My Jiu Jitsu Game: A Breakdown Analysis by a Black Belt

A BJJ black belt by the name of Matt, was nice enough to reach out to me with an idea. Matt is working on a BJJ idea where he offers people a chance to submit footage of a competition match or a rolling session, and a black belt (him) reviews it, and returns the footage with commentary. I said that’s cool and we exchanged emails.


The following is a summary of his analysis…

Analysis – Strategy

Since my match was mostly stand-up, that is, my opponent and I were stuck jostling instead of attacking for most of the match, Matt starts off by giving me some strategy ideas for takedowns. For example, ankle picks and collar drags are relatively safe from back exposure to your opponent. And if he can’t get his best takedowns in under a minute, he looks for a chance to pull guard into specific sweeps he likes. An if those don’t work than maintaining a good open or closed guard. A lot of the match was stalemating in stand-up with grips, with not a lot of grip breaking. For example, I had more wrestling grips like undercooks and collar ties. Matt suggests that I get comfotable with collar grips at the collar bone, as they have pretty much the same control as a collar tie.

Analysis – Crossing My Feet

In the match, I had a bad habit of moving laterally with my opposite foot. And as a result put myself in the position of potentially being tripped as my legs where momentary crossed (as you see in the picture below, I’m moving to the left but using my right foot first). Lucky my opponent didn’t notice.

Analysis – Hip Toss

Since I sort of froze up and forgot a years worth of my jiu jitsu, some of my old wreslting habits kicked in. I tried to do a hip toss but was too far away. Matt said ‘spacing’ is important for executing a hip toss correctly, I needed more hip-to-hip connection. I used to get them no problem in wrestling but with the gi grips, my opponent wasn’t going anywhere. I was just too far away and he had tight grips on my arms and collar. He also mentioned that hip tossing in BJJ is high risk, as you’re basically exposing your back to your opponent. Also there is no extra points for amplitude for takedowns in BJJ, if there is a dramatic high flying toss, it gets the same number of points, two, as an ankle pick.

Notice the gap
I’m off balance and risk being tossed backwards.
Too much space for a hip toss
Again I could have been tossed backwards because I have too much space and don’t have good balance here

Analysis – Grip Breaking

Matt suggests that I need to have a goal of practicing and playing with different grips while at the BJJ gym, and to figure out what grips work best for me. For example, the same side sleeve grip or cross side sleeve grip, and “When you break these grips, try and break them in a way where you keep that grip. Let’s say that I’m ripping your hand off my lapel, well to do that I have to grab you, right?. When I grab your sleeve, I’m going to break the grip and keep the sleeve, and look to work from there…use that grip that you got, and go with it.”

Analysis – Posture

Have you ever seen competition photos on Facebook or other social media from events like Grappling Industries, NAGA, or IBJJF? Matt noticed that most people, all levels, have stand-up posture like my opponent and I do in the photo below. Our weight is out in front of our feet, hips are far back, great for someone who loves ankle picks and the snap-down. Matt says it’s a common posture in BJJ and more people should be taking advantage of their opponents poor posture.

Here I try a Head and Arm toss but missed and it went to the ground with my opponent on top of me

Analysis – On the Ground

There wasn’t much ground play in this match. But after my failed head and arm toss, my opponent gets on top on me and I recover in a quarter guard (which I didn’t even know was a type of guard ha). I should have tried with all my might and turned into my opponent. Matt points out that I can’t recover guard while I’m facing away from my opponent. I need to plant my feet and turn back into him.


Thanks to Matt the black belt for taking the time to do a breakdown analysis of my current BJJ game.

Basically, I cross my feet too much and try high risk tosses but have too much space and I’m off balance. An even better opponent would have crushed me. I ended up losing the match in points. I’ve done two comps, two matches, and still haven’t scored points. Lucky I signed up for my third comp and will look to do better! That’s the plan anyway.

Check out the full breakdown video below.

Here is the video:


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