The Ultimate Guide To Basic Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Positions

Basic Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Positions


When it comes to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or BJJ, the basics are extremely important. If you are like many people, you may be asking yourself why. The simple answer is that perfecting the basics ensures that you don’t miss opportunities during a competition, in class or in a self-defense situation.

Here are the basic positions that you should know:


-Side control

-Knee on belly



-Rear mount/back control

Here are the basic movements that you should know:






-Guard passes

 Here are the basic submissions you should know:


-Arm bar


-Americana/Figure 4

-Rear naked choke


 Let’s discuss these positions, movements, and submissions in more in detail, shall we?

Basic Jiu Jitsu Positions


 The Guard

One of the most basic positions is the Guard, where one person is on his/her back and the legs are locked around their opponent.

Basic Info About The Guard

The guard is an extremely important position. When you’re in your guard, you’re able to beat your opponent by sweeping or submitting them. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’re losing when you’re on your back. Contrary to wrestling and judo, you haven’t lost. This couldn’t be further from the truth. You actually have a great chance of actually winning the fight as it is both an offensive and defensive position. If you can’t effectively get in the guard position, you may have a hard time exceling in Jiu Jitsu. Seek guidance from coach Shawn on how you can improve your flexibility or technique.

Side Control

The side control is a position where the two BJJ practitioners are chest-to-chest.

Basic Info About Side Control

The most effective way to avoid attacks inside the guard is to get into the side control position. If you get into your opponent’s guard, the next position that you get into should be side control. When you are finally in side control, you have more opportunities to avoid your opponent’s attacks. Once you’re in side control, try to transition into a dominant position such as the mount or rear mount/back control. Keep in mind that while passing the guard and getting into the side control position aren’t too different, you’ll want to work on both skill sets separately. You can even ask coach for specific training.


The turtle position is when a practitioner pulls their neck and limbs close. The opponent may be behind the practitioner or on top of them.

 Basic Info About The Turtle

 A common defensive position, the turtle comes with many risks, but it can still be extremely effective. This common position is also versatile. You may choose to go into this position if you want to re-guard.


The mount is described as any position where a practitioner kneels over an opponent and straddles them.

 Basic Info About The Mount

This position is extremely powerful and dominant. Perhaps the best way to control your opponent is getting in the mount position. If your opponent ever has you in this position, you’ll still be able to escape. Although it can be challenging at times, don’t give up and improve your position.

 Knee On Belly

The knee on belly position is when a practitioner has one knee on their opponent’s belly. The practitioner’s other leg is generally far away from the opponent offering a good base.

Basic Info About Knee On Belly

When executed effectively, a knee on belly can be an incredible attack. The goal is to leave your opponent breathless and unable to escape. Whenever you’re in the side control or mount position, you may want to try outsmarting your component by pivoting to the knee on belly position. As you can probably imagine, a knee on the belly doesn’t feel good. If you execute this position correctly, your opponent can’t wait to escape.

Rear Mount/Back Control

The rear mount/back control position is when a practitioner takes control of their opponent by wrapping their legs around their back.

Basic Info About Rear Mount/Back Control

Rear mount is one of the many ways to choke your opponent. While real mount is a great way to choke your opponent, you may choose another position where the opponent won’t even be able to anticipate the attack.


 Basic Jiu Jitsu Movements



The bridge is when a practitioner lies on their back and explodes off the ground by lifting their hips.

Basic Info About Bridging

The bridge is an important movement in Jiu Jitsu. The primary goal of this movement is to make sure that you don’t get pinned on your back. Regardless of the position that you’re in, you never want to be pinned on your back. You want to work towards a defensive or offensive position. When you have a strong bridge, you’re able to be more mobile on your side. A strong bride will ultimately stop your opponent from getting back on top of you as well.


Often referred to as a hip escape, shrimping occurs when a practitioner is on their back. The movement allows them to create space, and many practitioners do this movement to prevent a guard pass or escape mount for example.

Basic Info About Shrimping

One of the most basic movements is shrimping. Despite common belief, you need shrimping and flexibility to have a strong guard. One acts as a means to get you in guard while the other increases your chances of success. If you shrimp successfully, your opponents will have a harder time keeping or working towards a dominant position. You’ll want to practice shrimping many times so that you can get comfortable creating space and establishing guard.


An escape is a type of movement to counter a position or submission.

Basic Info About Escapes

Many BJJ practitioners mistakenly believe that escapes aren’t as important as attacks, but escapes are extremely important. Even if you’re an expert practitioner, you need to know how to escape effectively. The reality is that you will be in a bad position or submission at some point. If you want to win the fight, you need to practice your escapes regularly. You don’t want to get to a competition and not know how to escape. Don’t forget that escapes are just as important as attacks.


A sweep is when a practitioner improves their position.

Basic Info About Sweeps

One of the reasons why a practitioner may sweep an opponent is to get them off balanced. The movement also offers many submissions opportunities. Sweeping from your back is not necessarily an easy movement to master. The key to mastering this movement is to thoroughly understand the movements of your opponent and “feel” their balance. Sweeps are versatile and regardless of the guard that you’re in, you should be able to sweep. Depending on your body type, you may find that certain types of sweeps are easier than others. For the best results, be sure to listen to your coach and practice sweeping over and over again.

Guard Passing

A guard pass is when a practitioner transitions into a better position.

Basic Info About Guard Passing

Here are the most effective ways to guard pass: Hybrid passing, pressure passing, and speed passing. Just make sure that you don’t do the same type of guard pass every time. If you repeat the same guard pass, your opponent will be able to predict your moves sooner or later.


A transition is just like it sounds. A practitioner “transitions” into another submission or position.

Basic Info About Transitions

The most successful practitioners know how to transition well. In order to be an extremely successful practitioner you should know how to transition from guards and submissions. With years and years of practice, you’ll be able to transition with ease. Just watch black belts fighting for inspiration, and study them closely. They have mastered the most effective ways to transition between the various positions.

Basic Jiu Jitsu Submissions



The triangle is when a practitioner traps an opponent’s neck and arm in between their legs. The submission looks like a triangle.

 Basic Info About The Triangle

If the move is done successfully, the practitioner will be able to choke their opponent. This is such an effective submission that an opponent is unlikely to get out of it without great effort.

 Arm Bar

Also known as the cross-arm lock, the arm bar is when a practitioner pulls an opponent’s arm and then places their legs across the opponent’s chest.

Basic Info About The Arm Bar

The arm bar is also an extremely effective submission because the isolated arm is completely immobilized. You can also easily switch to a triangle from this position.


The kimura is when a practitioner isolates an opponent’s shoulder and elbow joint.

Basic Info About Kimura

You can do this when you’re in a guard. You can also do it in almost any top position. When you’ve established this submission, you can also use it to perform sweeps.


An extremely powerful position, the guillotine is when a practitioner applies a choke to an opponent’s neck.

Basic Info About The Guillotine

You’ll have the most luck performing this position anytime your opponent extends their neck. Fun fact: Josh Hinger and Marcelo Garcia have mastered this submission. You may want to watch them fight to learn how to master this position yourself.


The Americana is also when a practitioner locks an opponent’s shoulders.

Basic Info About the Americana

The submission is extremely easy to execute. To successfully perform this submission, be sure to execute it when you’re in the side control or mount.

Rear Naked Choke

The rear naked choke is when a practitioner puts an arm under an opponent’s chin. The practitioner will perform this submission while their behind an opponent.

Basic Info About The Rear Naked Choke

You may hear of this submission sometimes referred to as the “mata leon.” In other words, “the lion killer.” When performing this submission, keep in mind that you don’t have to apply much pressure to an opponent’s neck.


When To Use These Basic Positions


Are you wondering when you should use these basic positions? At Fenix Highlanders Club BJJ we are here to help. If you’re a practitioner on top, one of the best positions to use is the mount. If you’re a practitioner on bottom, one of best positions to use is the closed guard. The neutral positions are half-guard position (top), guard position, and half-guard position (bottom).

 Do you want to learn more about the best time to use certain positions?

 Ready To Improve Your Basic Positions?

We encourage you to attend class regularly. You’ll be amazed by how far you’d come. If you are dedicated to improving these positions, you’ll even impress your coach. Wouldn’t that be great? Always remember that you’ll always be learning when you do Jiu Jitsu. As you start to improve your positions, you’ll notice many opportunities while fighting with your opponent. When you learn the positions above, you’ll have a solid foundation. While you are improving these positions, be sure to stay safe. You can ask your coach for safe training techniques because you don’t want to injure yourself while you’re becoming a champion.