Gracie Barra Week 13 – Jiu-Jitsu Guards

Want to learn the best fundamentals? Come to Gracie Barra Centennial Jiu-Jitsu and check out some awesome Jiu-Jitsu Guards

GB1 – This week in our fundamental class we learn how to defend  the roundhouse kick and respond with a double leg takedown. On the ground game we improve our skill of the situp sweep and transition to the kimura submission. These fundamentals are key to a solid Jiu-Jitsu game. We also begin to work on options from the spider guard. How to set it up and a few spider guard sweeps.

GB2-3 – In the advanced curriculum we are working from the guard using options of the De La Riva Guard and the X-Guard

GBK –  In our kids program we teach how to use the Push Kick to keep your distance. This is vital in confrontations. If we look back to UFC on we see Royce Gracie effectively use the push kick to set up his opponents and eventually win the competition.  On the ground game we work the Scissor Sweep and we learn more techniques to use your legs in the guard.

For more about the guard Click Here

Gracie Barra Centennial Free Jiu-Jitsu Anti-Bullying Program

Gracie Barra Centennial Free Jiu-Jitsu Anti-Bullying Seminar

Bullying is a real problem. It happens on the playground, in the classroom, in social situations, and across digital platforms more every day. Almost 65% of kids who are bullied do not report the instance. Approximately 90% of kids bullied online are also bullied offline. Kids today get no respite- no break- from the threat of bullying behaviors. Please come take advantage of one of our anti-bullying seminars in September and:

Learn how to recognize bullying
Learn how to stop and walk away
Learn how to standup to bullies
Learn how to protect yourself

Thursday Afternoons in September 5:10pm – 6:00pm 

Open to everyone in the Community, but space is limited. So, sign up today. Four dates available.  Get tickets on Eventbrite      855-548-5488 


Fundamentals or Advanced Jiu-Jitsu?

“Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise”

Through my travels I have visited a number of different jiu-jitsu academies and observed many different students learning and practicing the art of jiu-jitsu.

A very common phenomenon that I see is white belt and blue belt students who are attempting to focus their jiu-jitsu games around advanced, fancy sports positions and ignoring the more basic (but tried and tested!)  techniques and fundamentals.

They are Granby rolling all over the mat and trading berimbolo attempts but not demonstrating the ability to control the opponent in a dominant position. They are not working on a solid base that prevents them from being repeatedly swept.

There is nothing wrong with being interested in cool looking techniques and experimenting with advanced positions when you are learning jiu-jitsu. Exploring the positions opens your mind to the possibilities of jiu-jitsu. It expands your thinking and can develop your body awareness and jiu-jitsu specific movements. And it is just plain fun to try some cool moves with your favorite training partners.

The problem is when the fundamentals are ignored in favor of flashy, lower percentage movements. The precious training time is allocated on positions that contribute little to a student’s longer term growth in jiu-jitsu. The more advanced, sport moves may seduce the student by being successful early on when your training partners are unfamiliar with the position and you can catch them by surprise. But after being caught a few times, your training partners get wise to the move and it ceases to be effective.

The basic techniques WORK! That is why the basics have endured and proven themselves on mats all over the world since the time Grandmaster Helio Gracie first tied on a white belt!

Often I will have a roll with a student and catch several “basic” submissions for the tap. Following the roll I ask “Did you get swept or submitted with any move that you have not seen before?”

The answer invariably is “No!” and along with that an insight that when done correctly with timing, precision and sound fundamentals, the basic techniques work and will ALWAYS work throughout your jiu-jitsu journey!

I think often of this quote from Master Carlos Gracie Jr.
“I don’t get this obsession with all of the acrobatic guards. They are efficient, sure. But they’re fleeting. Your body has difficulty understanding them for too long. I say this from my own experience. The lumbar region, for example, as strong as it may be, will never be armored against the passage of time. Jiu-Jitsu is for your whole lifetime, and by that line of reasoning you can rest assured that the basic techniques like the closed guard or this open guard I enjoy doing, will never abandon us. At 70 we’ll still be capable of performing them with plenty of mobility. That can’t be said of the tornado guard or the berimbolo.”

Another important point worth noting is that many of the more advanced positions, while very effective when used in the right situation, require a certain level of fundamentals : base, posture, hip movement, core strength, balance, timing and so on. These fundamentals take time to develop before the jiu-jitsu student is able to effectively apply them to some if the more advanced positions.

Without these fundamentals in place, the new student is not ready for these new positions.

One Gracie Barra instructor expressed his minor frustration with beginner students wanting to skip Fundamentals class and jump right into Advanced class “There are no secrets in the Advanced class. There is no conspiracy to keep you away from the ‘good stuff’ hidden in the Advanced class.”

The majority of the most effective techniques that you use in your rolling EVERYDAY will be those basic techniques (e.g. Guard replacement, triangle choke, stack guard pass) that we learn when we first start learning jiu-jitsu in the GB Fundamentals class.

More experienced jiu-jitsu belts often express to me how their study of jiu-jitsu has lead them full circle away from the fancier techniques to refining the details on their basics. The moral of the story is always work on the fundamentals and slowly add advanced techniques so you can develop an all around game. 

See also on Gracie Barra : Improve your game

Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Saigon, Vietnam
Instagram: @markmullen.bjj

Week 11 Gracie Barra Training Curriculum

In Week 11, we get to review some of the basics. At Gracie Barra we believe having a solid understanding of fundamentals is key to having a strong game. 

GB1 – We start every GB1 class with self-defense. This week you will learn to transition from turtle position and knee-on-the-belly to to full guard. You go from being very vulnerable to the control position.

In  The sport Jiu-Jitsu aspects of the GB1 class we review keeping a solid posture and how to break a closed guard. You will also learn to classic passes, one arm under and two arms under. 

GB2-3 – In our advanced classes the professors key in on Leg Grab takedowns and techniques from the Top Guard. 

GBK – Our Little Champs work more on distance control – How to stay at a safe distance from their opponents. We will also share a class single leg takedown. From Top Guard position we will learn how to keep good posture, break the guard and pass to mount. 

Whether it is your first time trying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or you have been practicing for years, this week is good for your game. Stop by for class today. 

Learn the Open Guard at Gracie Barra Jiu-Jitsu

GB Learning : Open Guard Styles

This week on Gracie Barra Blog we are going to look at 5 different styles of open guard that intermediate to advanced jiu-jitsu students should be training.

Depending on your body type, your personal jiu-jitsu game and which submissions or sweeps that are your strongest attacks, you will gravitate more towards certain guard styles that work for you.
I suggest to blue belt students that they explore all of the various open guard styles to see which ones feel right for them. Then they can build their guard games around their strongest guard style.

Let’s see some different open guard styles as taught by Gracie Barra instructors.

1) Butterfly guard
A very powerful sweeping position effective in both no-gi and with the kimono. There are many different combinations available in this position. Check out the entire series of techniques as shown by Prof. Marcio Feitosa in his series on the butterfly guard.

2) Spider guard
If triangle and omoplata attacks are your favorite guard submissions, then you will probably use the Spider guard a lot. There are a great number of sweeps from this position as well which makes it one of the strongest guard styles.

3) X Guard
This is an especially effective guard that will work without the kimono. Prof. Daniel Marques teaches how smaller guard players can use the X-Guard to unbalance a heavier opponent on top and look for one of several possible sweeps.

4) Single Leg X Guard
Leg lock specialists must have a solid single leg X guard game as this is a primary entry and control position to attack various leg locks from the bottom. Prof. Dave Weber shows how the single leg X-Guard combines well with other related open guard styles like X-Guard and DLR

5) De la Riva guard
This is the first sweep that you should study from De la Riva control. Competitors in IBJJF tournaments love this guard and if you want to compete, you should be well versed in defending and passing the DLR guard. Many competitors like this guard as their favorite open guard style.

See also on Gracie Barra : GB Techniques: 5 Advanced Shoulder Locks

Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Saigon, Vietnam

See also on Gracie Barra : GB Techniques: More tips

Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Saigon, Vietnam

Week 10 Gracie Barra Centennial Jiu-Jitsu Armbars, Mount and Knee on Belly

Come to Gracie Barra Centennial Jiu-Jitsu this week and learn how to defend yourself from a takedown with a classic guillotine choke. We are also teaching submissions from the mount position. Learn a quality armbar and a keylock submission. In addition we are teaching the key points of knee on belly. 

In the advance classes we are working on hand and hip throws, mount and knee on the belly submissions. 

In the GBK program we show how to do a headlock takedown as well as defense for it. We also follow similar moves in the adult curriculum, as the knee on the belly and working from the mount. 

For more about Armbars Visit HERE

Are You Old School or Modern Jiu-Jitsu?

During the time since jiu-jitsu made it’s introduction to the world outside of its origin in Brazil, the art and sport has evolved significantly.

The basic but highly effective jiu-jitsu (clinch, trip, advance to mount / rear mount and submit) that we saw Royce Gracie use in those early UFCs is still around. But jiu-jitsu has evolved and expanded greatly beyond those early days.

Along with the expansion of jiu-jitsu all over the world, the number of competitions has increased exponentially which has lead to incredible innovations in positions and techniques to score points. At present, if you watch the blue belt category at a major IBJJF event you will see advanced positions like Reverse De la Riva guard, Berimbolo, Truck Rolls and Half Guard techniques far beyond the jiu-jitsu on display at the first jiu-jitsu World Championships in 1996.

Combined with the access to video of both competition footage and technique websites, this has all led to incredible flowering of knowledge in the jiu-jitsu world. Modern blue belts are conversant in sweeps that would have had some old school black belts scratching their heads!

Watch the advanced belt brackets at a major tournament and you will see highly technical displays of a wide variety of techniques. Most everyone agrees that this is a good thing. It is not possible to resist progress in jiu-jitsu tactics for winning competition.

The dilemma however, is that many of these new sport strategies may be the most expedient path to win the gold at a tournament, and many have departed from the roots of jiu-jitsu as a practical art for defending oneself in a real fight. A position like Inverted Guard can be highly effective to prevent someone from passing your guard and attacking triangles. When we add the element of punches, we see that it becomes dangerous to attempt such a position that leaves us exposed to strikes. Would this work in a street fight?

I was at an amateur MMA event a recently and noted that the positions and techniques that were most common and effective are not much different than those early days of MMA. The fundamentals of 2 opponents engaged in a fight have not changed significantly. Example : Statistically speaking, by far the most effective submission in the UFC in 2017 was that same rear naked choke that Royce used to submit his opponents in that very first UFC.

This divide has led to debate within the jiu-jitsu world. There are those of the old school philosophy that are critical of the “modern jiu-jitsu” positions that are removed from the reality and practicality of the basics. There are schools that advertise “jiu-jitsu for self defense” but teach lapel guard and strategies to get 2 points for a sweep still adhering to the essence of the art?

On the other side of the debate is the jiu-jitsu practitioners that say they train jiu-jitsu for fitness and for fun and have no plans to compete in an MMA bout, so learning and enjoying all of the positions of jiu-jitsu is perfectly ok.
They counter the self defense argument by saying that a purple belt in jiu-jitsu is highly skilled at control of an opponent’s body and fully capable of defending themselves in a possible street event. They would not jump to half guard and try a sweep, and use the basic techniques of jiu-jitsu.

Master Carlos Gracie Jr. had a few words to say on the topic.

Where do you weigh in on the Old School vs. Modern Jiu-jitsu debate? Are you old school or modern?

See also on Gracie Barra : 3 Extra things to improve your Jiu-Jitsu

Credits: Mark Mullen
Gracie Barra Black belt based in Saigon, Vietnam
Instagram: @markmullen.bjj

Gracie Barra Week 6 Fundamentals: Headlock and Back & Turtle Bottom

The Gracie Barra Fundamentals Curriculum allows for students starting Jiu-Jitsu for the first time and even the experienced competitor to learn and refine the basics. Each week we go through a series of  new techniques all layered together by Master Carlos Gracie Jr. and may of his black belts. 

This week we are learning some very important headlock escapes. A great aspect of our program is the practical use of self-defense techniques we learn. These escapes are great for jiu-jitsu competition as well as on the streets in a confrontation. In addition to the headlock escapes we learn a very important guard – Turtle. The turtle is a good way to protect yourself while transitioning back to a full guard or top dominant position. Drop in one day this week for a free class an you can begin to learn for yourself. Call us 855-548-5488 or by email at

3 Extra Things You Can Do To Improve Your Jiu-jitsu in Denver

Come learn to improve your Jiu-Jitsu at Gracie Barra Centennial

Everyone reading this article who would like to improve their jiu-jitsu faster raise their hands (all the hands go up). Now that we have your attention, lets discuss a few ideas that can accelerate your improvement in jiu-jitsu.

The #1 important factor in your jiu-jitsu training is regular attendance in class. No amount of watching jiu-jitsu videos is going to help you if the start of class does not find you on the mat!

That said, HOW you use your time on the mat when you are in class is really important.

Here are a few tips on how to get the maximum benefit from each class.

1) Cultivate training partners
Next to having a Black belt professor who can teach you solid fundamental techniques, good training partners will make the most impact on your jiu-jitsu.

In larger, established bjj schools there will be an abundance of advanced belts to work with. In new and smaller academies you need to build those training partners.

– Be the first to say hello to new students and welcome them to the school
– Have a helpful attitude to share information with newer students to help solve their problems

With more experienced training partners, build the training relationship by agreeing to meet and partner up at specific times. Make a pact to train regularly at certain times. Discuss what aspects of your jiu-jitsu game that you are trying to improve and make a plan to help each other improve each others games using Tip #2.

2) Drill
The best jiu-jitsu students I’ve observed will team up with their favorite training partners and agree to a plan to work together on drilling a certain position that they both wish to improve.

They arrive early to class or stay a little later to drill techniques that they wish to improve on top of whatever was taught in class that day.

I recall several blue and purple belts who liked working together and would coordinate to drill together at any open mat time available. It is little surprise that they were among the most technical members of the academy and successful in competition.

This was all on their own initiative and occurred outside the regular class times at open mat and both before and after the classes. You can do it too!

3) Ask questions
This is the single thing that most jiu-jitsu students could easily do to improve their own games. Yet many seem to be too shy and unwilling to ask their instructor questions about problems they encounter in their rolling.

Think about the last time that you rolled a few rounds. What worked well? What didn’t work so well? Did you get swept repeatedly by a specific technique? Was your guard passed or you got submitted several times?

Now take those jiu-jitsu problems to your instructor and ask “Last class I tried to pass the guard using the knee cut and I got my back taken. Am I doing something wrong?”

Now you are addressing problems and building your personal game in a targeted way. Brick by brick you can build your jiu-jitsu game and find solutions for the rolling problems that you experience.

Good training to you!

Week 3 Gracie Barra Training Curriculum

Come learn the single leg takedown and double leg this week at GB Centennial

The fundamentals continue at Gracie Barra Centennial Jiu-Jitsu. Serving the entire South Metro Denver Area, our Black Belt Professors can help you improve your game. Gracie Barra is the prime place to learn Denver Jiu-Jitsu.

This week we are escaping the mount and side mount with our self defense. When we get to the ground game we are honing our skills on breaking the guard from the knees and standing, learning the one arm under pass and the double arm under pass. 

In the advanced program we show many options for takedowns including the single leg takedown and the double leg takedown. This is will help all our competitors get the first points in competition. Our professors then share their favorite positions from top, passing guard and submissions.

In the Gracie Barra Kids program we learn how to break fall, use the guard and the technical lift. These are some of the most basic positions in Jiu-Jitsu as well as most important. For our Gracie Barra Kids competitor we are working on the single leg takedown.