Your Jiujitsu Alphabet

One of the first things you learn in school is the alphabet. If asked what letter comes after “p” you’d most likely say in your head “l-m-n-o-p…Q” It’s so ingrained in us that for the rest of our lives we run that shitty song over in our heads countless times, for countless reasons. And most of us don’t remember even learning it.

A way to look at the basics of jiujitsu, the absolute fundamentals that should be learned first on your path, is as your “alphabet”. They comprise your fallback safety net to catch you when your brain gets confused. Before you learn the jokes or swear words of your new jiujitsu language, as fun as they may be, learn the 2 and 3 letter words. And before you learn those, learn the alphabet that those words are made of.

When learning a new technique, most people work on memorizing and practicing these new techniques as is, and unrelated to anything. It is treated as an awesome looking movement they want to master. And at best, you’ve learned THAT movement, for THAT moment in THAT position. At worst, and usually, it is imitated for a bit and fizzles out of existence.

An exponentially better approach is to see how what you’ve learned previously, the very basics, could be analyzed and arranged to give you at least the clues to figure it out. Use what you DO understand of your jiujitsu language already and go from there. Once you’ve begun looking at every new technique as a combination of the same basic movements you already know, you’ll find yourself coming back to your “alphabet”, and new ideas won’t seem so new. Instead of memorizing and practicing these new techniques as they are, you’ll be able to break it down as a combination of much simpler techniques. This technique is a skill in itself. Much more effective than taking each technique as is…This way of technical navigation will give you a much fuller understanding of the total language of jiujitsu.

The basic movements are your alphabet…learn them…you will need them to fall back on.


Published by: JonFriedland

Jon Friedland here, finally putting some of my thoughts to type. I've been training well over 23 years, receiving my black belt in 2007. I’m a 16-year dojo owner and head instructor of Brazilian Jiujitsu. Started training Jiujitsu casually in early 1995, formally in 1997. Teaching BJJ since 2000, i received my black belt in 2007, opened my academy, Neutral Ground, in 2005, am the head instructor, and am currently a 3rd degree black belt under Master Pedro Sauer. i can be reached at

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