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At Checkmat Brentwood you will learn to practice the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Like you may have heard or noticed, Jiu-Jitsu is not just a martial art, it’s a lifestyle. The experiences you encounter on and off the mat get engraved into your daily life and reflect in your personality. You will learn great lessons and gain many attributes. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a fun martial art but you must train with care. All new students must learn our dojo’s rules and etiquette when joining our program. Below you will find the following important details about our Jiu-Jitsu program:


Mat Etiquette

White Belt Curriculum

Belt Testing and Promotions

Belt System

Basic Positions & Techniques

Scoring Point System & Rules


The Martial Arts are based on respect, self-discipline and common courtesy.


• Always greet and bow to your instructors when entering and leaving the DOJO.

• Ask permission from the instructor to exit the mat area.

• Respect and obey all instructors and black belts. Respect all upper belts and be a

good example to lower belts.

• Try to arrive on time to class. We understand there are times you may be late due to

traffic and such, please let the instructor know before joining class.

• Please be quiet while waiting for your class to begin.

• Small children will be supervised at all times – please do not let them run around and

be disruptive.

• There will be no abusive language, attitude or behaviors of any kind.

Your uniform & personal hygiene:

• Wear a complete and approved Jiu-Jitsu uniform for all classes.

• All approved patches shall be sewn on all uniforms.

• Only White, Blue, and Black gis are allowed.

• Keep your uniform and belt clean and wash after each class. If you plan on training

consistently, we recommend buying a second gi.

• Practice good hygiene.

• Fingernails and toenails must be kept short – we don’t want anyone getting injured.

• Remove all jewelry before class for your classmates’ safety and yours (this includes

rings, necklaces, watches, bracelets, earrings, etc.)

• Students must wear an athletic form fitting t-shirt or rashguard under their uniform.

• Long hair should always be worn off face and pulled neatly back.

• Please do not get dressed on the training floor.

• Learn how to tie your belt properly – if you need help, just ask.

• No chewing gum during class.


• Always come to class “Ready to Train!”

• Work hard and be encouraging to your classmates.

• In training there are no winners and losers, you are there to learn.

• Give your best but do not hurt your training partners.

• Vary your training, work on your weaknesses, put yourself in difficult situations, use

your creativity.

• Don’t train for the belt, train to evolve your technique, the belt will come naturally.

• Don’t avoid difficult rolls, they are where you will learn.



Students are NOT guaranteed promotions/stripes based on attendance only. The following criteria must be met in order to be considered for a promotion:

• Demonstrates proficiency of required technique and skills

• Displays proper attitude and behavior

• Youth - Maintains acceptable academics

• Attends class consistently

• Shows up for class on time.

• Respects and follows Dojo Rules

Students become eligible for next belt when they have attended the minimum requirement of classes.

Youth must pass test set by the instructor. 

Adults receive their next belt at the instructors discretion. 






The belt system in BJJ is highly regarded, and for good reason. Unlike many other martial arts, where rank promotions can be acquired in relatively short periods and often with very little practical requirements, the Brazilian jiu jitsu belt system is quite strict and difficult to progress through.  

It can take upwards of 10 years to achieve the dan (black belt) grade, and requires not only technical knowledge, but also verifiable ability in sparring. Competition experience is also often expected. And as there are only a few belts, you will spend a long time on each one. Also, your progress will not be linear. You might spend 1 year at one belt and 5 years at another. It’s both an extremely challenging and rewarding institution, and it’s no surprise that the community pounces on anyone who messes with it.

Belt promotions don’t always go with hand in hand with skill or even knowledge and vary according to the coach and student. Sometimes it’s just down to time in service. Or it can be closely related to the practitioner’s raw fighting ability and competition performance. In fact, sometimes competitive performance can even slow belt promotion as coaches hold back their best students to increase their likelihood of medalling at tournaments.

In jiu jitsu the different belt levels generally equate with the student’s ability. But keep in mind that the dynamism and complexity of the art means that there are many parts to the equation, with physicality and athleticism being two that weigh heavily. So don’t be surprised (or judgemental) when the 56 year-old businessman who just received his blue belt after 2 years of hard training is smashed by the 22 year-old linebacker who just started coming to class 3 months ago.

The Plateau is Your Friend

Within each belt level there will also be many invisible sub-levels.  You will often spend weeks or months on plateaus before being rewarded with a jump in ability. Sometimes it will actually seem as if you are getting worse instead of better. But the plateau is actually your friend and is itself an indicator of progress. It is those who have the mental strength to keep going when they find themselves on a plateau that break through to a higher level of ability.

Several years ago, black belt Roy Harris wrote a good article detailing what was expected at each belt. I have extrapolated on this and provided a breakdown of what is expected from our students at each belt. Keep in mind that these are just guidelines.

No matter what, remember to enjoy the process. Don’t be too focused on achieving the next belt or winning competitions and miss the ride.


Frame of Reference

As a white belt, your goal is to create a frame of reference for your future learning. This is where you figure out what you need to know, and start to formulate a plan for how to acquire it. Think of BJJ as a jigsaw puzzle that you are putting together. At the white belt level is where you create the bordering or outer edges of the picture before you begin filling in the centre. Using things like flow diagrams and a basic curriculum that focuses on the fundamentals will help greatly.



Learning to relax is an absolutely essential skill and white belt is the best time to acquire it. I cannot overstate how important this is. The only way you will be able to do this is by learning to control your ego.

Remember: nothing is expected of you at this stage. Try to focus your energy on taking in all the different aspects of the training experience instead of trying to win every sparring encounter.


Less is More

A major enemy of the white belt is the tendency to try to acquire too much technical knowledge. It may seem counterintuitive, but at this stage learning twice as many techniques will not help you twice as much. It’s actually more likely to hinder your progress. It’s far better to get a deep understanding of a few basic movements and techniques than to get confused by an overwhelming number of possibilities.

Get in Shape

Conditioning is also important for the white belt. Although several weekly bjj classes will eventually cause your body to adapt, this can be sped up with an intelligently designed supplemental training program. 

Some Suggested Goals at White Belt:

  1. Learn the names of each of the main positions and acquire a basic familiarity with each of them. For example, be able to identify the guard position.

  1. Learn to control your ego by accepting that you will be beaten by the more advanced students. If you are big and naturally athletic this will be even more important for you.

  1. Get used to the ‘feeling’ of jiu-jitsu. Pay attention to how your body moves on the ground and the way a resisting opponent uses his strength and weight.

  1. Choose one from each position technique and try to master it. For example, one guard pass, one submission from side mount, one sweep etc.



Focus on Defense

Buchecha was once asked, the best jiu-jitsu fighter in history, what made him so good. After thinking about it for a while, he replied: “I built my game off a solid defense. I first made it almost impossible for anybody to tap me out.”

One of Blue Belts point of focus should be exclusively on defense. In fact, blue belt students may not be promoted to purple until they have a rock-solid defense. We want to see them able to escape from all the major positions and classic submissions with relative ease. Regardless what flashy sweeps or submissions they can do, if a higher level belts dosen't struggle to control and submit them they won’t get graded.

Get Good at Guard Passing

Secondly, You will need to learn to pass the guard. To me, passing the guard is the most difficult aspect of jiu-jitsu. And every year it becomes harder, as new more complicated guards emerge. You will spend a great deal of time in opponents’ guards, so it makes sense to become proficient at dealing with them. When a student is approaching purple belt, we start grooming them by making them begin most of his sparring matches inside the other player’s guard.

Some Suggested Goals at Blue Belt:

  1. Have two solid escapes from Mount, Back Mount and Side Mount.

  1. Master three techniques for passing the guard, in particular one each from any closed, half and open guard variant.

  1. Fight in at least one competition.




Learn to Use Momentum

This is the belt of movement and momentum. Through the acquisition of timing and sensitivity, you will learn how to use and generate momentum (as well as redirect the momentum of your opponent) to achieve many of your objectives. A lot of the ‘wasted movement’ that naturally occurred in your game at the previous belts will be shaved away.

Although sparring is always an integral part of jiu jitsu, at the purple belt you really need to put the hours in. There is no short-cut here, but ‘Flow’ rolling and grappling with your eyes closed will definitely help.

Double-Check Your Foundation

Purple belt is also where you will finish laying the foundation of your entire game. As mentioned earlier, I suggest that the bulk of this foundation be a solid defense. Before you become a senior grade it’s wise to revisit this and make sure that you are a master of escapes and a nightmare to submit.

Focus on Your Weaknesses

About a year into your purple belt is a good time to do an honest assessment of your game. Figure out where you have the greatest weaknesses (or ask your coach) and through focused training make it a goal to turn those areas into your greatest strengths. This will make you a well-rounded fighter that is able to specialize into his style of choice.

Dangerous Guard

A good purple belt also has a great offense and is dangerous from any position. This is also where the player should start learning to attack using combinations of techniques – an initial set up and at least one counter to the standard defense.

As a purple belt your guard should be very effective. You should have a familiarity with all the different guards and be very dangerous from at least a couple of them.

Some Suggested Goals at Purple Belt:

  1. Know and be able to execute 3 combination attacks from guard position.

  1. Know and be able to execute 3 submissions from the Side-Mount, Mount and Back-Mount.

  1. Become familiar and adept with both using and passing the most commonly encountered variants of the guard position (de la Riva, deep-half, spider etc.).



Shifting from Defense to Attack

The brown belt is the point at which your focus will shift primarily from defense to attack. The air-tight defense you laid during the earlier belts will allow you to be much more aggressive in your hunt for submissions, sweeps and passes, as you will have little concern about being attacked or being placed in a bad spot.

Dominant From the Top

A brown belt is always a threat from the top positions. In mount and side mount he knows how to use his body weight and makes sure the fighter underneath feels and carries every ounce of it. He will pass the guard at even the narrowest window of opportunity, and his excellent balance will make him very difficult to sweep while he does so.

Depth of Technical Knowledge

Even though you will probably develop your own style and preferences, there will be very, very few positions or situations that you will be unfamiliar with as a brown belt You will have learned (or created) counters to almost all the most commonly experienced defensive and offensive techniques. This means that you will be one or two steps ahead of lower-level opponents. You also will have several ‘signature’ techniques. These are moves which you know exceptionally well and have a relatively high percentage of success with on almost anyone.

Begin Teaching

A quality brown belt should be able to teach the art to others. This is actually when many BJJ players realize that they have a passion for teaching and decide to embark on coaching as a career path. You will also understand that teaching is a good way to consolidate the knowledge you have gained up to this point and acquire deeper insight.

Holistic Approach

By now, as a long-term jiu jitsu player, you have probably started to take a holistic view of your training in the art. You realize that your jiu jitsu performance is intrinsically interlinked with your physical and mental health, so you will seek to improve both using any avenues available.

Some Suggested Goals at Brown Belt:

  1. Try to teach a few classes at your academy

  1. Perfect your weight distribution and balance in the top positions.

  1. Have at least two 3-phase (Attack -> defense counter 1 -> defense counter 2)  attack sequences from each of the main positions



Transcending Technique

You now know that there are no absolutes in jiu jitsu and begin to transcend the techniques and guidelines you picked up along your journey. You can easily ‘riff’ during sparring – just going where your body and your opponent take you. Your deep, intuitive understanding of the art means that you can instinctively ‘feel’ your way through most matches, even when confronted by a move or situation you’ve never seen before.


Fresh Eyes

The black belt starts to look at everything with a fresh set of eyes. You are now able to take see new nuances in ‘basic’ movements that you’ve already practiced thousands of times, and continue to improve and refine them.

You will also begins to see jiu jitsu in everything and draw inspiration from not only other martial disciplines, but diverse fields of art and study.

Quality Human Being

Most importantly, the path to the black belt has created (or enhanced) a quality human being.

By this stage you will know far more about your body, mind and spirit than you did at the start of the journey into jiu jitsu, and you will be acutely aware of your capabilities and limitations.

The black belt  is humble, friendly and respectful of others. Although you are a highly efficient and dangerous martial artist, you never seek confrontation and only use your skills and abilities to defend and help those less capable.

Some Suggested Goals at Black Belt:

  1. Understand that the journey is not over. Remain humble and continue to learn and grow.

  1. If you haven’t yet already, consider training in a second, functional martial art (Wrestling, Muay Thai, Boxing, Judo, MMA)

  1. Become proficient at yoga in order to maintain your body and attributes into old age as much as possible and allow you keep practicing.

In Place Drills

• Triangle Hip Ups

• Sit Throughs

• Bridge to Turtle

• Sit Up Sweep Sit Ups

• Sprawls

Partner Drills

• Arm Drags

• Partner Pummel

• Partner Shoulder Walk

• Partner Grip Drag

• Partner Clinch Push

• Partner Belt Drag

• Partner Carry Back2Back

• Partner Sit Ups on Back

• Partner Kimura Sit Ups

• Compas Armbar Drill

• Gorilla Drill

• Leg Drag Pass

• Toreando Pass to Knee on Belly



When starting, the class begins with a combination of warm ups. These warms ups consist of movements and exercises that mimic Jiu-Jitsu movements. Below is a list of warm ups done at Checkmat Brentwood. 

Laps Around Mat

• Running

• Shuffle inside 

• Shuffle outside 

• Shuffle 2 in/out 

• Skipping

• Bottom Kickers

• High Knees

• Wrestling Stance

Lines Down the Mat

• Bear Crawl

• Backwards Bear Crawl

• Spider Crawl

• Crab Crawl

• Scorpion

• Gorilla Walk

• Seal Walk

• Alligator Walk

• Cartwheels

• Shot - Sprawl

• Cross Choke Drag (army crawl variation) 

• Forward Scoot

• Backward Scoot

• Forward Invisible Rope

• Backward Invisible Rope

• Break falls

• Forward Roll

• Backward Roll

• Hip-Escape (Shrimp​)

​• Hip-Escape to Knees

• Forward Hip-Escape

• Shots

• S-Walk

• Technical Standup

• Berimbolo

• Side Hip Escape

• Shoulder Walks

• Sit Throughs



A match starts in standing position with a wrestling stance base. High five or shake your opponents hand and fist bump is a tradition seen in all schools before the fight begins. Here you have the option of taking down your opponent or pulling guard. Be prepared to sprawl to defend a takedown or break fall if you are taken down. 

The takedown is one of the most important techniques you’ll learn in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. In a BJJ match, takedowns are a necessity for top game players. On the streets, where there are no rules, being on top when the fight goes to the ground is an overwhelming advantage.

Whether in training or competition, takedowns are used by practitioners to throw their opponents off balance and take them down. This allows them to take control of the match, giving them the advantage when they end up on the ground.




This position is often the first position learned in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, yet is one of the last to truly be mastered. It is widely considered to be a safe position for the person on the bottom since it limits the movement of the opponent, as well as greatly reduces any strength advantage that the opponent might have. From this position, the person on bottom has access to a variety of sweeps and submissions, and they are relatively safe from being submitted in this position.

Attacks and Details for Full Guard (person on bottom)

1. Move! Many people get to a Full Guard position only to become static and unmoving. They lie there resting and waiting for the opponent to make a mistake. In order to set up a sweep or submission, you have to be constantly attacking the opponent in different and unexpected ways. Just like tipping over a heavy object, you sometimes have to rock it back and forth several times before you have the momentum to knock it over. Don’t let Full Guard be a resting position.

2. Change the angle. The easiest way for the defender to open and pass through your Full Guard is for your body and theirs to be oriented in a straight line. If you begin rotating your body position so that you are at an angle to the defender, you remove a lot of their leverage and strength. It is much more difficult to push hard against something that isn’t straight in front of you. Being at an angle also affects their balance and provides you

greater leverage if you decide to push/pull with your legs. The most successful Full Guards are ones that are constantly moving and switching the attack angles.

3. Get a grip. If you can grab the opponent somewhere, you can begin to control their movements. If they want to have control and not be controlled, then they have to focus on breaking your grip. If they are focusing on your grip, they are not focusing on the rest

of their body. This gives you an opportunity to set up sweeps and submissions. The most commonly used grips are 1) reaching across their body and grabbing the lapel on the opposite side, 2) grabbing sleeves, and 3) grabbing a lapel on the same side of the body.

4. Break down their posture. The defender will not be able to easily pass your guard if their shoulders are in front of their hips. If you can control the space between you two, you control the momentum of the match.

Defending and Escaping Full Guard (person on top) 

1. Heads up! Posture is everything when it comes to defending the Full Guard. The attacker will want to break down your posture, control your arms, and keep you off balance through switching angles. The first step to breaking their guard is to set a good posture and balance. You should have your head up and shoulders back. Don’t sit straight up vertically or lean back or else you risk being pushed straight backward.

2. Frame up! As part of your posture, you should lean slightly forward and create a frame with your arms so that they cannot easily push your pull you over. The easiest way to create the frame is to grab the top hem of their gi pants with both hands somewhere between their hips and curl your hands so that your fist is pushing into their abdomen (Do not punch them!). Now, set your elbows into the middle-line of their thighs and hold them there. Your forearm now connects their thigh to their belly in a straight, unbendable joint. If the person tries to pull you down, the force is transferred from their legs through your arm directly into their abdomen. You have taken your muscle out of the equation, and they are now pushing against themselves, leaving you to work on setting up an escape.

3. Both hands in or both out. Never use just one hand to try to break their guard. If you are pushing on their leg with one hand, you will most likely be submitted via Triangle Choke very quickly. To protect against the triangle, always keep both hands together. If you want to push your arms through their legs to outside their guard, do this with both hands at the same time.



This a very strong control position for the person on top. This is one of the most difficult positions to escape from when on bottom since the person on top is controlling both arms of their opponent, as well as isolating their hips and legs.

Side control is basically a cross body position which allows you upper body control. In terms of BJJ, it is a great place to be, especially if you have a dynamic attacking game. Side control offers plenty of submission options that involve both joint locks and strangles. It is also the gateway to checkmate positions like the mount or back control. Furthermore, there are actually very few direct attacks a bottom person can efficiently do, making it a very safe spot to be.

The key principle of the position is upper body control through pressure and mechanical leverage. When in side control you need to control either the neck or the hips of your opponent. Traditionally it is more common to control the head. your body should be at a 90-degree angle to the opponents. This provides both pressure and stability. In terms of Jiu-Jitsu basics, you want to be able to stay in side control at least 5-10 seconds without giving away the position.

This might prove to be a really difficult task. If you’re up against an experienced, or much larger and stronger opponent, side control is very difficult to retain. There are certain tips and tricks to help weight distribution and pressure, of course. However, they do not guarantee you a long ride time, nor an inescapable pin. The best way to achieve constant control is by staying active. If you keep moving, holding side control is going to become a breeze. To do that, you’ll need to switch back and forth between some of the most common side control variations in BJJ. Learn more about Side Control Here



For the person on the bottom, this is position is the opposite the opposite of being in Full Guard.  The top person has a huge advantage in this position because they are able to avoid the protection normally offered by their opponent’s legs. There are a wide variety of transitions and submissions from this position. It is very difficult for the bottom person to transition into a better position.


Attacks and Details for Full Mount (person on top)

1. Keep your hips down. The defender will be able to use any gaps that form between your hips and theirs to their advantage. New students often have trouble holding onto the mount position, and it is often because their hips are too high. When you get to Full Mount, focus on driving your hips down towards the mat. If you can wrap your legs so that they are hooked under the defender’s as shown in the image above, you can generate much more leverage.

2. Keep your arms free. The easiest escape from this position is the “bridge-and-roll” escape which requires the defender to control the arm and leg on one side of your body. When it is controlled, they can push you to that side and you won’t be able to stop yourself from being rolled over. A good rule of thumb is to lever let your hands travel below the defender’s armpits. If your hands stay at their shoulder or above, you will have the opportunity to prevent the “bridge-and-roll” escape.

3. Stay active. The defender will have to work very hard to escape mount. You have the advantage of gravity and the freedom to move and make adjustments very quickly if you need to. The defender will have to make sacrifices to their defense in order to generate the space needed to escape, and if you are playing an active game then you can use these sacrifices to get easy submissions. Mount isn’t about holding the opponent down, it is about controlling the opponent and their movement. If the defender sits still, you can begin working on setting up a variety of chokes, Armbars, or the Americana. The defender will have to move to defend these, and that movement creates opportunity. If

you’re sitting still, you’re losing the advantage.

Defending and Escaping Full Mount (person on bottom)

1. Stay tight. You’re in a bad spot here, but panic will only make it worse. The worst thing you can do here is to try to push the opponent off of you. The two most common submissions from this position are chokes and armbars, and both are a result of your hands and arms being too far away from your body. Ideally, you should have your elbows tight against your body and your hands near your neck to defend chokes.

2. Don’t be flat on your back. To escape this position, you have to have mobility. You will not be able to move if your back and hips are flat on the mat. Try to stay slightly on your side so that one shoulder and hip are off the mat. Don’t turn too far to your side or you will give them an opportunity to get to Back Mount. Turn just enough so that you can move when you have the opportunity.

3. Keep your legs active. It may not seem like it, but you will need active legs in order to escape this position. If your legs are flat on the mat, you will never have the ability to escape this position. Keep at least one heel on the mat at all times. This will allow you to

bridge your body up, roll from side to side, and shrimp your hips away from the opponent if you get the opportunity. Even though you don’t have a lot of freedom with your legs in this position, you can still use them to make the attacker’s job more difficult. For example, you can bump them up with your thigh to shift their weight forward when they aren’t expecting it, disrupting their balance and offering you an opportunity to move.


Mat Etiquette
Belt Testing
Belt System

Also called Knee Mount. As the name implies, the goal of this position is to control your opponent through pressure of your knee into their belly. Obviously, this can be a very uncomfortable position for the person on bottom, especially when the opponent is large. Size, however, is not as important in this position as you would think. With proper grips and positioning, the person on top can pull themselves down into the bottom person’s belly. This creates a tremendous amount of downward force into the opponent’s core no matter how much you weigh. This is a favored position for the active roller, though they tend to not stay here for long. This position is usually achieved when the attacker is able to pass the defender’s open Guard or as a transition from Side Control to another dominant position. From this position, the person on top can monitor the movement of their opponent and quickly react. Given enough time, the person on bottom will escape this position, so this position is often used as a stepping stone to a stronger position or to a sneaky submission. You’ll see a large number of Lapel Chokes and Armbars come from this position, as well as transitions to Side Control or Mount.

Attacks and Details for Knee on Belly (for person on top) 

1. Control high and low! For this position to work properly, you need to keep your opponent flat on their back, which means you have to control both their shoulders and hips–the two most important body parts for rolling over. There are a few different grips

you can take to accomplish this. The most popular of these is to grip their belt across their body and their lapel on the near side (as shown in the diagram). Another popular option is to grab their lapel in the same place but with the opposite hand, and with your

now free hand grab the defender’s arm at the elbow. In this option, you’ll need to be actively pulling on the lapel and arm to keep the defender’s shoulders off of the mat and driving down with your knee onto their hips to control them.

2. Posture up! Posture is one of the biggest mistakes an attacker will make in Knee on Belly. If your posture is low and bent over, you’ll be putting less focused weight on the defender (that’s bad) and also bringing your upper body close enough to them for them

to start getting grips on your upper body (this is worse). Stay tall and strong in Knee on Belly if you want to stay King (or Queen) of the Mountain.

3. Push and Pull! This position is powerful for both big people and small. Even if you don’t weigh much, you can still generate a lot of downward force by pulling yourself down using your grips. A 130-pound person can easily feel like over 200 by pulling on the belt

and lapel while keeping a good posture as mentioned in number 2. If your posture is tall and strong, then all of your pulling force gets directed straight into the sharp point of your knee and therefore into the opponent's softest body part–their core.

4. Stay active! This isn’t a position that you can stay in for a long period of time. Eventually, the defender will commit to either rolling towards you or away from you in an effort to clear the weight off of their belly. You know it is coming, so be ready to move as soon as

they choose a direction. Pivoting your weight on your knee will give you opportunities to land in Mount or Side Mount, and depending on the grips you decide to take you will have access to a variety of chokes and Armbars.

Defending and Escaping Knee on Belly (for on bottom)

1. Elbows in! In defending this position, you want to keep your hands and elbows tucked as close to your body as possible. If you extend either of your arms straight out, you are inviting the opponent to grab this arm and easily pivot into an armbar.

2. Be Shrimpy! Your hips are your best tool for escaping this position. If you are positioned like in the diagram, push against their knee using your right elbow (remember don’t straighten your arm! Keep your hands and arms tight to your chest) and roll your body

towards the person. Your elbow in their knee will hopefully prevent them from shifting their weight and stopping your roll. Once you are partially on your side, shrimp your hips away from the attacker. Using this new space between your lower body and theirs, use

your legs to try to recover Half Guard or Full Guard.

3. Get to your belly! This takes some practice, but if you can roll to your belly properly, you have the opportunity to quickly get into a dominant position. My favorite thing to do is grab the attackers belt at the knot using my outside arm (the left arm in the diagram). Don’t push on the knee with this hand and don’t leave your arm out straight for long without a grip on the belt or else you will get armbarred. Grab the belt with your left and immediately grab the opponent’s pants at the ankle with your right hand. Note that you will grab the pants of the leg that is straight on the floor, not the leg that has the knee in your belly. The purpose of grabbing the pants here is to prevent the attacker from being able to step around and over your head to fall into the armbar. With these two control grips, you should be shrimp your hips away and roll onto your belly and start the process of standing up.



This position is sometimes referred to as “taking the back”. The biggest benefit of this position is that it effectively neutralizes any size or strength advantage the opponent once had. When a smaller person is rolling against a bigger opponent, this position becomes the Holy Grail. From Back Mount, you can easily transition to a large number of submissions including chokes and armbars.

Attacks and Details for Back Mount (for person in blue)

1. Don’t cross your ankles! When you take somebody’s back, you’ll have the instinct to lock your feet together like in a closed Guard. Instead, hook each foot onto the same-side hip or leg of the opponent. If the ankles are crossed, the defender has access to a very easy variation of the Straight Ankle submission. More advanced practitioners can avoid this submission, but for the white belt, this can be a sharp (and embarrassing!) lesson to learn.

2. Get a grip! If you can’t control the defender’s upper body, you will lose this position. One of the most secure grips is shown in the image above–the over/under-grip. This grip involves placing one of your arms on top of their shoulder and the other arm underneath their other armpit. You can grab your own hands or grab the opponent’s lapels to start working towards a large number of chokes. This grip will help prevent the defender from being able to roll in either direction and helps keep them from shifting their position too high or low relative to your own.

3. Put your back into it! Don’t get lazy just because you got their back. You need to keep them stretched out and uncomfortable so that they will not be able to mount a good defense. One great option is to push down on their hips with your legs and pull up on their upper body using your grips. Stiffen and arch your back and they will become too stretched out, making it easier to work on the submissions.

Defending and Escaping Back Mount (for person in white)

1. Get to work! You are in a lot of danger here so don’t get lazy. It will take a tremendous, full-bodied effort to escape this position. Don’t sit around waiting for the attacker to make a mistake. Instead, do everything you can to keep them from progressing in the position. Never stop moving and working.

2. Address the grips! Don’t let the attacker get a grip on your lapel or get their arm under your chin where they can threaten the choke. Keep your chin down and at least one hand up near your neckline to ward off any attempts at gripping your lapel. When you get the opportunity, try to grab the arm that is on top of your shoulder with both hands and lift it up and over your head. Now, both attacker’s arms will be on one side of your body and you can more easily turn your body to face the opponent.

3. Keep your feet active. You’ll need to work to remove the attacker’s hooks from your hips and legs. Don’t just sit flat on the mat with limp legs. Keep them working the entire time you’re in back mount to defend or remove the attacker’s hooks.



This is a versatile position in which the person on bottom is using both legs to control a single leg of the opponent. While Half Guard does not offer as much safety as Full Guard, it does offer a greater amount of mobility. This position is difficult to master, but those that do master it tend to be the most difficult opponents to roll with.

Attacks and Details for Half Guard (for person on bottom)

1. Stay off your back! The key to a good Half Guard is to be able to maintain strength and mobility. Since one of your legs will be turned horizontally so that it is trapping the defender’s leg, you will greatly reduce the ability to use your hips for movement if you lay flat on your back. The best positioning here is to lay on your side and resists all attempts to be flattened out by the defender.

2. Get an Underhook. If you are only using your legs in this position, you will eventually fail. The defender will be using their entire body to pass your guard, so you have to also engage your entire body. The two most popular decisions are to either 1) Get an underhook with your top arm and work towards sitting up and moving around the defender or 2) trying to hook under (scoop beneath) the defender’s hips or legs with the bottom arm and working to control the defender’s lower body.

3. Avoid the cross-face. The defender wants you to be flat on your back (See detail 1), and to do this they will often use the arm/shoulder that is closest to your face to pressure your head down towards the mat. If they control your head, they control your body. To avoid this, keep your elbows tight to your body and keep your hands up near your face. If their arm comes towards your head, simply block it with your hands. Do not reach for their arm, let it come to you.

4. Full Guard is always an option! If you don’t have confidence in your Half Guard, try to open enough space to pull your knee out from between their legs and recover your Full Guard.

Defending and Escaping Half Guard (for person on top)

1. Kill their hips! If the person on bottom is able to generate strength and movement, they will have several options for sweeps or recovery to Full Guard. Strength and movement in this position come from their hips, so this is what you must address. The most

common technique here is to try to get your body perpendicular to theirs and use your shoulder to put pressure on their head to flatten them out on their back. A rarely used detail here is to figure-four your own legs once you are perpendicular. It strains their hips and helps to anchor you to the mat so that you are more difficult to roll.

2. Block the underhooks. The attacker will have no options if they cannot use their arms to gain some control over you. They will either go high by reaching for the underhook or go low and try to scoop under your hips. Don’t let them get either control point or else passing their guard will get much more difficult.

3. Push the knee through. The attacker will be trying to control one of your legs with both of theirs. To pass their guard, you will need to remove your leg from their control. If you are trying to pull your foot out, it will be very difficult. Instead, think of your task as

trying to push your knee through their hips. Thinking about this movement as a push instead of a pull will instinctively change your approach to the position.



Open Guard is where your legs are NOT locked around your opponent’s torso. Just because your legs aren’t closed doesn’t mean that you can’t control or attack your opponent – far from it! There are many positional variations, sweeps and submission setups for the Open Guard, making it the bread and butter for many Jiu-jitsu competitors.

You can transition deliberately from the Closed Guard to an Open Guard, or your opponent can do it for you by forcing your ankles to uncross as part of a guard pass attempt. Regardless of how you get there, in Open Guard the options and possibilities expand considerably.

Once achieved, the Open Guard isn’t quite as neat and tidy as the Closed Guard. There is less static control available in Open Guard and positions often change in an instant. You may be in Spider Guard one minute and in de la Riva the next. It becomes important to be able to transition between different Open Guards in order to stay a step ahead.

It is difficult to exactly define the Standard Open Guard, because it is such a dynamic and variable position, seamlessly flowing into other guard positions and/or borrowing elements from them.


Standard Open Guard as a position where your legs are not locked around your opponent’s waist, and at least one foot (but often both) is on your opponent’s hips. Having a foot on the opponent’s hip enables you to control the space between you. There are different upper body controls, each offering different sweep, submission and transition setups. You can learn more about Open Guard Here.


For many BJJ practitioners, regardless of their level, competition can be a daunting experience. You need to make weight, be physically fit and conditioned enough to win and have exceptional technique for your belt level. Then there’s the pressure from your coaches and teammates to perform well, the noise from the audience and your own nerves – this could certainly be a lot to deal with. Because of this, remembering the rules of the tournament could prove to be difficult. Even if you aren’t planning on competing, learning the rules for competition will help you understand the importance of what your professor teaches in class.

How to win: To win a match, you must outscore your opponent or submit them. Points are rewarded to competitors for gaining certain dominant positions and the actions they take to get there.

Advantage points are given for “almost” earning a point or submission. Also, if your opponent does something unacceptable, he will be disqualified, which will give you the match.

When a technique forces an athlete to admit defeat, this is considered a submission. Usually, this is done with tapping (physical and verbal).


The Point System

4 points – Rear mount/ Take the back
4 points – Mount
3 points – Passing the guard
2 points – Knee-on-belly
2 points – Sweep (from guard)
2 points – Takedown



Point System

This is one of the most advantageous positions for any grappler. In this position, you should be able to grab ahold of your opponent’s neck and wrap your legs around his/her waist. Your insteps must be on the inside of your opponent’s thighs. If both your heels are not in this position, you won’t be awarded any points.



This is the most dominant position in any match. This position is achieved when you are able to sit on your opponent’s torso. If one knee and one foot are on the ground, it will also be considered a mount.



If you are in the top position and able to establish a dominant position over your opponent’s torso, controlling him and leaving him no space to escape or move, you have successfully passed the guard. Hence, the action of passing will give you 3 points. To receive the points, you must establish this move for 3 or more seconds. If your opponent is able to escape, an advantage will be awarded instead.



If you are able to place your knee and shin across your opponent’s stomach while holding his/her collar/sleeve and belt/pants, you have achieved the knee on belly position. To receive the points, you must be able to hold this position for at least 3 seconds. If your opponent is able to escape, an advantage will be awarded instead.



A sweep is performed to reverse the opponent from top to bottom position in a way that he/she is unable to defend or post. If the move does not begin from inside the guard or half guard, you will not receive points.



If you are able to take your opponent down to the ground and control them, you will be awarded 2 points for your takedown. Your opponent must land on his/her side or back in order to receive the points for the takedown.

Other important details to remember:

  • You cannot slam your opponent – Not only could this move potentially injure your opponent, it is also considered illegal in IBJFF rules.

  • If you plan to pull guard, act quickly – If you and your opponent race to pull guard and you fall back as you attempt to pull him into your guard, they get 2 points for a sweep.

  • You will get penalized for talking to the referee – No, you cannot sweet talk your way out of that knee reap. Talking to the referee will only affect your score, and not in the way you’d like.

  • You will get disqualified for stalling – So you’ve finally established your position against your opponent and you’d like to stay there till the match finishes. Unfortunately, this is called stalling and could earn you a penalty, or worse, could potentially disqualify you. Unless you’re in the mount or back mount, you need to keep on moving!

  • You have 20 seconds to tie your belt – Just because your belt fell on the ground, it doesn’t mean that you should take this time to recover from your match. If you take longer than 20 seconds, you will be penalized.

  • You don’t get any points for side control – Being in side control will only give you points if you’ve passed the guard or swept your opponent beforehand.

  • Cranks are not submissions – If you’re thinking of using a neck crank, don’t bother. You’ll be disqualified for it.

  • Reaping the leg – Reaping, or bending your opponent’s leg inwards is an illegal move in IBJJF rules. If you’re looking to attack your opponent’s leg, ensure that it is straight or bent outwards.

You will be immediately disqualified if you do any of the following:

  • Use foul language, cursing, or any other immoral acts of disrespect towards the referee or any of the assisting public.

  • Biting, hair pulling, intentionally placing fingers in eyes, nose or mouth, intentionally seeking to injure genitalia or the use of fists, feet, knees, elbows or heads with the intention to hurt or gain unfair advantage.

  • Running out of the mat area when put in a submission hold.


Although this is by no means an exhaustive list of IBJJF rules, it covers all that you need to know before competition day. For more details about IBJJF rules, visit the IBJJF website.

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