BJJ Fundamentals: Jiu Jitsu Concepts, Theories and Techniques Explained

BJJ Fundamentals: Jiu Jitsu Concepts, Theories and Techniques Explained

BJJ Fundamentals: Jiu Jitsu Concepts, Theories and Techniques Explained


The term bjj fundamentals gets thrown around a lot, and there seems to be some confusion about the differences between the terms bjj concepts, bjj theories, and bjj techniques. 

A solid understanding of the fundamentals is a necessary step on the way to mastering any activity. But some grapplers get ahead of themselves and want to learn more complicated and flashy techniques before they’ve mastered the basics. 

How are you going to berimbolo/crab-ride/inverted-matrix/upside-down-backflip when you don’t even have a firm grasp on guard retention yet?! 

The aim of this article is to explain the unique features of each of the following terms:

  • Bjj Concepts
  • Bjj Theories
  • Bjj Techniques 

Likewise, this article will explain why it’s so important to differentiate each term from the others, and how those terms contribute to having a strong set of bjj fundamentals. 

Why Is It Important to Have Strong BJJ Fundamentals?

The language example is very popular in the bjj community when explaining how a white belt progresses to become a black belt. At first, a new grappler learns the letters of the alphabet. From here, words can be formed, leading into sentences and eventually fully formed dialogue with another person. 

The better you can understand and manipulate a language, the more accurately you can express yourself. This process of acquiring language is supposed to represent the incremental learning that occurs in bjj training, and works great for the purpose of explaining why bjj fundamentals are so valuable. 

Imagine you want to write a poem using a new language you are learning. How will you convey a deeper message through your words if you don’t have a full vocabulary, let alone if you don’t understand basic sentence structure? 

Let’s take it one step further. 

Imagine you’re in a rap battle in that same new language. How will you insult the other rapper if your sentences contain errors of grammar and syntax? You’ll get laughed off stage before your words can have any effect on your opponent. 

And the same thing is true for bjj fundamentals. You won’t even get into the proper position to land a fancy move if your fundamentals are off.  

Here are some key terms that will help you navigate your way through mastering the bjj fundamentals that you need to be a successful grappler. 

BJJ Concepts Explained

What’s a bjj concept? 

Well, the word concept is basically just a fancy way of saying idea. These are usually more abstract and harder to define, but are also the most effective way of developing your ground game and your overall grappling IQ. 

Although most believe that techniques are the building blocks of bjj fundamentals, concepts are arguably more important, as they allow the grappler to take a step back and identify the main elements that make the techniques and theories valid. 

Being familiar with a few concepts will unlock many theories and techniques, and these should be the starting points for optimal bjj learning. 

Examples of BJJ Concepts

When attempting to pass someone’s guard, adhering to certain key concepts will make every technique much easier to perform. 

Having a solid base, timely posture, and good pressure are all bjj concepts that will improve the chances of you having success with your guard passes. 

BJJ Theory Explained

What’s a bjj theory?

A theory is a group of linked ideas that is usually used to explain a relationship between variables. Basically, a theory is made up of a statement like this: 

  • If _____________, then _______________. 

Theories are very helpful for guiding your actions and decisions on the mats, even when they don’t pertain to a specific technique. 

Similar to concepts, understanding bjj theory will in turn improve your working knowledge of many different techniques. A holistic understanding of grappling like this is sure to skyrocket anyone’s bjj progression. 

Examples of BJJ Theory

“Where the head goes, the body follows.”

This is a theory commonly used in jiu jitsu and wrestling. When defending a takedown, a cross-face is a reliable tool that turns the opponent’s head away from your own body. Because the opponent is looking in the other direction, they won’t be able to apply force towards you, and the takedown will be easier to defend.    

A cross-face is just a tool – it is the theory, or principle, that is actually giving you success on the mats. Studying and understanding bjj theory allows grapplers to make smart decisions in the moment that aren’t based on rigid sets of techniques, but instead on a deeper comprehension of the cause and effect of different movements and positions. 

BJJ Technique Explained

What’s a bjj technique? 

A technique can be defined as a skillful way of doing something. Most new grapplers try to build their bjj fundamentals by collecting a bunch of techniques and jamming them into a seemingly ordered strategy. Unfortunately, that approach won’t get you very far against an experienced opponent.  

Techniques are the words that make up your sentences. But as we mentioned earlier, a jumble of words doesn’t mean anything without proper structure and intent. That being said, bjj techniques are only effective when they come along with an understanding of the related concepts and theory. 

Examples of BJJ Technique

There are two kinds of bjj techniques: specific and general. 

A specific technique can be something like an X-pass, a De la Riva sweep, or an inverted heel hook. 

A general technique can be something more movement based, like a hip heist or technical get up, a bridge, or a front roll. 

How Can I Get Started?

How can you use this information about bjj fundamentals to actually improve your ground game? 

Well, a deeper understanding of bjj fundamentals means that you have a grasp on all the elements that make up the various positions, movements, and transitions you’ll encounter on the mats. You now understand why a technique is not working, and you can make the necessary changes in order to have success.  

This newfound approach to bjj fundamentals means that you’ll be able to analyze your game with ease (click here to read our article on how to analye your bjj game to improve quicker at jiu jitsu). 

Likewise, you’ll be able to start developing strategies and building habits by using tools like bjj flowcharts to organize your learnings

Having a proper understanding of bjj fundamentals means more than just knowing how to escape from a few bad positions and land a few quick submissions (unfortunately, the guy who “trains UFC” knows how to slap on a sloppy guillotine too – sorry!)

That being said, we strongly recommend checking out Corey Guitard’s latest instructional DVD, Foundations of Nogi Grappling: Theories & Concepts. It’s clear, concise, affordable, and presented in a unique way that can help anyone reach a deeper understanding of bjj.

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