Jiu-Jitsu Exercises


Brazilian jiu-jitsu was made famous in the 1990s when Royce Gracie used his savvy submission techniques to win the Ultimate Fighting Championship tournament. Since there were no rules and no weight classes in the UFC at the time, Gracie's dominance showed how effective jiu-jitsu can be against larger opponents. Your approach to jiu-jitsu training should always emphasize technique over strength, but there are several drills and exercises you can do to get yourself more comfortable in grappling situations.

Positional Drills

  • Jiu-jitsu trainers stress the importance of position before submission. Before you can win a grappling match, you need to get yourself in a good position, either offensively of defensively. Drills to help you get comfortable with grappling positions include shrimping or butt scoot drills, rolling over your shoulder and kicking your heels over your head to prepare for someone dominating you positionally from the top.

Jiu-Jitsu Chess Drill

  • Sometimes students can be so overwhelmed with the physicality of live grappling situations that all of their techniques fly out the window. A chess drill will help you relax, preparing you to think logically through various positions to choose the best means of advancement or escape. With a partner, take turns initiating one small advancement of position, freezing after each advance so your partner can adjust and counter.

Free Roll

  • The most enjoyable aspect of jiu-jitsu class for some is the most intimidating for others. Free rolling involves timed sparring matches where students face off in a live grappling situation, attempting to gain dominant positions and secure submission holds. Live rolls can be intense, but you're unlikely to be able to pull off your techniques in a real situation until you can pull them off under the stress of a free roll.


  • Like any contact sport, jiu-jitsu comes with risks. Scrapes, scratches and bruises are a common occurrence in grappling classes. Severe injuries such as tendon, ligament and joint damage are rare, but possible. Make sure you warm up properly before class and don't roll with students you don't trust. Always have a qualified instructor present before grappling and consult your physician if you're unsure whether or not training could be too much for you.

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