Do You Know Who Invented These BJJ Techniques?
If you have been training in Jiu-Jitsu for any length of time, you will have probably realized that there is little standardization regarding the terminology used to describe moves and techniques. On several occasions, I have seen the same technique taught in exactly the same way by two different instructors, but these have been given totally different names.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has its ancestry firmly rooted in traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu and Jigoro Kano’s Judo but has also been heavily influenced by many other grappling arts including Freestyle and Greco-Roman Wrestling, Sambo, Catch Wrestling, and even more traditional martial arts such as Aikido. As a consequence, the names used for techniques come from wide and varied sources.
There are some techniques, however, that are unmistakably associated with a particular name and will be recognizable to students everywhere. These techniques are eponymously associated with a person, place, or event, and there are often interesting and fun stories associated with them. The following list of eponymous techniques is not meant to be comprehensive, but simply represents the ones that I am most familiar with.
The Kimura lock is a figure-four shoulder lock known as Gyaku Ude-Garami in Judo. Its exact origin is uncertain, but its use certainly predates the origins of BJJ. It is also sometimes referred to as a ‘chicken-wing’ or double wristlock in Catch Wrestling. In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, however, it will forever be referred to as the Kimura, after the legendary Judoka Masahiko Kimura, who defeated Helio Gracie with the move in their famous challenge match on the 23rd October 1951.
A short highlight video of their match can be watched here; the Kimura submission can be seen at the end:
The use of the Kimura lock is now extremely commonplace in Jiu-Jitsu, and it has even been developed into an intricate attacking system called ‘The Kimura Trap system’ by Ricardo Teixeira black belt, David Avellan. In this system, Avellan utilises the Kimura lock from a variety of position and incorporates it into takedowns, takedown counters, sweeps, guard passes, and, of course, submissions.
2. THE AMERICANA
It is difficult to mention the Kimura lock, without also including the Americana. The two techniques have many similarities and work off a similar figure-four grip setup. In Judo it is referred to as the Ude-Garami, and it is often called the key-lock in Catch Wrestling.
The name ‘Americana’ is often attributed to a story in which the famous American wrestler Bob Anderson taught the technique to Rolls Gracie, and Rolls subsequently named it the ‘The Americana’ in his honour. This story is untrue though, and the true origin of the name remains a mystery. It was certainly being used in Rio in the Jiu-Jitsu community as far back as the 1950s, and it may well have proliferated due to a different American wrestler or Judoka that was commonly using it at the time.
3. THE EZEQUIEL CHOKE
The Ezequiel choke, often written ‘Ezekiel’, is one of my absolute favourite submissions because of its incredible versatility and the large number of set-ups that can be used. This technique was named after the Brazilian Olympic Judoka, Ezequiel Paraguassu, who competed in the 1988 Seoul and 1992 Brazil Olympic games.
Before the Seoul Olympics Paraguassu trained extensively with team Carlson Gracie and became renowned for tapping opponents with the Sode Guruma Jime choke from within his opponent’s guards. Following the 1992 Olympics Paraguassu moved to Switzerland and was apparently totally unaware that the technique had become so widespread in BJJ, and that his name was being eponymously used to describe it. He only found out 19 years later, when he overheard another instructor coaching a student to use Ezequiel choke.
Below you can see my Instructor, Nic, demonstrating the choke in much the same way that it was used by Paraguassu, from within the opponent’s guard:
4. DE LA RIVA GUARD
The de la Riva guard position is n extremely popular in Jiu-Jitsu currently and was made famous by the incredible Ricardo de la Riva. This guard position is one of my favourite options when playing open guard and no-one can deny its effectiveness in controlling and closing down an opponents passing game. In this guard position, one leg is wrapped around the back of the opponents lead leg from the outside, usually with the ankle or Gi pants controlled with one hand, and the other hand gripping the opposite sleeve or collar.
De La Riva trained with Carlson Gracie in the heyday of the legendary Carlson Gracie Academy in Rio. The training was tough and abrasive and in keeping with Carlson’s aggressive style of jiu-jitsu. Ricardo de la Riva, however, was a much smaller man than many of his contemporaries and he spent long periods of time fighting from underneath larger, stronger opponents with aggressive passing styles. It was during this period that he developed and mastered the de la Riva guard position.
While this position was certainly elaborated upon and developed into a very slick and sophisticated system by de la Riva, the pattern of leg entanglement it involves predates him by many years, and it has long been used in Judo newaza, albeit in a somewhat more primitive manner. In the video below you can see 9th Dan Judo Master Tsunetane Oda demonstrating a sweep from a very ‘de la Riva’ like guard position in the early 1900’s:
5. THE PERUVIAN NECKTIE
The Peruvian necktie is a submission that has elements of both a neck crank and a choke. It is essentially a modified guillotine type choke from a front headlock position on a turtled opponent. The arms are threaded in an ‘over-under’ pattern with the hands gripped underneath the opponent’s chin. The leg on the ‘arm-over’ side is then thrown over the opponents back, and the submission is applied by leaning back and applying pressure to the opponent’s neck.
The origin of this submission is attributed to the Peruvian professional mixed martial artist and BJJ black belt Tony DeSouza, who apparently is the man responsible for modifying the guillotine and naming the move. C.B.Dollaway famously pulled off the move against Jesse Taylor at UFC 186. Here’s a video of Pat Curran using it in Bellator:
6. RUBBER GUARD
The Rubber Guard position is an open guard variant where the guard player grabs his own shin with the opposite side arm across the opponent’s back with the palm facing upwards and the forearm pressing on the front of the opponent’s collarbone. It is an extremely effective means of controlling the opponent’s posture and leads into a system of sweeps and submissions.
The exact origin of the position is unknown, but it was first seen on the competition circuit being used by Nino Schembri in the late 1990s. The position was later named ‘The Rubber Guard’ and further developed and refined by Eddie Bravo and forms a large part of his famous 10th Planet system. It is particularly effective in ‘No-Gi’ grappling and is now commonly seen in the submission grappling and MMA world.
7. THE WILLIAMS GUARD
The Williams Guard is another open guard variant that bears some similarity to the Rubber Guard position. It is a version of the High Guard where the guard player makes a palm-to-palm grip underneath his own leg, and over the opponent’s shoulder. Much like the Rubber Guard it is an effective means of controlling the opponent’s posture but is more dependent on making effective angles and less dependent on hip and knee flexibility than the Rubber Guard.
The position is named after Renzo Gracie black belt, Shawn Williams, who apparently accidentally stumbled upon it whilst rolling. It proved to be so effective that he returned to the position and developed it into his own trademark guard system.
8. THE ESTIMA LOCK
The final technique on this list is the Estima Lock. This very nasty footlock was developed by Victor Estima in 2009 while training with his brother Braulio in preparation for the ADCC Championships. Victor apparently was struggling to cope with Braulio’s inverted guard when Braulio’s foot got stuck on his midsection. Victor wrapped the foot with a rear-naked choke type grip and tapped out his brother immediately. The pair then worked on perfecting the technique, and Victor famously submitted all of his opponents at the 2011 No-Gi World Championships using the footlock.
You can watch Victor demonstrating the technique with his brother Braulio in the following video:
Ultimately, what you call a move doesn’t matter, the execution and applicability of the technique is the only important thing. It is fun to know the background, however, and the stories behind the creation and introduction of these techniques can be fascinating.
If there are any eponymous techniques that you feel should be added to this list, feel free to comment on this post or message us with your favorite technique and maybe we can add a part 2!