Earning your blue belt is one of the biggest challenges of learning jiu-jitsu. It indicates dedication, grit, and a solid understanding of grappling fundamentals. If you’re testing for yours soon, you might wonder which skills or knowledge you need to possess.
Here are 7 things that every jiu-jitsu blue belt should know:
- Jiu-jitsu vocabulary
- Major positions
- At least three takedowns
- Submissions from different positions
- The art of grip fighting
- Escape and defense
- Effective cardio management
Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of these standard requirements. That way, you’ll be ready to wear that blue belt confidently when the time comes.
1. Jiu-Jitsu Vocabulary
Knowing the lingo of jiu-jitsu is crucial for blue belts. Otherwise, you won’t know what your coach means when they yell “upa” or “arm drag” at your next tournament.
Just like mechanics know all sorts of technical terms only other mechanics know, jiu-jitsu has its own unique terminology. By knowing it, you can better understand instructions and pick up new skills quicker.
Plus, as a blue belt, it’s expected that you can identify the fundamental moves of jiu-jitsu. Not just how to execute them.
Watching BJJ tournaments is an excellent way to make sure you’re up on your lingo. Commentators not only utilize the terms but often explain it for non-practitioners.
2. Major Positions
Do you know your half-guard from your closed guard?
Before earning their blue belt, white belts should have a firm grasp on jiu-jitsu positions.
The key positions you should know the basics of are:
- Guard (closed, open, half-guard)
- Back mount
- Knee on Belly (KoB)
- Side control
You should understand the purpose each serves in grappling. And how to avoid the mistakes that beginners make in them.
Learning jiu-jitsu is as much about knowing what you should do as what you shouldn’t do. Knowing the common pitfalls of these techniques (and how to avoid them) is what separates blue belts from white belts.
3. At Least Three Takedowns
Blue belts ought to be confident with a few different takedowns. However, you want to stick to the basics first instead of trying to master your Imanari roll.
For example, some of the fundamental takedowns (or throws) for blue belts to know are:
- Double-leg takedown
- Single-leg takedown
- Ankle pick
- Uchi Mata
- Foot sweep
- Body lock takedown
Since jiu-jitsu is a grappling martial art, getting to the ground is a vital skill for blue belts. Otherwise, there’s not much opportunity to use any of the skills you learned.
4. Submissions From Different Positions
Beyond getting their opponents to the ground, blue belts should also know several submissions.
It’s not enough to just know how to do chokes from the back mount, either. Your repertoire ought to vary in terms of which body parts you can attack and from what position as well.
Some standard techniques that most academies expect blue belts to know include:
- Rear-naked choke
- Kimura (from guard and side control)
- Triangle choke
- Guillotine (from mount or closed guard)
5. The Art of Grip Fighting
Many people new to BJJ are surprised at how critical grip fighting is. Getting the upper hand in grip placement gives you the control to execute takedowns or escape positions.
Knowing how to fend off your opponent’s hands and where to place yours is necessary for blue belts. Many submissions and movements will be nearly impossible to execute without grip control.
If you find good placement but aren’t strong enough, try working out your lower arm and hand more. This N\A Grip Strength Trainer, available on Amazon, can effectively beef up grip power.
6. Escape and Defense
In the words of Royce Gracie, BJJ is the art of not getting hit.
In jiu-jitsu, your first focus should be on defending yourself. Getting out of bad positions is just as important as maintaining advantageous ones.
Understanding how to escape from positions is crucial for blue belts to know. Furthermore, you ought to be able to repel submission attempts from other practitioners at your level.
Learning how to protect yourself can also help you offensively. You’ll be better at preempting your opponents’ defensive maneuvers and countering them.
7. Effective Cardio Management
Being a blue belt isn’t just about technique!
Physical conditioning is an integral part of BJJ. After all, it doesn’t matter what you know how to do if you don’t have the energy to do it.
Grappling burns energy faster than almost any other physical activity. While you don’t need to run marathons, blue belts should ensure that their conditioning is up to par.
Ideally, you want to be able to make it through half an hour of sparring without gassing out. If you’re struggling to do so, try incorporating some aerobics into days you’re not at the dojo.