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Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Sweeps: The Basic Elements Take You Far

Updated on March 27, 2016

Sweeps Can Boost Your Game A Lot

Anyone who drops in at one of the top Los Angeles BJJ schools is going to see a lot of unique and cutting edge moves being performed. Students can become somewhat enthralled with the newer techniques and that is a good thing. Jiu Jitsu practitioners never want to become stale. They also, however, should never ignore practicing the basic, tried and true moves and techniques. Ye olde sweep is among the most basic of techniques to learn. Sure, there are some new and innovative entries to sweeps developed each and every day on the mats and also on the tournament circuit. A closer look at these new sweeps does reveal they are really variations of very basic techniques.

The Art of BJJ Sweeps

Sweeps are truly unique to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. They are neither takedowns or pin reversals, but do serve the same purpose as these other moves. The person on the bottom takes the person on top and puts him on his back involuntarily. (Sometimes with force) With a sweep, this is done from all variations of the open, closed, or half guard. Many people struggle with their sweeps and they really should not have to. Understanding a few elements of how a proper sweep should work can help ensure executing them is easier.

The way to make them easier is accepting the fact all sweeps have certain necessary elements to them.

The Basic Elements of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Sweeps

No matter what type of guard you are employing, there are certain components that make a sweep work. For one, you have to pull the opponent forward so his butt is no longer low. The higher his hind quarters are, the more his center of gravity works against him. You must control the head so he stays in place. If he can pull his head up and back, he regains his posture. This, in turn, just made making a sweep a lot harder to execute. Control the arm that is in the direction of where you are going with the sweep so he does not post it out and brace the fall. When you do actually perform the sweep, you have to do it on one hip. If both hips are on the ground that means you are flat on your back. Anyone flat on his/her back is going to have a real tough time executing a sweep smoothly because being too flat means you lose leverage. Once you lose leverage, you have to use a lot more strength.

This brings up another important point. Never use any strength when you are hitting a sweep. One thing that makes sweeps so unique to BJJ and, to a lesser extent Judo, is there is no emphasis on strength with the execution of the move. Proper mechanics in the performance of the sweep eliminates the need for any strength.

For those who might think there are major differences in the elements of sweeps in relation to different guards, all will be revealed if you perform a few simple sweeps from a few guards. You will quickly notice that even though there may be minor variations in the performance, the elements of a sweep remain basically the same.

Working on Your Sweeps: A Well Advised Path to Follow

Not everyone has great sweeps and that is only because they have not worked on developing them. Getting good at sweeps really does have to become a priority at some point because the better your sweeps are, then more effective and well rounded your guard's offensive arsenal becomes.

Sweeps work very well in combinations with other moves, especially when an opponent tries to counter the sweep. The basic scissor sweep goes very well with the triangle and the straight armlock, two of the highest percentage techniques in the Jiu Jitsu game.

Sweeps are not always designed to be flashy or theatrical. They are intended to help you progress forward and win. Granted, there are quite a few flashy sweeps players can dabble with, but it might be best to stick with the simpler and easier to execute ones. Flashy sweeps generally require the coordination of a number of different smaller moves. This is not always easy without a cooperative training partner. The more basic and straight forward a sweep is, the easier the execution of the move becomes.

Sweeps also help the tournament competitor A LOT.

In tournaments, sweeps give you two points over an opponent. More importantly, they get you off you back and on top of an opponent. Yes, you can fight from the guard, but you might discover it is better to be on top in the mount or the side mount. Attacks can be much easier when you have someone pinned. In a competition, the two point sweep combined with a four point mount presents a significant six point lead. Overcoming that significant amount of points is very tough.

Work A Little Bit Each Day

No one is going to get great at doing sweeps in a day or two. A long term committed effort to enhance skill is a must. Working on your sweeps a little bit each day is bound to yield results. Time passes and the classroom sessions add up. Imagine what 20 BJJ open mats in Los Angeles focused on sweep improvement can yield.

Check out the very cool sweep at the 2:14 mark. One of those old school "white belt" sweep combos works very well in a very high level competition.


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