No-Gi BJJ Techniques: What’s Trending And Why

We all notice changes. However, have you ever stopped to reflect on what exactly is changing and why?

At any given point in time, the most effective techniques that you should be learning and understanding will be vastly different from what was important years ago.

For example, leg lock defense is a priority in 2018, while it might have been something that was overlooked many years ago. Because the majority of schools are mastering new ways to attack the legs, it means that practitioners need to improve their defense to keep up with the ever-growing variety of attacks.

Moreover, because no-gi is still growing and adapting quickly, we are beginning to see the implementation of techniques from other grappling-based martial arts. With the removal of the gi, minds are opening up to consider options that had never been previously applicable to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with the gi.

Previously, we have gone through certain phases that have influence BJJ as we know it. The popularity and rise of techniques such as the Berimbolo, De La Riva guard, and 50/50 have all had a lasting impression on the martial art.

Today, Evolve Vacation brings you “What Techniques Are Trending In No-Gi Jiu-Jitsu And Why?”


Leg Lock Defense

More than anything else right now, leg lock defense is evolving and adapting to the widespread adoption of these attacks around the world.

What used to be a type of submission that higher-ranked competitors would learn and use is now something that is often taught to entry-level students, as well. With the rise of John Danaher’s “Danaher Death Squad” and their brilliant leg-locking techniques, the world is scrambling to catch up to the pace that is being set by this illustrious group.

It is now common to see white belt level students learning and understanding the basic concepts of leg lock defense. Unsurprisingly, attacking the legs of someone with no understanding or experience of how to defend them always ends in one way. As such, competitors are now beginning to understand the risk signals and the various ways to combat a leg-locker.

In most cases, we do not see as many new techniques to stop leg locks as we see new ways to attack the legs. Instead, people are drilling the fundamental defenses that have been instructed by the greats of this martial art many years ago.

Finally, leg lock defense is starting to get some attention. And if you are not paying attention, you are going to have a tough time in competition.


Wrestling Ability and Techniques

Wrist-rides, the granby, and switches are taking over.

These were previously thought of as wrestling-only techniques, but we are now starting to see these being used in no-gi BJJ competitions. Wrestling movements in no-gi are still at an elementary stage. Again, it is hard to break out of what we traditionally know and understand.

One of the most significant changes that we are seeing now is the inclusion of wrestling techniques and mat work into the no-gi game.

There is no doubting that the success of grappling-focused martial artists in today’s premier MMA organizations has captivated audiences around the world. In particular, practitioners are starting to break down what they can learn from undefeated monsters of mixed martial arts such as Khabib Nurmagomedov and Ben Askren and exploring the possibilities of their movements and strategies in today’s no-gi competition. While Nurmagomedov comes from a combat sambo background and Askren has a history of folkstyle wrestling, these two martial artists use similar techniques to overwhelm their opponents on the mat in mixed martial arts competition.

In particular, the wrist-ride technique is something that is starting to gain some attention in No-Gi.

With the speed and slickness of No Gi, wrestling techniques such as the wrist-ride demonstrated above can be a powerful point of difference. It remains to be seen how these wrestling movements will continue to adapt to Jiu-Jitsu, but over time we are sure to many of these elements blend.


Z-Guard (knee-shield)

Partly thanks to Craig Jones, the Z-Guard (knee shield) is quickly gaining attention in gi and no-gi BJJ.

Jones’s meteoric rise through the no-gi scene in 2017 turned heads. It was not just because he submitted Nathan Orchard at EBI 11 or submitted Leandro Lo at ADCC, but because of the complexities of his strategy and how these high-level competitors seemingly didn’t have an answer for his techniques.

Of course, the knee shield has always been a viable option in BJJ and no-gi. It is a great way to defend against an opponent, but it was previously not viewed as a pathway to multiple submissions and attacks. It was previously never thought of as a ‘comfortable’ position to be in, either. However, now, Craig Jones and his development of Z-Guard play have seen many instructors start to take notice of his work.

At first, Jones had success with the Z-Guard as a method to set up triangle chokes and armbar submissions, but now he is also successfully entering the honey hole (saddle) from Z-Guard and finishing contests with heel hooks and other leg locks.

In the video above, Jones explains three different entries to the honey hole from the Z-Guard position. He also replicates and explains the heel hook finish that he used against Orchard at EBI 11.


Pressure Passing

Again, pressure passing is something that has been around forever. However, with the growth of leg attacks, pressure passes are becoming increasingly popular with competitors.

Pressure passing or ‘smash’ passing, is particularly useful against leg lockers. By smashing the guard, you can transition without fear of an opponent attacking your legs. Because most pressure passes require you to keep your legs pinned backward in a relatively safe position, it makes it extremely difficult for an opponent to attack your legs. Let’s not forget that your crushing pressure from top position will also keep his hips flattened against the mat. Here, he will be unable to swing his hips or generate any momentum to invert or capture a leg.

Pressure passing has always been good. However, with the rise of leg locks, it is only becoming more and more useful.


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