. The sprawl is another common warm-up technique, and in wrestling and takedown jiu-jitsu, it is the best way to prevent being taken down.
Bridging is just like a glute bridge in other fitness activities but is much more useful in jiu-jitsu. Laying on your back, you plant your feet on the mat and lift your hips toward the ceiling. The bridge can be used to bump your partner off the balance if they have you mounted or in side control. Additionally, depending on the effectiveness of your bridge and its balance, it can even lead to a sweep.
- Sweep (2 points)
A sweep occurs when you move from being in the bottom position to the top. There is a wide variety of sweeps in the jiu-jitsu playbook, all of which result in being in the top position and earning you two points. In most cases, if done correctly, you land right back in mount. Some of the most common sweeps include the scissor sweep, sit-up/hip-over sweep, pendulum/flower sweep, and hook flip.
- Guard Pass (3 points)
The guard is never a good place to be. Thus, it is called ‘passing the guard’ when you open up your partner’s legs and get out, landing in either knee on belly, side control or mount. A guard pass is the only technique that gives three points and generally puts you in a more dominant position. However, you must remain out of the guard and in your new position for at least three seconds. If you get out and they immediately trap your leg again, no points are awarded.