How to Break All the BJJ Rules and Get Away With It - HowTheyPlay - Sports
Updated date:

How to Break All the BJJ Rules and Get Away With It

Andrew Smith is a 3rd-degree BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, VA (Revolution BJJ). He runs BJJ Path, a video tutorial website.

how-to-use-the-kimura-from-the-turtle-position-in-bjj-a-tutorial

Doing All the Wrong Things Right

In BJJ, there are certain cardinal rules you learn when you first start, and these rules are incredibly helpful in getting started. For a novice, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a complex maze of confusing movements and a cacophony of limbs entangling one another until one person taps out.

Rules can simplify things to a great extent and give you guiding principles to work from. However, once you get to a certain point, your training partners also know all the rules relatively well, so it's time to deviate from them ("bend the rules") slightly in many cases, and in some cases to break the rules outright. We'll look at a few of the main "cardinal rules" of BJJ and how to break them effectively via links to BJJ tutorials.

countering-the-spinning-armbar-from-the-bottom-with-a-kimura-a-bjj-tutorial

Turning Your Back and Getting Away With iIt

BJJ cardinal rule:
Don't ever turn your back! Clearly, we all remember starting BJJ and how difficult it was to keep people from choking us whenever we turned away to avoid a guard pass. After hearing it over and over again (and, if you were like me, un-ingraining habits from wrestling), the light bulb goes off and you're able to program yourself not to turn away.

How you can break the rule:
The rule is a very good one in general, but as we'll see, there is a time when it's the right thing to do, particularly when there is a submission involved. If you were watching MMA in the late 1990s, it was tough not to notice Kazushi Sakuraba's fast rise to the top (and to be consistently ranked among the best fighters of all time). A lot of Saku's success resulted from his unorthodox style, including utilizing both kimuras and leglocks. That's an easy place to start.

Kimuras

Leglocks

tozisao-paulowilson-pass-no-gi-troubleshooting-details-a-bjj-tutorial

Posture in the Guard!

BJJ cardinal rule:
Always have good posture inside the closed guard! We quickly learn in BJJ that having low posture means being armbarred, choked, having your back taken, or any of a dozen other unforeseen disasters. Again, in general, this is excellent advice you should not forsake until you fully understand the risks and dangers involved with low posture.

How you can break the rule:
In what has, incredibly, become my own personal go-gi closed guard opening, I give you the "Wilson pass," AKA "São Paulo pass," AKA "Tozi pass." I was fortunate enough to learn directly from Wilson Reis (now a UFC fighter; even then an incredible black belt competitor in his own right) about 10 years ago, and I've made my own adjustments largely based on body type and personal preference.

basic-gi-chokes-from-the-back-a-bjj-tutorial

Don't Get Caught!

BJJ cardinal rule:
"Don't be late!" I will never forget attending several BJJ seminars relatively early on for me (the late 1990s) and hearing the same type of questions at virtually every seminar: "How do I get out of (X submission)?" The answer? "Don't be late." While this is, again, sound advice for the novice BJJ student, the reality remains that, sometimes, you're going to get caught.

How you can break the rule:
There are quite a few different ways to escape deep submissions, but the main concept always relies on deconstruction: determining what your partner is trying to do to you, and then either reversing the situation or else surviving and escaping, in spite of how bad things look at the moment.

leglock

Position Before Submission

BJJ cardinal rule: Position before submission! What a great rule for beginners. If you try for a choke inside your opponent's guard, you immediately get armbarred. "Once again, the kung fu man shows his lack of understanding of the fundamentals of Gracie Jiu Jitsu™." This is the rock-solid foundation upon which the current BJJ tower is built.

How you can break the rule:
Here's where really understanding what your partner's options are comes in handy. If you understand well your partner's ability to finish you and can even predict what they'll do, you can exploit this to your benefit, even from seemingly terrible positions.

You Are Part of the Community

If you've enjoyed this lesson, please take a minute to let me know, either in the comments section here, or else in person (at my gym or at a seminar). If you think another tutorial should be included in this lesson, please feel free to suggest it, too! And have fun breaking rules. It's fun.

© 2016 Andrew Smith

Comments

Andrew Smith (author) from Richmond, VA on August 05, 2016:

James is correct.

James Speight on August 05, 2016:

Rule of Jiu-Jitsu is to follow the rules until you do not have to follow the rules.

Andrew Smith (author) from Richmond, VA on June 07, 2016:

Glad to post, Izzy! Your footlocks from when the guy has your back are nasty!

Izzy on June 07, 2016:

By far, some of the best advice!!! I've rolled with another black belt that crossed his feet while taking my back and I foot lock him (Izzy style). His comment was well those are not allowed in Naga. Well, you have catch and escape using whatever you can and as you get better always have an open mind and don't assume there is only one way. Thanks for posting this Andrew!!

Related Stories

tozisao-paulowilson-pass-no-gi-troubleshooting-details-a-bjj-tutorial

Tozi/Sao Paulo/Wilson Pass: Uncrossing the Feet and Finishing: A BJJ Tutorial

A brief Brazilian jiu-jitsu tutorial outlining uncrossing the feet from the closed guard when executing the Tozi or Sao Paulo or Wilson guard pass!

tozisao-paulowilson-pass-no-gi-troubleshooting-details-a-bjj-tutorial

Tozi (Sao Paulo/Wilson) Pass Details: The Windshield Wiper Finish

A brief Brazilian jiu-jitsu tutorial on how to finish the São Paulo (Tozi, Wilson) guard pass by "windshield wipering" your feet, and some other key details.

leglock

Fancy and Funky Leglocks in BJJ (With Videos)

Discover some leglock attacks based on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, catch wrestling, sambo, and more.

tozisao-paulowilson-pass-no-gi-troubleshooting-details-a-bjj-tutorial

Tozi/Sao Paulo/Wilson Pass - No-Gi Troubleshooting Details (a BJJ Tutorial)

A brief tutorial on troubleshooting the Tozi pass for no-gi jiu jitsu.

how-to-break-grips-on-an-armbar-defense

How to Break Grips on an Armbar Defense in BJJ

Stuck in an armbar? Here are a few ways to get the finish when your opponent defends.

kimura-grip-key-concepts-catching-the-trail-arm-a-bjj-tutorial

How to "Catch the Trail Arm" and Get the Kimura Grip: A BJJ Tutorial

A brief BJJ tutorial on "catching the trail arm" with the Kimura grip and moving to the back!

how-to-do-a-wristlock-in-bjj

How to Do a Wristlock in BJJ

This article will explain how to use Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to break a wrist.

how-to-pass-butterfly-guard-in-bjj

How to Pass Butterfly Guard in BJJ

A brief tutorial on passing butterfly guard in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu by BJJ black belt Andrew Smith, owner of Revolution BJJ in Richmond, VA.

double-under-stack-pass-defense-2-a-bjj-tutorial

How to Defend Guard Pass (Double Under)—Early Stages BJJ Tutorial

A brief BJJ tutorial on the early stages of defense for the "double under stack" guard pass for Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Learning this skill can make your defense much more fluid and less straining on your lower back.

basic-deep-de-la-riva-guard-a-bjj-sweeps-tutorial

Basic De La Riva Guard: A BJJ Tutorial (With Videos)

This is a basic Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tutorial on using the De La Riva guard, with videos included!

how-to-do-the-clock-choke-in-bjj-and-defend-it

How to Do the Clock Choke in BJJ (and Defend It)

How to do a clock choke, with video instruction by Daniel Charles Frank, and tutorial by Andrew "Goatfury" Smith of Revolution BJJ in Richmond, VA.

how-to-break-posture-in-closed-guard

BJJ Techniques: How to Break Posture in Closed Guard

A brief tutorial on how to control someone's posture while they are in your closed guard.

tozisao-paulowilson-pass-no-gi-troubleshooting-details-a-bjj-tutorial

Tozi/Wilson Guard Pass: A BJJ Tutorial

A brief BJJ tutorial on how to do the "Wilson pass" or "Tozi guard pass" from closed guard.

combinations-in-bjj

Combinations in BJJ

A brief tutorial outlining several ways to combine and flow in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Flow is critical if you want to hold your own against your opponent in a match.

how-to-defend-the-armbar-from-the-back

How to Defend the Armbar From the Back in Jiu-Jitsu

A quick tutorial on defending the armlock from the back in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.