What are the best bjj submissions for beginners?
When you start brazilian jiu jitsu there is a lot to digest and its even harder when youre constantly being bow and arrow choked by that tall 16 year old.
In a survey performed at my gym, the best bjj submissions for beginners are rear naked choke, triangle, kimura, armbar, guillotine, and arm triangle choke.
I get it the first couple months of bjj can be rough, and honestly, it gets easier. You will learn how to grit things out and just show up and that’s what is is about in the beginning – just showing up and learning what you can.
If you can learn some beginner submissions along the way and have some success during sparring you will be all the more motivated to show up and learn.
Best BJJ Submissions for Beginners – Key Takeaways
The best submissions for beginners should:
- be easy to understand and apply
- have high percentage finish rate*
- be seen performed frequently and successfully at the highest level of competition
When you start Brazilian jiu jitsu, once you learn the basics of a submission, you can then learn the fundamentals and details behind why it works. From there you can learn:
- setups to that submissions
- counters to the most common defenses
- submissions or sweeps from that position (if the submission fails)
Finally, you don’t want to put all your time into learning a submission that doesn’t work at the highest levels of competition. (Yes, that flashy move you saw on instragram looks slick, but how often is it hit at ADCC?)
Here is a video of me winning my first ever competition – this was hugely motivating for me to continue training jiu jitsu. I actually hit one of my favorite beginner submission as well, the triangle:
It is a widely held belief that beginners should only focus on escaping and guard retention since they will often be stuck in bad positions for the first couple months.
However, there will be times when a beginner will spar against another beginner, and it’s during these scenarios that it is good to have a couple of basic submissions.
Plus it just feels good to get submissions especially during the early months of training.
Effectively performing submissions against a peer at your skill level and experience can be a huge motivator in continuing to learn jiu jitsu basics and push through those first couple months.
Here is a chart breaking down some of the best bjj submissions (based on input from my training partners and teamates):
Jiu Jitsu Basics
Jiu jitsu basics revolve around gaining a general understanding of positions, techniques, and submissions.
Although jiu jitsu basics may not be the most exciting to learn, these are techniques that will likely be effective during your entire jiu jitsu journey.
Solid fundamentals have been proven time and time again to work at the highest level of bjj competitions.
Jiu jitsu basics often revolve around positional dominance over submission.
Knowing how to effectively sweep, pass, and pin your opponent displays much more knowledge and understanding of jiu jitsu than merely attempting to throw up that flashy submission you saw on instagram.
The best general items for what you should learn first at the start of your jiu jitsu training is:
However, during this growth through the jiu jitsu basics, being aware of several submissions will likely prove extremely valuable and motivating.
Choosing The Best Submissions For Beginners
White belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) are constantly looking for the best submissions to add to their arsenal. But with so many options out there, it can be hard to know where to start.
The good news is that there are some tried and tested submissions that any beginner can use to great effect and continue to perfect throuhgout their jiu jitsu journey.
The triangle choke is probably the most famous submission out there and one of the easiest for a white belt to learn.
It’s an incredibly versatile move that works from both guard and half guard positions, making it useful in almost any situation. For a white belt, this is a great place to start as it’s easy to learn, effective and suitable for almost any body type. (Especialy for those who don’t have wrestling experience and longer limbs – like myself 🙂 )
2. Another great submission for beginners is the arm bar from the mount position.
This move requires you to have strong grips on your opponent’s arms and a bit of flexibility too, which makes it ideal for those just starting out in BJJ. Once mastered, this submission will become an invaluable tool in your BJJ arsenal.
Once you learn to properly control and maintain the mount learning the armbar should be your next goal.
Finally, don’t forget about no-gi training when it comes to choosing your submissions.
In no-gi BJJ you won’t have the same grips available as you do when wearing a gi, so knowing how to apply chokes without one is essential if you want to excel at no-gi tournaments or classes. Don’t be afraid of experimenting with different moves until you find what works best for you.
Some submissions and their mechanics will just feel more natural for you so feel free to explore ones that you connect with the most.
Bjj submissions for beginners explained
Here are the images and breakdowns for the best bjj submissions for beginners.
Each image shown with:
- a short description
- offensive goals
- defensive goals
- the positions where these submissions most likely occur
1. Rear Naked Choke
Description: arms are used to strangle opponent from behind
Offensive Goals: reaching one arm across opponent’s throat and into the pit of your other arm which is then brought behind their neck
Defensive Goals: keeping control of opponent’s hands to avoid them moving across exposed neck
Positions: back mount
Description: legs are used to strangle opponent. this is achieved by locking your leg over their head and under the pit of your other leg and keeping one arm inside this lock.
The trianlge is a perfection submission for beginners to learn since it teaches the fundamentals of angle, leverage, and pressure.
The choke is finished by attaching the pit of your leg to one side of their neck and their shoulder applying pressure to the other side of their neck.
Offensive Goals: in order to finish the triangle effectively, you must confirm that there is strong connection of the pit of your knee to the side of their neck, and you are turned in a perpendicular angle and crunching your body in
Defensive Goals: maintain upright posture and work toward getting other arm back inside the lock or turning entire body to face the leg of your opponent that is attached to your exposed neck
Positions: full guard, mount, side control, rear mount
Description: arms are used in an interlocking manor in a T-shape with straightened arm grabbing opponent’s wrist and your other hand grabbing your own wrist
Offensive Goals: to continue raising opponent’s elbow off the mat by raising your own elbow/shoulder and forcing their wrist to rotate beyond the line of their torso
Defensive Goals: to bring your elbow back inside the line of their elbow and free your arm. This can also be done by using your legs or other arm to assist in breaking their grip
Positions: full guard, half guard, top side control, dorsal position
Description: using your legs to control your opponent’s upper body, then hyper extending their arm with both of your hands on their wrist and with their arm placed across your hip bone
Offensive Goals: keep their thumb pointed up toward the sky to limit escape attempts, keep pressure of legs both down and squeezed together while extending your hips up
Defensive Goals: to escape by either freeing your elbow line from their hip, scissoring your legs to get upright, or rotating your arm with your thumb pointing toward your head followed by your body (known as the hitchhiker escape)
Positions: mount, side control, back mount, full guard
Description: using one of your arms to wrap around your opponent’s head/neck with your forearm on their throat and crunching your body in to bring their head toward their chest.
This can be done with one arm, both arms in a high guillotine position, low guillotine position or with both their head and arm wrapped with your arms
Offensive Goals: to connect your forearm to their throat and pull in slightly while crunching your body down to bring their chin toward their chest
Defensive Goals: avoid letting your head drift to the outside of their body by keeping it centered on their torso, using your hands to avoid letting them get connection to your neck and avoid letting them connect their hands
Positions: full guard, half guard, mount
Description: both of your arms are used to wrap around your opponent’s head and arm.
Strangulation is achieved on one side through connection of the pit of your elbow to the side of their neck and on the other side by connecting their shoulder and bicep to their neck.
This is reinforced by your grip and your head pressure.
Offensive Goals: keep strong connection of pit of elbow to the side of their neck, make sure you are low enough to have your arm underneath their chin, and maintain a good base with your far leg and outside elbow
Defensive Goals: avoid letting your opponent raise your elbow above your shoulder line and fight to drive your trapped arm’s elbow up and over their head to escape the choke
Positions: mount, full guard
Other Submissions That You May Learn in the Beginning of BJJ:
The Americana is a fundamental submission move for white belt BJJ practitioners. It’s a versatile, simple move that can be used from almost any position, making it perfect for beginners to learn.
For some reason its also somone one of the prefered submissions by all your +200 training partners…
To perform the Americana, you’ll need to secure an armlock on your opponent by gripping their wrist and elbow with both of your hands.
You’ll then rotate your body in order to apply pressure to their shoulder joint and force them into submission.
As a white belt grappler, the Americana is an essential move to have in your arsenal.
It’s easy to learn and can be used against opponents most easily from:
- half guard
- side control
Plus, because it doesn’t require a lot of flexibility or strength, you don’t have to worry about whether or not your body type will inhibit you from performing this move successfully.
The one tip, I can give is to perform this move slowing in drilling and sparring. Although, you may think it comes on slowly no one wants to deal with a shoulder injury.
Straight Ankle Lock
The straight ankle lock is a great way to get your opponent to submit, as it’s an effective leg lock that can be performed from almost any position when transitioning to the legs.
It’s also known as the “foot lock” because you’ll need to wrap your arms around your opponent’s foot in order to apply pressure and force them into submission.
Its also one of the few leg lock based submissions that are allowed at the white belt competition level.
This move is an excellent choice for beginners since it doesn’t require a lot of flexibility or strength, but it does require good technique and timing.
You’ll need to set up the move perfectly by wrapping your arms tightly around your opponent’s foot with your wrist bone just beneath their heel and then leaning back slowly to increase pressure on their ankle joint.
The D’arce choke is an incredibly powerful no gi BJJ submission. It’s one of the most effective chokes in the sport, and it can be used from a variety of positions.
To execute the D’arce choke, you’ll need to start by wrapping your arms around your opponent’s head and one of their arms.
From there, you’ll want to place one hand inside the pit of your help (that is behind their head).
To implement the finish, you’ll need to:
- pull your arms tight to your body
- push your chest out (and into the head)
Though mastering this move can take some practice, it’s definitely worth the effort if you’re looking for an effective way to finish off a match.
Bow and Arrow choke
The Bow and Arrow choke is a powerful Gi based BJJ submission that can be used from a variety of positions.
It relies on you controlling the collar and pant leg of your opponent’s gi to tighten and finish the strangle.
To execute this move, you’ll need to be on their back with both of you laying on your side:
- first, reach for a cross collar grip with your bottom hand
- next, grab their pant leg by their ankle and pull both grips as you stretch your opponent and perform the strangle.
Though mastering this move can take some practice, it’s definitely worth the effort if you spend a lot of time training in the gi.
Bjj beginner sparring
As said earlier most of your time will be spent rolling with opponents that have more experience, but when considering bjj beginner sparring below are a few key things to note that will help your sparring go smoother and help you land some of those beginner submissions:
Try to calm down and move slower with purpose
It is very easy to let adrenaline take hold and forget to breathe and exert an extreme amount of effort during your first experiences with bjj beginner sparring.
Focusing on breathing properly and moving slower will enable you to gain more insight and better analyze your sparring sessions.
You are able to think more clearly about your goals in certain positions and your next move if you can try to remain calm
In a similar vein, it’s important to not try to muscle out of submissions or positions
Jiu jitsu is made to control a resisting opponent. Trying to rely solely on strength and athleticism will not only prove futile but may lend itself to you losing more rounds especially during the early months of training.
I know it’s difficult, but try to analyze what went wrong or right in your live sparring
While there may seem to be an abundant amount of techniques that you don’t know, try to focus on what you do know.
Try to figure out how they passed your guard exactly, what mistakes you may have made, and what you did right to land that jiu jitsu submission.
Bjj beginner sparring can be anxiety inducing, exhilarating, and ego destroying in the first couple months of training, but by focusing on these couple tips you can get more from them and have a better experience overall.
Which bjj submission is most effective?
While it may be argued which bjj submission is most effective, the rear naked choke has been proven time and time again to be the most high percentage across both brazilian jiu jitsu and mixed martial arts alike
Below are some reasons why it is considered by many to be the most effective:
- Control of the opponent: It is extremely difficult if not impossible to escape a properly applied and locked in rear naked choke
- Using both of your arms against, arguable, the weakest part of your opponents body (their neck)
- Attacking your opponent from their back leaves you at a very powerful attacking advantage and them at a disadvantage to defend
- It is definitive: while other submissions such as joint locks may severely injure your opponent a rear naked triangle completely incapacitates them by blocking off the flow of oxygen to their brain and forcing them to lose consciousness (just like other strangles)
Tips for Finishing Submissions for White Belts in BJJ
- Effective submissions depend on the positioning before executing the technique.
- Taking a superior position will lead to more successful submissions.
- White belts often struggle to take a dominant position, making it easy for their submission to be reversed.
- Relaxation is key to making progress in jiu-jitsu. Relaxation can help to improve focus and save energy during training.
- Learning to control your emotions and save your energy will be extremly beneificialy when you start bjj – just breath and focus on technique as much as possible
What is the first submission you learn in BJJ?
While this will largely depend on what class you show up to, which submission the instructor chooses to show, and the type of bjj gym you go to, many gyms will first teach one of the below submissions to beginners:
- rear naked choke
What is the easiest submission in BJJ?
The easiest submission in BJJ are the rear naked choke, armbar, and triangle.
These submissions are easy to understand and easy to apply once taught properly. You will generally learn all of these submission within the first couple months of training, and the should be some of the submissions that you focus your learning on throughout the jiu jitsu belt ranks.
What Are the 5 Basic Submissions in BJJ?
The 5 basic submissions in bjj are:
- rear naked choke
These submission show the basics of Brazilian jiu jitsu as they pertain to pressure, leverage, angle, and squeeze.
Best BJJ Submission for Beginners – Conclusion
The best bjj submissions for beginners are ones that can be applied by a student of bjj who is still learning the jiu jitsu basics.
In the early months of training you may not be able to understand and effectively apply all the details of a specific submission, but with the submissions listed above if you are able to understand the one or two guiding principles you can effectively apply these submissions.
While it is important to focus on surviving and escaping at the early levels, learning one or two basic submissions will prove to be integral throughout your time in jiu jitsu.
That is why it is important to focus on the most effective submissions that work at the highest level since some of the submissions you learn first will stay with you throughout your jiu jitsu journey.
Thanks for reading all and happy strangling – Zack