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September 6, 2019

BJJ Terminology

Roxana Safipour

BJJ Terminology

When you first start practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you might feel overwhelmed by how much there is to learn! Learning the terminology is the first step to learning the art of BJJ. Here are a few important terms in the BJJ vocabulary:


The guard is one of the most fundamental positions in BJJ. Guard refers to any position where the practitioner is on their back on the mat and has their legs between themselves and their opponent. A good guard player can use their legs to control or attack their opponent. There are many types of guard, which you will learn about during your BJJ journey.

Passing the guard

If a practitioner successfully gets around the legs of their opponent’s guard and secures a top position, this is known as “passing the guard.”


Any time a practitioner who has the guard succeeds in tipping or knocking their opponent over and securing the top position, this is called a “sweep.” Sweeps are worth 2 points in competition.


A submission means putting your opponent in a position where they must admit defeat. There are generally two types of submissions: chokes and joint locks. A choke cuts off blood flow to the brain, forcing the opponent to tap out or risk losing consciousness. A joint lock is any move that begins to bend a joint in the wrong direction; of course a smart player will tap out to a joint lock before actually being injured!

Tapping Out

When trapped in a submission, the way to admit defeat is to “tap out.” This can be done by tapping with your hand on your opponent’s body, tapping your hand or foot on the mat, or verbally saying the word “tap.” We have a saying in BJJ: Tap early, and tap often. It is important to tap out when caught in a choke or joint lock in order to avoid injury. There’s no shame in tapping out.


Rolling refers to sparring in BJJ, where the two players try to control and submit each other in a live, unplanned setting.


A randori is an organized session in which students roll with each other in rounds. Students at Easton must have 2 stripes on their white belt to participate in randori sessions.


The gi, also called the kimono, is the traditional uniform of BJJ. It consists of loose pants, a durable kimono top, and a belt.

No Gi

In BJJ we also sometimes train without the gi. This is called “no gi.” You can wear regular athletic clothes to no gi sessions, but in order to avoid injuries, shirts should be made of fabric that clings to the body and shorts should not have pockets. Want more details? Click to learn more about the differences between gi and no gi.


When learning new moves, partners will take turns practicing on each other. The “uke” is the student who is allowing a partner to practice a technique on them. It is the uke’s job to be cooperative and not provide too much resistance, so their partner can successfully practice and learn the technique. However, a good uke is not a limp noodle!


The opposite of uke, the tori is the partner who is attacking when practicing a technique.


This term derives from Japanese, and the most literal translation is “Okay” or “As you wish.” When an instructor gives a student directions, the student often answers with “Oss.” More informally, “Oss” can also mean “cool” or “awesome,” especially on social media.


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