Editor’s Note: This piece of expert content was contributed by longtime mixed martial arts competitor and coach certified by the International MMA Federation, Miguel Antonio Ordoñez. The following is presented for educational and entertainment purposes only. Don’t go out and try these moves for yourself without first receiving extensive professional training. – GDM
‘A creative, gentle, and artful way of taking somebody’s life with your bare hands.’ That’s how I’d describe sport Jiu-Jitsu and its concepts, and that’s no exaggeration.
You can say the same thing about sport jiu-jitsu and its various forms. For the uninformed, they only see people in pajamas rolling on a matted floor, sweating all over each other’s faces. Fair enough.
But when used correctly, they could get you out of a sticky situation. It’s all about picking out the appropriate weapons from your arsenal. And, more importantly, using them at the right time.
Practical Sport Jiu-Jitsu Techniques
Not all sport jiu-jitsu techniques will work outside the gym, so we’ve picked those that would. Here they are.
Front Headlock Chokes
This one’s a personal favorite. People open themselves up to front headlock chokes when they lazily try to tackle you to the ground. In a sport scenario, it’s a wrestling move called the double-leg takedown.
It looks simple, but it has a lot of moving parts. What you see below is a guillotine choke. The goal is to choke the other person out using your bicep and rib.
You have the perfect strangulation if positioned right on the carotid arteries on each side of the neck. A firm squeeze momentarily impedes blood flow to the brain, cutting the circuits off. You fall asleep within the next seven seconds.
Now here come the caveats—big ones. First, guillotine chokes in sport jiu-jitsu involve being on the mat. Being on the ground with both arms preoccupied is never advisable in a street setting. That will open you up to easy head stomps from three other companions. The streets are lawless. People fight dirty.
But if you must choke someone out with a guillotine, ensure no one’s there to intervene. And, do it standing.
Thanks to the Gracie family of Brazil, we’ve all been reminded of how the legs are much stronger than the arms. And if you can choke someone out with both arms, imagine what those lower, more muscular limbs could do.
The triangle is a variation of an arm-in choke. Now, you have the other person’s arm blocking one carotid artery. You fill the void with your leg draped across their shoulder, your inner thigh blocking the other carotid artery.
Your other leg is the lock to the choke, pulling the choking leg down. The strangle tightens further when you squeeze your knees together. Once the person being choked feels like their eyes are about to pop out of their head, they tap.
Triangle chokes involve being on the ground; depending on the situation, it’s not always as bad. Check out the example below.
That’s Monique Bastos, a pro-MMA fighter out of Brazil. Reports say the individual accosted her while she was going to jiu-jitsu class.
Whether true or not, our guy here isn’t getting seriously hurt. He’s merely being subdued until authorities arrive. But that’s not a fun time, either.
This is a nasty one when done perfectly. The goal of the armbar is to break a person’s arm by hyperextending it. You’re forcing the joint in the opposite direction, snapping it in half.
In this particular armbar variation, the elbow sits right above the pelvis. Squeezing the knees together tightens the lock. You finish it by thrusting upwards and pulling their wrist towards your chest.
Combining it with the triangle (and a few elbow strikes to the temple) produces nastier results.
Like with the triangle, the armbar works to subdue an undesirable. But with this one, you’ll likely take a limb home. Like the story above, this video shows a female jiu-jitsu practitioner stopping an alleged thief. Those right here are screams of agony.
The name itself should give you an idea of what to expect. The move involves planting your knee on their ribs and dropping all your body weight on one spot as they lay on their back. The bony part of the shin aims to pierce through the other ribs.
What follows is a crushing pain that causes instant panic and debilitation. It’s a menace to deal with.
In a sports scenario, the knee-on-belly is a transitional position you hold for three seconds, max. Trained individuals know the basic escape pattern, and staying there for too long ultimately ends in you losing the position.
But you can hold for as long as needed against someone with zero knowledge about knee-on-belly defense. It’s a technique usually meant to hold an individual down if the situation calls for it.
You’ve likely seen this move in playground fights back in middle school. One person sits on the other person’s chest and starts raining down slaps or punches. In martial arts, it’s called a full mount.
If the idea of scraping your knees isn’t something you fancy, this move isn’t for you. But if you must hold down an individual, this is a likewise effective method.
This is former UFC champion and Hall of Famer Matt Serra. As the story goes, the incident happened at a bar in Las Vegas on the eve of his induction ceremony in 2018. The other individual, supposedly inebriated, allegedly acted belligerently toward the staff.
In his account, Serra said the unnamed man turned his attention to him, prompting self-defense. But the now-retired fighter and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor threw zero strikes.
Serra planted all his weight on the man’s chest, warded off attempts to slap and scratch, and told him to calm down. Harmless and practical, yeah?
In jiu-jitsu getting inside position means you’re golden. You’ve taken away much of the other person’s leverage, putting yourself at an advantage.
Let’s explain what the inside position is. It’s the inner regions of the torso, arms, and legs. For context, the outside position is the outer biceps and forearms. The latter focuses on creating barriers between you and the opponent, otherwise known as framing.
But as far as control goes, the torso comprises the most extensive part and, therefore, should be focused on. Think of it like a car seatbelt. The strap goes through the inside space between the ear, neck, and shoulder and the distance between the opposite hip and armpit, ultimately providing adequate control.
That’s what happened in the video below. It took place in 2011 in Baguio City, Philippines. Long story short, the losing fighter wasn’t satisfied with the stoppage, so he went on and attacked the referee.
The official calmly handled him by closing the distance using a body lock en route to an easy takedown as all hell broke loose. The event promoter eventually stepped in and placed the hostile individual in a rear-naked choke. Fun times.
All the chaos aside, it’s a classic example of how establishing an inside position works well outside the realm of sports and rules.
Make Your Sport Jiu-Jitsu Techniques Work For You
As mentioned in a previous piece, it all comes down to having a proper mindset. Martial arts techniques can work in a street scenario if you approach the situation intending to be practical and methodical. Make these weapons work for you, not the other way around.
As someone who has been doing this for almost a decade, here’s some unsolicited advice: get yourself used to techniques that will work in sports and real life. Sure, you can learn the fancy stuff, but don’t let your entire game revolve around them.
Most importantly, go out there and train. It will be an ego-bruising, sometimes even demoralizing experience, but it happens to the best of us.