When you first join a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class in Houston, Texas, you are likely to hear a lot of strange terms floating around. The instructor and other classmates will talk in what is seemingly their own language, using terms like pummel, roll, spider guard and gassed. While you may feel intimidated by the new vocabulary, rest assured that everyone in the class was clueless at one point, too, and that after just a few sessions, you’ll be talking like a BJJ native. You can get a head start, however, by brushing up on the most common terms before your first session.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Slang
Any sport you take up will have its own terms and phrases, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is no different. Many of the BJJ terms are consistent across the martial arts, while others are unique to Jiu Jitsu. For instance, “gassed” refers to running out of energy. Though some of the BJJ terms are truly slang, many are actually Portuguese. For instance, the term “bombado” is Portuguese for “on steroids,” while “vamo bora,” or just “bora” for short, means “let’s go.” You will hear these terms in many Houston BJJ classes, even if the instructor is not of Portuguese descent.
Before your first lesson, you will be asked to put on a “Gi,” also known as a “kimono.” The Gi is the standard uniform for all martial arts students, not just those learning Jiu Jitsu. Also, as with other martial arts uniforms, the Gi of BJJ gets held together by a belt, called a “faixa,” which denotes progress. Bars on the belt are called “grau,” which indicate to what degree you have mastered each particular level. The mats on which you stand are called “tatami,” which is Portuguese for Mat.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Positions
Just as important as the terms for equipment are those for the positions of BJJ. Though some instructors will have their own slang for various poses, many of them are consistent across the arts. Some of the more common terms include the following:
- Look Up
- Spider Guard
- Closed Guard
- Seat Belt Grip
- North South
- Take Down
- Japanese Necktie
- Single Arm Kimura
Each of these positions is specific to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. During your first few weeks of instructions, you’ll hear different terms, such as hip escape, underhook, half guard, side control, x-guard, upa, mount, shrimping and take back. Some instructors use their own unique terms for certain positions. If this is the case with your instructor, you may wish to look up the official term, research how it’s performed and discuss with it other students.
In addition to the various terms for positions, you should also know what the term “posture” means. When your instructor says “posture,” it means your neck and back should be straight and your head in line with your spine. Being in posture is essential to your ability to correctly perform all other BJJ positions.
Advance Knowledge Is Key
Many aspiring practitioners may wonder why they should bother to learn the terms ahead of time. After all, they’re bound to pick them up during the course of instruction. While it is true that you will eventually learn BJJ terminology, it’s a good idea to get a head start on the lingo as the more quickly you learn the terms, the more effective your training will be. Learning the language also helps you prepare questions in advance for your instructors or classmates.
Moreover, learning Jiu Jitsu terminology before your first session can help you gain more enjoyment from the sport. When you know what’s happening and can communicate with both the instructor and other class members, you will feel more comfortable and better able to analyze what you see.
If there is terminology you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to ask your instructor or classmates for clarification. BJJ classes, just like other types of classes, are all about learning and gaining a better understanding of a given topic or practice. You cannot do that if you are too afraid to admit when you need help.
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a fun and great way to get into shape, build more confidence and become a better version of yourself. If you’re ready to immerse yourself in the world of BJJ, check out our programs today.