7 Things You Can Do With Your Hands In A BJJ Picture

You can master the worm guard or advanced heel hook techniques, but can you ever really master what to do with your hands when you jump in a BJJ picture with your training partners, BJJ hero, during a promotion, or on the medal podium? Before Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, I was simply comfortable putting my arms around a friend’s shoulder, or letting it hang limp to the side and letting my smile or the background scenery speak for itself. Now, after several years of training in the gentle art, there is a brief moment of angst and anxiety right before a picture is taken where I ask myself “what do I do with my hands?” Due to a lifetime of low self-esteem and being more of a follower than a leader, I will rotate my eyes towards the hands of others in the photo and follow suit. In most cases, here is the variety of options I will uncomfortably follow.

The Gang Sign – Works best when everybody in the photo commits to it, which requires some level of coordination. It is a sign of strength and unity and great for group pictures. When done alone or when only one person in the pic does it, it doesn’t look or feel right. It comes off like there a lone wolf that has infiltrated the pack in a “Hail Hydra” type of way.


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You Da Man – Very common play when someone is promoted or won at a competition. The photo isn’t about you, its about them and you are letting the world know it.  You were just there for support or to witness greatness. This is only for group shots since you would look strange pointing into the air and you will come off bad if you are just pointing at yourself. I never pointed at anybody in a photo before I joined BJJ.

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Awkward Shaka – Ask me where the shaka originated and I would lie and say its a surfing or skateboarding thing. I really have no clue how it started. Regardless, of its origins, I likely have no business doing it and will never be as cool as someone who has earned the right to do it. Yet, I have done it in numerous photos, usually as a last resort to not knowing what to do with my hands, but feeling like I should do something with my hands. The result is my BJJ hero, coach, or teammate looks as cool as cucumber and I look like a lonely fanboy at a comic book convention.

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Arms Around The Shoulder – You are all good and have bonded over a few hard rounds and are all better for it. This play works well when you truly train with your buddies in the picture and have endured together and pushed each other to make each other better. If you just met the guy and went through class together without actually drilling or rolling together, the thumbs up or shaka might be the more appropriate play.


Thumbs up – Deep down you wanted to pull the shaka, but lacked the confidence to go all the way or maybe you are just a traditionalist that wants the world to know everything is A-okay. The thumbs up is safe and doesn’t ruffle any feathers or look weird, but do you even really know why you are doing it?


Clinched Fist – While others in the picture are flashing their thumbs up or shaka, I want the world to know I can not only grapple, but I can throw down too! It’s usually a sign that a guy or gal cross trained in striking or MMA. The closed fist is a sign of empowerment and toughness and maybe this guy isn’t down to just keep in playful. Very alpha play when you throw up the clinched fist.


Hands at the Side – To me this is the ultimate signs of confidence. You don’t worry about what to do with your hands and are comfortable with having them down at your side. No need to dilly-dally with your hands and waste time. Also, letting your enemies know, “come at me, I ain’t scared.”


Still feeling uncomfortable on what to do with your hands during a BJJ pic? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Just do what comes natural at the moment and you can always delete or untag yourself later.



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