Secrets Of BJJ: The Real Reason You Can’t Finish Moves

The one thing that makes us love BJJ so much is also the one thing that I most frustrating about our sport. It is damn hard to finish. And I’m not just talking about submissions here. Finishing any move you try is where the real challenge in Jiu-Jitsu lies, whether you’re attacking or escaping. Granted, with time and experience people‘s finishing rates start to climb. However, with knowledge, you could really shorten the time it takes to figure out one of the secrets of BJJ: how to finish more moves.

As you immerse yourself in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, solving the secrets of BJJ becomes the real big challenge. However, before such time when the outcome of a roll or even a match becomes insignificant for you, it is all about pulling this and that move on as many people as possible. There’s a simple concept that will greatly help you with this, and it is one you’ve already heard about: alignment. The trouble is in applying it at the right time, rather than knowing about it.

Unlocking The Secrets Of BJJ

Three’s something extremely rewarding when you “solve” something in BJJ. Call it a Eureka moment, a click, a revelation, solving a mystery, or whatever you want. The moment things start making sense is a “facepalm” moment that seems unbelievable you couldn’t “solve” earlier. However, that’s far from an endpoint. In fact, solving one BJJ secret, like cutting off a Hydra’s head, will only give birth to a bunch of new ones.

When we’re talking about the secrets of BJJ, those are not some things reserved for the masters that you get to learn only after you get your black belt. Far from it. Those are the things that are not really important when you start. As you go up the ranks, priorities, and perception change, allowing you to see things differently. That’s when you get to solve some (or most) of the secrets of BJJ. However, this approach has a flaw, at least according to me.

Keswick BJJ - Secrets Of BJJ: The Real Reason You Can’t Finish MovesThe approach we have in Jiu-Jitsu is to teach people “beginners” Jiu-Jitsu, only to have them slowly re-learn everything as they progress. Why do we have to do things twice? Why not teach people correctly from the beginning? And yeah, that includes divulging some of the “secrets of BJJ” even as early s the first few months. And yes, beginners will be ready to take them in. In fact, they’ll actually understand all the moves you’re trying to teach them much better if you explain and reiterate stuff like alignment early on.

Science Of Jiu-Jitsu: How To Finish Everything

Wrapping up that tight choke with a tap while you’re not really exerting yourself is the ultimate mark of high-level jiu-jitsu. The same holds true for just about any move you use. Taking a look at any of the grapplers we consider GOATs makes them seem like they’re pulling things off without even trying. You then go to the gym to give that pass, sweep, escape, or submission a try, and you fail miserably. That is because you’re focusing on the wrong thing.

The way to make everything in BJJ work is to understand how things work. And to do that, you want to look at some fundamental principles of grappling. To that extent, one of the secrets of BJJ that is the hardest to figure out (unless someone explains it) is alignment. But it is not the alignment you’re probably thinking about.

When it comes to alignment people think about how they’re positioned in relation to their opponent. That is actually not really important and is constantly in flux. It is one aspect of alignment you can’t really control. What really matters is the alignment of your own body first and foremost. Then, in a very logical way, you should look to disrupt your opponent’s own alignment. Now, try and execute every move after doing these two things and you’ll have one of those Eureka moments again.

A Few Practical Examples Of Alignment

Let’s look at alignment from a more practical perspective. Let’s say you’re standing and you and your partner have a collar and elbow tie (regardless if it is Gi or No-Gi). Stand like that and tell your partner to try and move you around. Easy, right? Now, improve your alignment. First, stagger your stance, just slightly, by pulling one foot back. Next, lower your shoulders and tuck your pelvis forward. Make sure your spine is straight (upwards, to the sides and in terms of torsion. Now, have them try and move you again.

macarena 1024x674 - Secrets Of BJJ: The Real Reason You Can’t Finish MovesA more attacking application would be attacking from the back. Having a seatbelt often makes our spine twist lightly, taking our own body out of alignment. Once you’re on someone’s back, make sure your spine is straight, shoulders are rounded, and that your hips are extended slightly, so that your hooks are heavy. Choking someone out will also have to do with how your own body Is aligned first. Just think about the Macarena dance – that’s how you should have your arms set up to choke someone.

The leg drag is our final example today, where I’ll focus on breaking the opponent’s alignment. When trying to pass via a leg drag, most people fail to finish right before they pass. The reason is, you allow your opponent to keep the alignment in their body. If you focus on keeping their knees pointing away from you, and you also pull their head towards their knees, you will be able to pass to wither side, or directly into the mount, without their legs giving you any sort of trouble. Moreover, if you do so by aligning your own body (head down butt up) you’ll only make the pass more powerful.

Suddenly, the secrets of BJJ don’t’ seem so secret anymore.


The beauty of Jiu-Jitsu is in small victories. And, those are hidden in the tiniest details of the art. Be warned, though, once you start looking into solving secrets of BJJ the likes of alignment, you’ll fall in a very different rabbit hole than the one of gathering techniques and moves. It is a fun journey though, and it will make you appreciate Jiu-Jitsu even more!

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