One of the strengths of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the considerable arsenal of attacks, defences and sweeps that have been developed for the person fighting from underneath an opponent. For clarification for those that don’t know, a ‘Sweep’ is achieved when the person fighting underneath manages to reverse their position coming up on top of an opponent – and is performed using the legs and arms. I am writing this site with complete beginners in mind and I can remember wondering what a sweep was when I started training. I was very hungry for information and read everything I possibly could about BJJ – and recall trying to establish what the various terms that were often used in books and articles meant.
A common misconception by those that have heard of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but don’t have knowledge of the system, is that Jiu-Jitsu players only fight from underneath and would preference being there. It’s fair to say that there are many ‘styles’ within Jiu-Jitsu and they are all part of the same fantastic system. Styles are often individual preferences and are sometimes referred to as someone’s ‘game’ – some would prefer to fight from the bottom and will elect to be there. Games develop with time and are usually naturally arrived at as a result of that person’s body type. We all have our own ‘games’ but tend to evolve in accordance with our teacher’s preferences. Our teachers are a product of their teachers and styles are passed on. We all need to be good at fighting from underneath because we need to strive towards being complete. What also needs to be realised is that if we are forced to defend ourselves, we may have no choice but to fight from underneath because we are faced with someone who is bigger, stronger and heavier.
My preference is to fight from the top position – I would prefer to be on top of someone who is bigger than me. Being underneath is tiring and a dangerous place to be – crushing. Being a smaller person I have often been forced to fight from underneath and have also consequentially, spent a lot of hours defending myself, developing my submissions and sweeps – a very good experience.