Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Vocabulary 1: Positions

Posted on Posted in FAQ, Jiujitsu Talk

What do all these terms mean?

I often have new practitioners ask about our terminology in class. In addition to new movements, ideas, goals, and fears; a multitude of new terms comes at us in rapid succession. Today, we are looking at the positions. You may find yourself on either side of every position. Everyone will always be learning new variations and sub positions, but these make up a foundation.

Open Guard

The bottom player is facing the top player. From here, both hands and feet are available for use. The top player can be either standing or on his knees.

Variations: Spider Guard, De La Riva, Reverse De La Riva, Butterfly Guard, X Guard, Single leg X, Scissor Guard, Inverted Guard, Worm Guard, pick an animal and it probably has an open guard.

Open Guard

Closed Guard

The bottom player has both legs wrapped around top player’s torso, who is usually on his knees.

Variations: High Guard, Rubber Guard.

Closed Guard

1/2 Guard

Here, the bottom player has both legs wrapped around one of the top player’s legs.

Variations: Lockdown, Knee Shield, Deep Half.

Half Guard

Turtle

In this situation, the bottom player is on all fours.

Turtle

Side Control

The top player has successfully passed both legs, and secured control from a 90° angle. Also, the bottom player is flat on his back.

Also called: Cross Side, Side Mount, Kesa Gatame.

Variations: Scarf Hold, Scarf Hold w/ under hook, Reverse Scarf Hold.

Side Control

North/South

Here, the top player controls in a way similar to side control. Instead of being at a 90° angle, the spines are aligned.

North South

Knee on Belly

After the top player passes the legs, placing the hip side knee on the belly offers both strategic and point benefits. The head side knee is off the ground, ideally pointing up.

Knee on Belly

Mount

The top player has not only passed the legs, but is straddling the torso with both knees on the ground.

Variations: S-Mount, High Mount, Low Mount, Technical Mount.

Mount

Back Control

Here, the top player is on the opponent’s back with both heels on the inside of the hips.

Variations: The Truck, Crucifix.

Back Control

50/50

Both players are seated facing each other, with a figure 4 on each other’s legs.

50/50

Now that we have covered the basics, remember that Bjj is always growing and changing. When we learn an unfamiliar term, it can be placed near one of these positions for reference.