Jiu-Jitsu: The Nuances of Standing Up

Photo by: BJJPix

Remember when you first started training and you went to your first competition? If you didn’t already have a Judo or wrestling background chances are you did what I like to call the “white belt shuffle” which is basically when two white belts shuffle around awkwardly jockeying for grips and a good part of the match is spent in a confused haze. As we get better at grappling our standup style can determine how we roll at tournaments.

For starters there’s the Judo style. Basically you keep the other person away from you until the moment when you are ready and then you use their weight and your leverage to throw them. I see it all the time. The grip set is crucial for this, there is no such thing is a disconnected shot for most Judokas. Judokas stand quite straight in comparison to wrestlers so if you see someone walking at you fairly straight up and down expect them to try to throw or foot sweep you.

Wrestlers on the other hand have a slouched, hunched over stance. They are very often trying to take your legs out from underneath you, and the best way for them to do that is to be very close to the ground. Their style is very much focused on “bullying” the opponent. I don’t mean to say they throw rocks at them on the playground, but rather wrestlers tend to grind their opponents, they come at them grab a leg (or both legs) and then insistently put them to ground.

Guard pullers will come out in whatever stance they want, make first physical contact and then sit down. This may sound simple, dumb and ineffective but if you watch many high level black belts, that’s exactly what they do. The key is to sit down when the other person is off balanced so as to be able to execute sweeps and submissions right off of the guard pull.

Transitions are where the action happens. If once action is initiated the person initiating the action is able to start a sequence of moves that the other person isn’t ready for they will be successful. For this reason, drills are crucial to developing any sort of standup game.

Another very important detail is understanding how to handle getting taken down. I know that when I get taken down I have sequences that I like to play with to reverse the takedown. If those fail me I have certain submission I like to go for and if those fail me my plan C is a combination of guard recoveries.

My main goal when I stand up with someone is to make them with they were on the ground with me. I like to elicit doubt and discomfort as much as possible, so that they don’t really want to stand up with me. I’m a steadfast guard puller but I do have the ability to take people down. Therefore I try to keep my standup game as nebulous and weird as possible. I like to do the “wrong” things in order to keep the other person guessing. Sometimes this fails me. Often this fails me. But it’s what I like doing.

What is your standup method? Are you a wrestler? A judoka? Or a guard puller?



  1. Just putting it out there, in my first comp, I got taken down and then armbarred the guy, then in the finals match, I took the other guy down with a double leg and kept passing and getting mount until I finished with an armbar. (15 y/o gi)


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