The First 3 Sweeps You Should Master In BJJ

BJJ beginners usually want to focus on one thing: submissions. After all, submissions are what most people picture when they think about BJJ or MMA. However, without a complete BJJ skillset, your opportunities to apply the submissions you learn will be limited. Therefore, in addition to escapes and defense, beginners should focus on mastering a few basic BJJ sweeps. Sweeps are beneficial for several reasons. For one, sweeps allow you to go from a neutral or poor position to a strong position. In addition, sweeps are great for self-defense, as they allow a light, small person to gain position on a heavy, large person. Without a good arsenal of sweeps, your BJJ game won’t be nearly as strong as it could be. In this article, we review the first 3 sweeps you should master in BJJ. 


What Is A BJJ Sweep?

A BJJ sweep allows a guard player to improve his or her position by disrupting an opponent’s balance and transitioning to a more dominant position. A perfectly timed sweep can turn a bad situation in BJJ into a great one. As such, sweeps are some of the most important techniques in BJJ. 


Scissor Sweep

The Scissor Sweep is one of the first sweeps that white belts learn in BJJ. Although it is extremely effective and relatively simple, it can be tough to pull off in practice. This often leads white belts to abandon it completely and move on to other types of sweeps. This is a big mistake. Although the scissor sweep takes time to master, it is well worth practicing. When mastered, this sweep works at all belt levels, and it enables a student in the bottom guard position to put his or her opponent in an inferior position. To perform the scissor sweep, do the following: 

  • From the closed guard position, grab ahold of your opponent’s collar and sleeve. The collar and sleeve you grab should both be on the same side. For the collar grip, make sure you get a nice, deep grip. And as for the sleeve, you may either grab the fabric by your opponent’s wrist or the fabric by your opponent’s elbow. 


  • With your grips secured, open your closed guard and place your knee opposite your grips across your opponent’s chest. This is known as a knee shield position. 


  • With your knee shield established, pull your opponent’s sleeve straight back towards you like you are checking the time on a wristwatch. This motion will disrupt your opponent’s balance. 


  • Place your free leg against your opponent’s knee. This will act as a fulcrum when you go for your sweep. 


  • With one knee against your opponent’s chest and your opposite leg against your opponent’s knee, cross your legs in a scissor motion. This will push your opponent’s body off to the side towards the direction of the fulcrum point (your leg). This rotation will cause your opponent to fall on his or her side. From here, you may establish top position.


The Hip Bump Sweep

The hip bump sweep is another simple yet powerful BJJ sweep that all BJJ white belts should learn. This sweep involves trapping an opponent’s arm and using explosive hip movement to place him or her on the ground. To perform the hip bump sweep, do the following:

  • From the closed guard position, pull your knees to your body in order to get your opponent to place his or her hands on the mat.


  • With your opponent’s hands on the mat, open your closed guard and post one of your hands on the mat beside you. (This will help you sit up to perform the sweep.)


  • Using your hand to push off the mat, elevate your hips towards your opponent in the direction of your posted arm.  


  • As you do so, twist your body towards the direction of your posted arm, and use your free arm to cup your opponent’s elbow, trapping his or her arm. 


  • Thrust your hips explosively in the direction of your posted arm and your opponent’s trapped arm. 


  • The rotation and momentum you create will sweep your opponent, placing you on top of him or her in the full mount position. 


The Flower Sweep

The flower sweep, also known as the pendulum sweep, is another powerful sweep that relies on heavy hip rotation to transfer an opponent from top position to bottom position. As with many sweeps, this sweep traps an opponent’s arm in order to prevent him or her from posting on the mat. To perform the flower sweep, do the following:  

  • Starting from the closed guard, take a same-side grip on one of your opponent’s sleeves.


  • Next, twist your upper torso towards the side opposite of the sleeve you are gripping, and use your other hand to grip your opponent’s pants on this side. 


  • After establishing your grips (one same-side sleeve grip and one same-side pants grip), swing your leg on the side of the trapped sleeve as far as you can from your opponent. Kick that leg up and toward your head, then explosively kick it down towards the mat. 


  • As you kick towards the mat, use your other leg to chop down against your opponent’s back, forcefully rolling him or her over.


Get to Work on Your Sweeps!

There are a ton of great sweeps in BJJ. However, before moving onto complicated and fancy techniques, every white belt should master the above basic BJJ sweeps in order to build a solid sweeping foundation. These 3 basic BJJ sweeps are considered the most fundamental ones in the game. If you master these basic moves, you should be sweeping your opponents in no time. In addition, these sweeps will work for you throughout your BJJ career. So, what are you waiting for? Get to work! 


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