Jerk-Jitsu 101: The Top 5 Dirty Moves And Tactics In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

In the jiu-jitsu world, there is a certain unspoken (and sometimes spoken) etiquette surrounding what moves and tactics are and are not allowed.  Some of these are banned in competition, while others are simply frowned upon in the gym.  If you use these moves in training (or in a competition) you will be seen in a negative light by people who adhere to the social rules of the game.  Here’s a list of dirty moves.

  1. Leg Locks.  As of the past few years, leg locks have come into favor in the jiu-jitsu community, but lets keep it real: this is a recent development.  I recently had a conversation with an American black belt who spent time in Brazil and competed down there and he told me that when someone would go for a leg lock in competition the audience would throw things at them.  In a recent edition of EBI, Jonathan Calestine was up against Geo Martinez and Geo’s corner was taunting Calestine by saying that Calestine would only go for leg locks.  If Calestine’s move of choice was a choke or an armlock and he was actively seeking that, they wouldn’t have said anything, but because his move of choice was the “dirty” leg lock, they were having a field day.  Just because of this, it was particularly satisfying to watch Calestine emerge victorious.
  2. Neck cranks/can openers.  Neck cranks are considered “dirty” because of the long term damage they can do.  Of course, like with any other submission, the neck crank can be safe to apply in practice, but it must be respected and it can come on quick.  Moreover, if the person being neck cranked didn’t properly warm their neck up, injury can creep up very quickly and unintentionally.
  3. Wrist locks.  Wrist locks are considered “sneaky” and “dirty”.  Like the neck crank, the wrist lock can come on quickly and do a lot of damage.  Also, wrist locks are readily available from anywhere, making them a rare “submission before position” move.  Ronaldo Jacare Souza won many matches via wrist lock simply by applying them once his opponent took a collar grip.  These can be difficult to apply in practice because of how quickly they do damage.
  4. Frontal Choke (AKA Rape Choke).  The front choke is classically seen as ineffective because of the many easy defenses against it, but the truth is that if you are aware of impending armbars, and aren’t shy about grabbing the other person’s throat, it can be a great way to distract an opponent and can set up other obnoxious tactics and techniques.
  5. Hard collar ties.  If you want to infuriate an opponent or training partner, when you go for a collar tie, try to club them as hard as you can in the back of their head.  Just be prepared for the wrath that will ensue.  This is essentially a strike, but because it comes in the form of what appears to be a tie-up, very few referees will call you for it.  It’s dirty, it doesn’t really accomplish much, but it will invariably get a reaction.

These are just five “dirty” moves.  There are, of course, much dirtier options like small joint manipulation, pinching, tickling, and orifice penetration (oil checks, fish hooks, eye gouging, etc.) but the list is potentially endless.

Moves are deemed dirty based on a few of factors:

  1. How quickly they do damage when applied
  2. Whether or not they cause lingering pain
  3. Whether or not the techniques require position to be applied (do they follow the position vs submission rule.)
  4. Were they “traditionally” practiced by the Gracie family.

What moves are considered dirty where you train?  What moves do you consider dirty?


  1. Aside from oil checks and eye gouges, there’s no dirty moves, just butthurt people. Someone I know threw a temper tantrum because I knee barred them and it’s not legal in IBJJF. Whiny cucks like him are why my preference is shifting more towards catch wrestling. They won’t call you a fascist if you neck crank them.


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