6.4.11

BJJ / Grappling Tips: Ask the Right BJJ Questions


BJJ has many positions and geographies. If you are new to grappling, it will all seem like beautiful magic. Hopefully, that feeling will never fade away and you will stay enchanted by the Arte Suave, but to get better it is important to ask your self (and your instructor and coach) lots and lots of questions.

Is there such a thing as a bad (yet relevant) question? I personally don't think so.

What I do think, however, is that there are valid constraints on when a question should be asked and answered.



If a white belts asks: "how do I perform the heel hook from mount bottom?" it would be a waste of everyone's valuable mat time to say anything other than: "Firstly, let's work on not getting under the mount, how to stay safe when you do and how to safely and correctly escape the mount position."

What are the best questions to ask at BJJ?

I can only tell you what I believe are the best ones. Since I see the whole experience of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as an exercise in raising awareness, my questions directly reflect that:

1. I want to know what my number one priority is in each position.
2. I want to know where the best place is for my 13 points of contact (2 hands, 2 elbows, 2 shoulders, 2 hips, 2 knees, 2 feet and your head) in each position.

3. I want to know where my and my opponent's weight should be in relation to each other in each position.

4. I also want to know why these are the best answers. Once you understand the principles, you can later on see how variations of the moves can exist without violating the actual principles that drive them*

Look at this list** of BJJ positions and corresponding questions:


Your back is taken
What should your priority be here to stay safe? Where should you have your 13 points of contact? Where should your weight be to facilitate escape and deny your opponent leverage?
Mount Bottom
What should your priority be here to stay safe? Where should you have your 13 points of contact? Where should you get your opponent's weight to be to facilitate escape and deny him / her leverage?
Side Bottom
What should your priority be here? Where should you have your 13 points of contact? Where do you want your opponent's weight to be to facilitate escape and deny him / her leverage?

Half Guard Bottom
What should your priority be here? Where should you have your 13 points of contact? Where do you want your opponent's weight to be to facilitate escape / sweeping / taking the back and deny him / her leverage?

Guard Bottom
What should your priority be here? Where should you have your 13 points of contact? Where do you want your opponent's weight to be to facilitate escape to standing / sweeping / taking the back or submitting and deny him / her leverage to open the guard and pass?

Turtle Bottom
What should your priority be here? Where should you have your 13 points of contact? Where do you want your opponent's weight to be to facilitate escape to standing / sweeping / taking the back or pulling guard and deny him / her leverage to pass / take your back and / or submit?

Turtle Top
What should your priority be here? Where should you have your 13 points of contact? Where should your weight be to break them down / submit?
Guard Top
What should your priority be here? Where should you have your 13 points of contact? Where should your weight be prevent attacks, open the guard and pass?
Half Guard Top
What should your priority be here? Where should you have your 13 points of contact? Where should your weight be to pprevent escape and pass?
Side Control Top
What should your priority be here? Where should you have your 13 points of contact? Where should your weight be to keep the position / advance to mount / back or submit?
Mount Top
What should your priority be here? Where should you have your 13 points of contact? Where should your weight be to keep the mount / take the back / return to side control / submit?
On the opponent’s Back
What should your priority be here? Where should you have your 13 points of contact? Where should your weight be? How do you get the most leverage?


Grab a pen and a pad and see if you can answer these questions for every position. If not, make sure you ask your instructor next time you hear them say: "Questions?"

*Just to demonstrate how a BJJ / Grappling move can have variations that still maintain the same principles, have a look at the fundamental Scissor Sweep from guard. First, the typical method is demonstrated by Rodrigo Gracie and then a variation is demonstrated by Saulo Ribiero:






No go do your BJJ homework :)

**There are plenty more really good questions (how do you best generate momentum from this position? what are the most likely scenarios in this position? what are the most likely scenarios to preceed this position?...etc. but the above are a good start)

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10 comments:

graham cooke said...

Hi Liam,

Are you going to be doing a part 2 of this where you publish what your answers to the questions are? :)

The Part Time Grappler said...

Haha Graham that would be cheating!

Go ask your instructor :o) It'll make his day.

A.D. McClish said...

I want to cheat too!! Give us the answers! lol.

I am actually going to ask Fabio for a private on bottom turtle and on de la riva guard. In both of those positions, I have a hard time determining what my main objective should be. With both, I'm thinking sweep. But I want to learn how I should be moving in bottom turtle to stop people from squashing me like a bug when I am trying to escape bottom turtle.

The Part Time Grappler said...

@Allie, It warms my heart that you think that I have the answers :)

I'm still looking for most of them!

I look forward to reading your post-private post :)

Have you seen this before: http://www.grapplearts.com/De-la-Riva-Guard.html

graham cooke said...

I dont have an instructor, that's why I asked :)

The Part Time Grappler said...

Haha fair enough Graham. Worrying, though :)

Have you read my post: Concepts: The Least You Need To Do?

Megan said...

I think there's one class of questions that would fall under "bad yet relevant", and I've seen it across the board, yet not much in BJJ...and honestly it's more a person than a question.

Have you run across that person that's asking questions just to seem interested? Basically they're asking and not really looking for an answer.

The Part Time Grappler said...

Lol. Meg that's funny.

I don't judge, or at least try hard not to. The fact is someone asked a question. Why they do it is none of my business (at least that's how I see it)

They might ask a question to seem interested, but the question & answer may have a positive effect on someone else who was too shy to open their mouth :)

I do love, however, how you bring another social element to the topic. You just inspired another post :)

Megan said...

Woo! Glad I could contribute. People like the ones I mentioned...they're rare and it takes a while to notice what they're up to, but if you pay attention at work or watch new couples on a date, you'll see it.

The Part Time Grappler said...

Haha. Another people-watcher I see :)