by Ritchie Yip
The ultimate guide to BJJ solo drills is a quick reference to exercises you can do on your own to help you with your Jiu Jitsu.
The guide was designed for the absolute BJJ beginner in mind. However, even advanced practitioners may see drills in this guide that they haven’t seen before or perhaps they’ve forgotten about.
Table of Contents
BJJ Solo Drills: Guard and Bottom Position
The first section is predominately about moments that’ll help you attack and maintain your Guard. Thus, all these movements are from your back.
Rock And Kick
In Jiu Jitsu, we want to be able to move smoothly and easily when we’re on our backs. The Rock And Kick drill is a primary way to introduce beginners how to create momentum with their legs and torso.
Isolate your lower abs and kick up to the ceiling. Kicking your legs up to the sky will help many Guard attacks like Triangle Chokes, Armbars and Omoplatas.
Most successful Guard attacks will have some degree of angle change. The Omoplata, Armbar and Triangle Choke all demand a pivot of your torso. The 180 Rock will help you facilitate angle changes from the Guard.
Rocking S Sit
Primarily, the Rocking S Sit mimics the movement of the Omoplata. In addition, it’s a great dynamic stretch to do at the beginning of class.
Alternating S Sit
Maintaining balance and building core strength is critical to Jiu Jitsu. The Alternating S Sit builds both these things while raising the coordination in your legs.
The Gyro looks simple but it’s not easy. Ultimately, this takes a fair degree of core strength and coordination to do. However, the Gyro is great for building up your Closed Guard skills.
The Rope Pull mimics your attacks from Butterfly Guard. Imagine yourself hitting an Arm Drag. Or attacking with a Seating Single Leg when you’re doing your Rope Pulls.
Push The Wall
By Pushing The Wall, you’re defending a Guard Pass. Or maybe you’re creating space from an attempted Single Leg. Be sure to keep these techniques in mind as you’re Pushing The Wall.
Think of the Granby like a cartwheel; but, instead of going over your hands, you’ll be going over your shoulders. The Granby is a great way to retain your Guard. As well as defending takedowns and back takes.
Backwards Shoulder Rolls
Jiu Jitsu is called “rolling”; thus, turning yourself into a ball and rolling like a ball is essential. It should be noted that your head should never touch the ground. Having your weight only on your shoulder will keep your neck safe.
Forward Shoulder Rolls
Previously, we looked at the Backwards Shoulder Roll. The exact same except you’re going forwards. Remember, keep your body like a ball, tuck your chin and keep your head off the mat.
Bridging is where you’re trying to develop power when you’re on your back. Keep in mind that you want to drive with your toes and that you want to find the floor with your eyes to maximize your bridge.
Similar to the previous technique; however, the Explosive Bridge will have you start with your feet off the ground. And slam into the floor emphatically. Having an explosive, sudden Bridge in Jiu Jitsu will help you get out of some sticky situations.
Single Leg Bridge
Contrary to the previous types of Bridging, the Single Leg Bridge has you drive your hip up with only one leg on the ground. Not only with this help you with your escapes but the Single Leg Bridge is necessary for Guard Submissions like the Triangle Choke and the Armbar.
Bridge And Turn
An addition to the conventional Bridge. The Bridge And Turn is the movement you’d do to escape Cross Side to get to Four Point.
The Technical Standup
The Technical Standup is the first technique that everyone should learn when they’re first introduced to Jiu Jitsu. Standing up in a safe, specific manner is the cornerstone of solid Jiu Jitsu. Be sure to practice the Technical Standup on both your elbow and your hand.
Similar to footwork for Boxing, Shrimping is just footwork when you’re on your back. You’ll use Shrimping to maintain the distance between you and your partner. Shrimping is a critical skill for Jiu Jitsu and should be practiced every class.
Stationary Shrimp One Foot
If space is limited, try doing Stationary Shrimping. In addition, make this harder by only using one leg on the ground. Most importantly, focus on keeping your elbow and knee together.
Shrimping On One Foot
Typically, when you’re rolling with your partner, you’ll be Shrimping with one foot. The other foot will be used as a frame to keep your partner from smashing you.
Shrimping Alternate Foot
Be sure to practice Shrimping with your left foot if you’re on your right shoulder. Being able to fight with both feet is critical for Jiu Jitsu.
Leg Circles are required for Guard Retention and Guard Attacks. Keep in mind, you’ll need to pivot your hips and use your abs to do your Leg Circles.
Previously, we looked at Leg Circles. At this time, let’s talk about Egg Beaters which is basically Leg Circles done with both legs. Be sure to practice going in both directions.
Earlier, we discussed how Shrimping is like footwork when you’re on your back. The Shoulder Shuffle acts like the same thing as Shrimping. However, the key difference is that your hip is consistently off the ground.
Previously, with the Shoulder Shuffle, we were moving on our back with our shoulders. Similarly, the Crab Walk is a method of moving but with our hands.
At this time, let’s simulate a submission attack from the Guard. Rock up and kick up your legs to enter into a Triangle Choke.
180 Triangle Choke
Before, we looked at a simple Triangle Choke drill. Progressively, try the Triangle Choke drill with a 180 degree turn. The 180 turn will mimic the angle you’ll need to achieve when you hit the Triangle Choke in class.
Double Triangle Choke
Additionally, you can double up on your Triangle Choke Drill. Try hitting the Triangle Choke on the right side and the left side in one elevation of your hips. By doing this drill, you’ll garner coordination and speed for your Triangle Choke.
BJJ Solo Drills: Guard Passing and Top Position
The next section of the BJJ Solo Drills guide will focus on Guard Passing.
The Monkey Shuffle drill is a great way to build endurance and coordination when passing any type of Open Guard.
The Short Knee Cut
The Knee Cut Guard Pass is the most common Guard Pass on the planet. Here’s a quick drill to help you master switching your hips.
The Knee Cut
Previously, we looked at the Knee Cut Guard Pass as a short compact motion. At this time, try the Knee Cut with just one hand on the ground; and thus, creating a deeper follow through motion. Not only is this movement great to Jiu Jitsu, it’s also important in wrestling. In wrestling, it’s called a Sit Out.
Quick Knee Cut
Earlier, we looked at the Knee Cut drill. At this time, try the Knee Cut drill but do it as fast as you can and allow your hips to hit the ground to help you get a quick transition.
Single Side Knee Cut
Further to our Knee Cut series of drills, here we’ve isolated just one leg. This one’s a real barn burner and gets your heart pumping in no time!
Knee Cut With A Follow Through
Now, we’re going to follow through with our Knee Cut. Think of this drill as two kicks. Kick across with the left leg and then kick over with the right. This drill simulates a Knee Cut Guard Pass along with solidifying the Cross Side position.
Standing Knee Cut
Lastly, in our Knee Cut series, we’re looking at the Knee Cut from standing. This simulates a fast, opportunistic style of Guard Passing from any Open Guard scenario.
The Long Step Guard Pass drill simulates one of the most effective Guard Passes that you can do from Half Guard. As well, this drill simulates the Back Step Pass from Half Guard.
The Pepper Mill simulates running around someone’s Guard. The Pepper Mill also simulates taking someone’s Back as your partner turtles to defend the Guard Pass.
Pepper Mill On Your Elbow
A slightly harder variation of the Pepper Mill Drill from earlier. Keep in mind that you need to have your hips up for the movement to be effective.
Pepper Mill On Your Shoulder
At this time, try the Pepper Mill on your shoulder. This is the most difficult variation of the drill. Be sure to keep your hips up as high as you can during this movement.
The Bear Crawl is a great warm up for any BJJ class. Stay on your toes as you do the Bear Crawl and this will help your agility for your Guard Passing.
The Donkey Kick helps you develop power and explosiveness in your Guard Passing. This exercise also drives up your heart rate so it’s a fantastic burnout drill during your BJJ class warm up.
The Scorpion Kick helps you understand how to generate power with your lower body when you’re on your hands. The Scorpion Kick is a fundamental movement that’s a part of passing the Butterfly Guard or when you’re hitting the Folding Pass.
Ski Slopes will help you develop the agility you need to switch directions quickly when you’re Passing Guard.
When you’re Guard Passing, you’ll need to get up and over your partner’s Guard is a quick and explosive manner. Doing Spiderman’s will help you develop the athleticism you need to move quickly.
The Inch Worm is more a body weight exercise than a drill that specifically mimics Guard Passing. Nevertheless, for many types of Guard Passes like the Body Lock Guard Pass, you need to keep your hips low while pulling with your arms.
Hitting certain Guard Passes like the Folding Pass require you to keep your hips are low as possible while still driving forward. The Army Crawl will help you understand how to move forward as you stay glued to the floor.
Step Up From Kneeling
As you step up from a kneeling position, you’re mimicking the movement you do as you attempt to open your partner’s Closed Guard. This is a really important skill not only for Guard Passing but for Takedowns as well.
Standing Up From Kneeling
When you’re standing up from a kneeling position, image you’re standing up from inside your partner’s Closed Guard. Similarly, you’re also finishing a Takedown where you shot in with a kneeling position.
BJJ Solo Drills: Takedowns and Standing
These Solo Drills will help you with your Takedowns and your Takedown defences.
Double Leg Takedown
The Double Leg Takedown is the keystone technique for getting someone down to the ground. Proper head positioning, postural integrity and powering the entire technique with your legs is critical not only for this technique but for many other takedowns. The Double Leg Takedown should be a part of the warm up for every BJJ class.
The Walrus Walk
The Walrus Walk is meant to simulate a Sprawl is a defense to the Double Leg Takedown. The Sprawl can be difficult to learn as you need to be able to immediately fall so your hips are lower than your head. To help instinctualize this movement, I typically have my students do the Walrus Walk first.
The Sprawl is an effective way to defend the Double Leg Takedown. This movement is similar to a Burpee, only without the pushup. Hitting sprawls is a great way to your heart pumping quickly.
Sprawl/Double Leg Combo
By putting your Sprawl together with your Double Leg Takedown, you can mimic a sparring scenario. When you’re training, it’s critical to always combine a defensive move, like a sprawl, with an offensive technique, like a Double Leg.
Leg strength is critical for completing Takedowns. Further, having the mobility to move while in compromising positions is one of the keystone features of good wrestling. Try these Sumo Steps to condition your legs so they’re strong and ready for sparring live rounds.
Single Foot Hop
Balancing on one foot is a critically important skill for defending takedowns. If your partner wins control of one of your legs, it doesn’t immediately mean that they’ll also win the Takedown. Work on your balance and your Takedown defense will skyrocket!
Seated Break Falls
Learning how to fall safely is important for BJJ, Judo and Wrestling. The Breakfall is how you fall safely and without injuring yourself. The first step in learning the Breakfall is from a seated position.
Seated Breakfall – Hands and Feet
As you Breakfall, you want as much surface area to hit the mat as possible so that you don’t hurt your hip, shoulder or elbow. Try hitting the mat with both your hand and your foot so you diffuse as much of the impact as possible.
Breakfall From Your Feet
Learning how to fall can be troublesome especially if you’re a full grown adult. So as a gateway technique to help you as you fall from standing, try doing the Breakfall from a low squat. You’ll be closer to the ground and the fall won’t be nearly as intimidating.
Sample BJJ Solo Drills Workouts
Sample Workout 1
3 Rounds, 1 minute per exercise, 1 min break between rounds.
- Stationary Shrimp Right Foot
- Stationary Shrimp Left Foot
- Technical Standup – Alternating Right/Left
- Donkey Kicks
Sample Workout 2
3 Rounds, 1 minute per exercise, 1 min break between rounds.
- Quick Knee Cut
- Double Leg Takedown
- Triangle Choke
Sample Workout 3
3 Rounds, 1 minute per exercise, 1 min break between rounds.
- Single Foot Hop Right
- Single Foot Hop Left
- Scorpion Kick Right
- Scorpion Kick Left
About Ritchie Yip
Ritchie is a BJJ black belt and the head instructor at Infighting MMA based in downtown Vancouver and the Brentwood aread of Burnaby, BC.
He has helped me in literally hundreds of BJJ videos on my Youtube channel and was the featured instructor in The Precision Kickboxing Masterclass.