Brazilian Jiu jitsu (commonly known BJJ) made a name for itself on the world stage after the first Ultimate Fighting Championship in 1993, where a skinny Royce Gracie defeated three bigger and stronger opponents using only the techniques of the art taught to him by his father, Helio Gracie.

It seemed like the promise of martial arts – that a weaker person could beat a stronger one – had finally been fulfilled. Since then BJJ has grown at an astounding rate, stepping out of the shadow of mixed martial arts, with pure BJJ competitions becoming increasingly popular all over the world, drawing pay-per-view audiences and high-level athletes.

BJJ Brazilian jiu jitsu kung fu techniques

While BJJ is known for its groundwork (which puts off a lot of people who are more interested in self-defence) it does contain a lot of standing locking and throwing techniques that are very similar to those found in Chinese martial arts like Kung Fu, Taijiquan and Shuai Jiao (Chinese wrestling). What’s more, these standing techniques don’t require you to go to the ground afterwards, if you don’t want to. It therefore makes sense for a student of these Chinese arts to study the standing techniques of BJJ, to see how it applies them and what the differences are.

So, here are the 5 standing BJJ techniques that we think are worth your time investigating:

5 Top BJJ Techniques

  1. The Foot Sweep (Ashi Haria)

The foot sweep is a bread-and-butter technique in Chinese martial arts, especially in Shuai Jiao, and it’s used just as often in BJJ in competition. In its simplest application it involves blocking your opponent’s foot, or shin, with your foot while turning their upper body, so they fall. Of course, grappling arts make use of a Gi, or jacket, which makes the foot sweep easier to accomplish, however, a good foot sweep is often simply down to correct timing. In Yang style Taijiquan the sequence known as ‘Turn body to swing over lotus’ is the most transferable to footsweeps and it’s a simple matter to make the necessary adaptations shown in this foot sweep tutorial:

  1. The Shoulder Throw (Ippon Seonage)

The shoulder throw is a classic technique from Judo and Shuai Jiao, but it also appears in BJJ, where a good shoulder throw can be the perfect setup to a match-winning armbar. In Kung Fu styles you often see the shoulder throw taught as a response to a grab around the neck from behind. In grappling styles you learn to use the move on somebody standing in front of you, by making an entry, then turning your back on them. It’s worth mentioning that you’ll find the entry movements are very similar to the moves just before ‘Brush knee twist step’ in Yang style Taiji, and that the movement could be easily modified into a shoulder throw by bending at the waist afterwards. Take a look:

  1. The Standing Armbar (Ude Gatame)

Chinese martial arts apply several standing armlocks under the banner of Chin Na (locking and seizing techniques), from all angles and positions. While BJJ has countless armlocks in its ground positions there are relatively few standing arm locks taught in a typical class, but one really effective technique that is taught is called Ude Gatame in Japanese, and it involves hyperextending the elbow joint in response to a lapel grab.  Here’s how it works:

And here you can see it’s use in a Judo competition, resulting in an injury, which shows how dangerous the technique can be:

  1. The Jacare Wrist Lock

Locking the wrist joint is a great set up to throws or takedowns and has become a staple of many Kung Fu styles due to its effectiveness in self-defence situations. The wrist lock is often frowned upon by some BJJ practitioners due to the high rates of injury that result from its use in competition, but that only serves to emphasise its effectiveness.

One particular wrist lock found in BJJ that you might not have seen before is named after Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, a famous BJJ practitioner who used it effectively in competition. It’s great as a response to somebody grabbing your shirt:

And here’s Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza using it to finish a match very quickly:

  1. Hips Throw (O Goshi)

We can’t finish without mentioning the hip throw. The hip throw is a great throw to have in your arsenal for a self defense situation where the attacker is throwing big wide hooks at your head. It’s very easy to block then, clinch up and then perform a hip throw. In fact, Ronda Rousey had made a career in the UFC out of this very tactic. Here’s BJJ Black belt Kit Dale showing how it’s done:

And here is a great video showing how to adapt the hip throw to situations without a gi:

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