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Illegal moves for white belts

The most dangerous creature on the mat

There are a lot of moves banned in many tournaments for white belt competitors. 

The process of making a technique illegal often arises when the governing body or organization identifies a position with the potential to cause injury. 

Often, the move or position won’t start off being illegal. It’s only after injuries keep recurring that the move or positions legality comes up for discussion. 

Especially, for newer competitors that are often unfamiliar with competing, rules, and controlling themselves. 

If you’ve ever watched a white belt match. It looks a lot like a blood sport fight. 

When you get two brand new white belts going at it. The match can be very unpredictable. 

In fact, there’s almost no technique at this point. Instead, natural instincts take over and it’s essentially a mini mixed martial arts match. 

So now we will go over the most common illegal movements specific to white belts in many major gi competitions. 

//Jumping closed guard and flying submissions 

I’ve done a few videos on this one but pretty much if the guard jumper messes up their pull. They will very often injure their opponents legs. Seriously damaging the knees if they jump the wrong way. 

I mentioned above that new white belts don’t have a lot of body awareness/control. So this is a very dangerous move. 

Not to say that jumping guard is bad.

It’s just that you can only jump guard in specific situations. Meaning that you can’t force it or spam it. 

So definitely practice this move with a compliant partner before even dreaming of using this in sparring or in a match. 

//Wrist locks 

This is a move that you wouldn’t think would be illegal. 

But it’s often those moves that seem simple that are easy to get wrong like jumping to closed guard. 

The wrist lock is dangerous because it goes from 0 to 100 real quick. 

It goes from no pain or maybe a little bit of discomfort to snap-crackle-pop. 

Again, if a student doesn’t have control. It’s just a recipe for disaster. 

To properly perform a wrist lock from say the side mount. It’s an exercise in escalating force. 

That means that once you secure the wrist lock. With control, we have to continually apply force until our opponents taps with out injuring them to the best of our ability. 

Also a lot of white belts don’t have the awareness of when they’re in a submission. So they might get caught in a tight wrist lock, but not know that is a wrist lock and be able to act accordingly. 

//Leg locks other than ankle locks 

Same as with wrist locks. 

Leg locks have to be practiced with a lot control. Because they can deal a lot of damage. 

I actually don’t mind teaching white belts leg submissions. Especially in no gi. 

But I also understand that also comes with having to watch them more closely and sometimes stopping training sessions in which I feel they may get injured. 

//So why are all of these moves illegal in most tournaments for white belts?

The white belt is a person with a novice level of experience and ability in Jiu Jitsu. 

If you allowed them the full rule set. I believe that a lot of white belt students would do well. 

However, due to the nature of competition. 

The anxiety of competing for the very first time or couple of times. 

Along with so little experience.

The more moves at their disposal. The more likely they are to try something crazy and potentially injure themselves and their opponent. 

It’s not to unusual to see a white belt student just “wing it” and do something super crazy and something they never practiced before in a roll or competition. 

In that case, I think it’s okay to have a few limitations for everyone’s safety. 

Why gripping is so important

Gripping is one of the most important skills that you can develop to improve your guard play and your passing. 

When working with a new student. I will first ask them what position(s) they are working on followed immediately by what grips they are looking for, and how do they get to that position. 

And this serves a few purposes. Chief among which, is to see their understanding of a position because no technique can exist in a vacuum by itself. Every technique is connected to a position. Which is connected to the student through their gripping. 

For instance, if a student is having trouble with a technique from their spider guard. 

The first thing I will do is have them start not in the technique giving them issue, but in the spider guard and have them work their way back to the move that gives them trouble. 

Being able to show from start to finish how to set up a technique shows if a student really understands the move. 

If a student can walk me through all of the details confidently and concisely. I know they have a great understanding of the technique. 

If they struggle to set up their move that can be a sign of a larger issue. 

Not understanding how grips impact your guard. 

Your gripping — especially on the ground — determines what guard(s)  you can establish and also if you will be able to maintain your guard against an aggressive passer. 

If your gripping is off or you don’t know what grips you need. Your guard play won’t be efficient and you will always feel like you are behind your opponent. 

A good thought exercise is to think about your favorite guard positions. 

It could be closed guard, half guard, etc. 

Now, think about what grip(s) you need to establish that guard from no grips. 

This could be an easy one step process or a more detailed process. 

If this is easy, then you probably have thought a lot about this. 

If this is hard, then you need to understand something really important. Not understanding how your grips connect your guard might be what’s holding back your guard play. 

Lasso Guard Basics

Recently I posted on Reddit last week covering the different guard transitions that I use in tournaments which you can check out here and one big topic of interest was the lasso. 

The lasso is a pretty broad term for throwing one of your legs on your opponents arm or shoulder while they’re trying to pass. 

I know there’s more to it but we need a working definition. 

Any way there are two main lasso positions. 

There is the shallow lasso, which we usually use along side the same side sleeve grip with your leg resting on your opponents bicep or shoulder. The other hand usually can controlling the other sleeve. We call this the spider 🕷 lasso. 

shallow lasso

This lasso is great for slowing down a fast opponent and for transitioning into other guards like the De La Riva, spider guard, modified x-guard, and pretty much any other guard you can think of. 

The benefit to it is that it’s quick and easy to put into position although it takes some hip mobility to get the most out of it. 

We also have a lot of attacks like the triangle and omaplatta. 

The deep lasso is pretty much the same position except this time your foot goes deep between your opponents arm and armpit with your foot turning inward towards their back. Almost like you’re kicking them with your shin. 

deep lasso

The power behind the deep lasso is that it will slow your opponent down even more than the shallow lasso as well as create a lot of leverage to help you sweep your opponent. 

Athletes like Shane Jamil Hill, Marcos Tinoco and Nicholas Meregali use this deep lasso to sweep everyone. 

A few downsides are that it’s harder to get in place than the shallow lasso and it might be harder to use on a larger opponent with a great base. 

But like any guard position it’s all about how you use it. 

I personally prefer the shallow lasso in my game but they are both effective and both work for their own unique situations. 

Which ever one you prefer, just make sure that you spar with both so you understand how they work. 

Check out my lasso video here and give it a thumbs up if you like it