Damo BJJ blog

Fundamentals of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

One thing I consistently notice when training with different Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) coaches and instructors, is that everyone has a different opinion of what techniques are considered fundamental. It got me thinking about the idea of fundamental positions vs fundamental techniques, which really made sense to me.

I recently started using this concept while teaching, to help beginners learn and understand BJJ more intuitively.

Fundamental positions like closed guard, open guard, side control, mount, and back control are positions we encounter in every roll, and in most cases are easily recognisable for either person in the fight, or even a spectator. With this recognition of the position, we can use this as a sort of a cue to then get people thinking about the techniques they should be doing, and better understanding the situation that they are in.

As for the fundamental techniques, I honestly do not believe there are any. Techniques vary too much from gym to gym because they’re often based on what that instructor feels comfortable teaching and showing. This is either because they have a particular type of strong game, or they teach how they were taught when they were learning.

This of course leads me into the whole berimbolo debate – specifically, where we see a lot of people complaining about white belts learning berimbolo before other ‘fundamental’ techniques.

I never quite understood this argument. The berimbolo itself isn’t too complex, and its pretty easy to grasp which situations to use it in. In this sense it’s no different than any other technique. As long as students understand this, I don’t see an issue in teaching it as a fundamental. If they struggle to understand it, they can try other techniques to achieve the same result.

The same rules apply for every other technique. There is always a situation associated with it, and it’s followed by a reaction or lack of a reaction. Once people understand this it will help them use it in sparring.

Essentially, regardless of the technique shown and weather you consider it to be fundamental or not, I think its important to link these with positions and situations, to help people understand and recognise when its appropriate to use the techniques they’ve been taught.