Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a martial art, that’s also a sport, that is also a community. If you ask some people they might even say BJJ is cult-like. One thing is for certain, people in Jiu-Jitsu are crazy about it. Moreover, the community aspect of it means those involved have certain ways of communicating that are different from what “regular Joes” use. If I have to define Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with one word, I’d opt to use subculture. And, like every other subculture out there, there’s a certain slang that comes with it. In our case, if you walk into literally any Jiu-Jitsu academy in anywhere in the world, you’ll hear one or more of certain BJJ Phrases within minutes. WE made our pick from the most common ones, but feel free to add in the comments!
when you walk in for your first BJJ class, confusion doesn’t even come close to explaining what you look like. People are usually completely lost even if they had an intro class earlier. This is normal, as you get thrust into a world of crazy “pajama snuggling” on the ground, that has the ultimate aim of putting you in painful positions and chokeholds. Moreover, the communication between those already “seasoned” members of the academy is like a different language. What is “roll”? Why are people shouting “Porra”? And what is all this about “being playful” when we’re here to learn to fight? Jiu-Jitsu is certainly one of a kind and there are a host of BJJ phrases that come with it. The good news is that they’re way easier to learn than actual Jiu-JItsu is.
Decoding A Few Of The Most BJJ Phrases
In terms of BJJ phrases, there are probably more than I can count out there. In this article, we’ll talk about the most common ones, as well as those that are popular nowadays. If you are a beginner looking to understand just what the heck is going on around you, this will help. However, let’s make something clear – do not take anything for granted. All these BJJ Phrases are just that – phrases. Try not to take anything too seriously, as most of them are meant in a joking fashion and very loosely interpreted by people.
The idea behind phrases in any subculture is to make things originally and easily understandable. All BJ Jhparases have a background and a story, but some are more useful than others. IN fact, some are just there to be shouted out, just because they’re a very BJJ thing to shout. And doing so is perfectly ok, as it helps people identify with the subculture and BJJ lifestyle even more. There are even T-shirts out there with lots of phrases as the main theme.
This is probably a good spot to mention that BJ Jphrases come in all shapes and sizes. We’ll be talking about general ones today, but there are also plenty of technical phrases. That’s the subject of yet another dedicated article coming soon. For now, it is enough to recognize that the technical phrases are actually very important and integral when it comes to tournaments. However, until we get to look at all of them, let’s decode some of the more “fun” ones.
If there was ever a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu phrase to start with, it has to be Oss. And the funniest thing about it is that it has nothing to do with Brazil, given that it is as Japanese as they come. As such, there’s no one man behind it, but rather an entire nation and a culture. Still, walk in any BJJ gym in the world and try counting how many times you hear “Oss” during your stay. It is by far the most utilized phrase in JIu-JItsu, oftentimes with no actual context or meaning.
Originally, “Oss” is a Japanese phrase that has different meanings. One version is that it is an abbreviation of Onegai Shimasu which loosely translates to “if you may”. Another definition places Oss as the short version of Oshi Shinobu meaning “never give up”. You can see why people use “Oss” both as a greeting as well as in situations where resolve is being tested, like rolling or competing. In BJJ, people also use it as a celebration, although it is almost universally used as a greeting at the start of class. AS such, it is a great way to show respect to the Japanese roots. However, in terms of BJJ Phrases, “Oss” is being thrown around at all times. Given it’s a loose translation, there’s actually no wrong way of using this one! At least not outside of Japan.
“Keep It Playful”
Whether it is Ryron or Rener Gracie (or both), behind this phrase, the fact remains that this one is one of the most recognizable BJJ phrases ever! In essence, keeping it playful is a mindset and an overall approach to training. However, people usually use it in any given occasion, appropriate or not.
The main idea of the Gracies here was to try and approach sparring, or rolling, in a way that doesn’t require people to try and kill each other. Keeping things playful means having fun while you roll and keep trying to do new things and evolve your game. AS far as the Gracies go, this mindset is actually pretty applicable in competitions too. However, for those of us not there yet (most of the grappling world) I’d advise against For recreational grapplers though, older grapplers, those recovering from injury, or those experimenting, there’s no better approach than “keeping it playful”. However, you can actually go overboard with this one, both in using it as a phrase and putting it to practice.
“Let’s Flow Roll”
Using this extremely common phrase, I’ll actually explain two very common BJJ phrases. The frit one is rolling, which, in Jiu-Jitsu means open sparring. In other words, you get to try out all the things you think you know against a fellow grappler with the same intentions. Rolling is the most fun part of the sport/art and is usually what really hooks people to BJJ. Still, given that everyone has a different approach, rolling experiences can be different. Some like to “keep it playful’, others go all out or try to keep competition level intensity. That’s where flow rolling comes in.
The phrase let’s’ Flow Roll’ is a fairly new one. Try saying that to Ralph Gracie if you ever get the chance to roll with him and see what happens. Flow rolling as concepts is fairly new, and means actually going for a full roll, everything included, but not trying to keep anything past the point of “perfect technique” That means no muscling stuff, and allowing to get swept, passed, etc with next to no resistance. It is once again a great learning tool when used correctly. The trouble with it is, the phrase gets used a lot more than actual flow rolls because people usually turn flows into full-blown wars in a matter of minutes.
This is the complete opposite approach to the “Keep It Playful’ mindset. “Porrada” is a Portuguese expression meaning “brawl”. The term “Everyday Porrada” therefore translates as Everyday Brawl. The meaning behind it is that you have to go hard and grind every single day in order to become the best grappler you can. The man behind this phrase and an entire movement within the BJJ subculture is Romulo Barral.
Romulo’s take on things is that you need to train hard every day, stop making excuses, and leave it all in the mat. Moreover, this holds true for both training, rolling and, of course, competing. After a huge victory against AJ Souza, Barral used the phrase for the first time in 2018 and it caught on like wildfire. Today, T-shirts, rashguards and BJ patches with the phrase are everywhere, as well as a hashtag that’s begin overly used on social networks. It is one of the most popular modern BJJ phrases and it is definitely here to stay.
“There is no losing in Jiu-Jitsu. You either win or you learn”
This phrase comes curtsey of Carlos Gracie Sr. It is intended as a motivational quote to help people in BJJ deal with the inevitable failure that training and competing brings. IT is also a highly controversial one, as it is extremely easy to turn it into an excuse for people. If you actually understand the phrase, you’ll see that it is about humility, perseverance and always keeping a beginner’s mindset. However, this is oftentimes very hard for people to realize, particularly beginners. So, this phrase can turn into a crutch for their failures. Using this phrase incorrectly might not a big deal in BJJ, but transferring such an attitude to daily life, where failure and losing are real things is not a good idea. So, keep this one in mind, use it, but do not abuse it because it can fire back.
As far as controversial things go, there’s hardly anything that can trump “Creonetism” in Jiu-Jitsu. “Creonete” translates to “traitor” and used to be a huge thing until a short while ago. To be fair, in certain gyms, it is still a big thing. In short, a Creonte is a person who trains at a certain academy for a while and then decides to transfer to a different one. Since most competition teams are rivals in competition, this used to be a very big deal. Moreover, “Creonte” is an offensive term, used in a derogatory sense.
Nowadays, BJJ politics are losing their power, and people are becoming a lot looser in this regard. Of course, the old-School guard still tries and enforces this, but it is far from as important as it once was. Still, if you can avoid being branded a Creonte, it can only be a good thing. However, if it means trading a McDojo for a real academy, don’t think twice about it. After all, it is just a BJJ phrase.
This is also a derogatory one by nature but rarely used as such in BJJ terms. Porra can loosely be translated as ‘Damn” and is usually a cuss word of sorts. When it comes to Jiu-Jitsu, though, this phrase can be heard just about anywhere. From people inserting it between every two words at competitions, to coaches using it when they explain things in class. The word is everywhere and is usually completely out of context. With this one, it is all about fun, and about the Brazilian orgies of the sport. Interestingly, even though it is a mainstay in Portuguese vocabulary, English-speaking grapplers tend to say it a lot more than Brazilians.
“The Ground Is My Ocean”
Of all the BJJ phrases that we use, this one is the most polarizing. PIlarizri9zng in th sense that you absolutely love it as a white belt, and then slowly grow to despise it as you go up the ranks. This one has its roots in the early Gracie challenges when they were out to prove JIu-JItsu is the best martial art. During such time, they took everyone down or pulled guard and proceeded to dispose of all kinds of martial artists. In that sense, the phrase “the ground is my ocean, I’m the shark, and you don’t even know how to swim” was born. It made sense then, but in modern times, it is just a phrase.
The exact person behind it is unknown, with different sources citing pretty much everyone, From Renzo Gracie, through Rigan Machado, we’ll probably never know for sure. Still, it is one of the dumber pones out there, and it’s safe to say it is outdated. It is still in use, though, mostly by beginners.
“Shut up and train”
Out of all the phrases we went over today, this is the most important one, and it is not even a Jiu-Jitsu phrase per se. This one is everywhere in all of the martial arts, all the time. The trouble is, no one I acting upon it. When it comes down to having fun, talking is okay. When it comes to learning, training, and improving, it is time to “shut up and train”. This is one of these phrases that we need to both use more, and enforce more on the mats. Talking during training and rolling can be a huge problem, and not just for the person that has their mouth open. Out of all the BJJ phrases here today, you need to take this one literally and be dead serious about it. Moreover, feel free to use it whenever you see fit during training.
BJJ is fun, whichever way you look at it. Being a part of such a huge subculture is exciting, and people try to fit in as best they can. With that in mind, understanding BJJ phrases is a huge step to become more easily integrated into the community. There are those among the phrases that are fun, those that are serious, and even strange ones. A bit of everything, but it is a part of the culture. So, keep it playful porra, and let’s flow roll!