BJJ instructionals: how can you use them to make faster progress at BJJ?
BJJ instructionals are video courses. They teach you about a position or technique in a comprehensive, systematic way.
The cool thing about BJJ instructionals is that they enable you to learn from the best coaches and grapplers in the world without having to be with them in person.
In this article, I’ll break down…
- What are BJJ instructionals;
- Where to get BJJ instructionals (free and paid);
- A BJJ instructional training curriculum (and the best BJJ instructionals per belt level);
- and how to get the most out of your BJJ instructional.
Let’s dive in.
BJJ Instructionals Guide: Quick Links
- What Is A BJJ Instructional? (How They’re Different From YouTube)
- Where To Get BJJ Instructionals
- BJJ Instructional Training Curriculum (& Best BJJ Instructionals)
- How To Get The Most Out Of A BJJ Instructional
- Takeaway Thoughts
What Is A BJJ Instructional? (How They’re Different From YouTube)
Have you ever opened up YouTube, searched for a BJJ technique, tried it in class — and completely forgotten it 2 weeks later?
I’ve been there, fellow grappler. There’s a better way.
And unlike random YouTube videos, BJJ instructionals are systematic. They help you integrate a move or position into your game so that it sticks.
For example, you could YouTube “mount escapes” and find a cool mount escape or two.
Or you could study John Danaher’s New Wave Jiu Jitsu: A New Philosophy Of Positional Escapes. Not only will you learn specific mount escapes techniques, but you’ll learn a system for escaping mount — and the reason why the escapes work.
That’s what makes BJJ instructionals far more effective than random, one-off videos.
“You also buy clarity on what NOT to watch with an instructional. What’s annoying about Youtube is that after watching a video, Youtube suggests another video which might be a) horse s***, b) repeating exactly what I just watched, or c) also valid but not complementary to what I just watched. So Youtube wastes a ton of my time.” –u/LogicallySpeaking_pc
Instructionals make it easier for you to remember what you learn. They help you develop your game over the long-term.
Where To Get BJJ Instructionals
There are several places to purchase high-quality BJJ instructionals, which I’ll list below.
Price: Free – $349 (per instructional)
BJJFanatics is the most popular website for BJJ instructionals. With over 1 million BJJ students, expert instructors, and lifetime video access, it’s a great platform for learning from the best instructors on the planet. They are almost always running deals, so you should be able to get a nice discount on the instructional that you’re looking to buy.
“BJJ fanatics has some of the best instructional content out there (e.g., danaher, Gordon, Melanson, etc.) but a lot of it is just great jiu-jítsu athletes who are NOT good instructors looking to get paid based off their name. Worth doing some research to find the good instructionals and buying them when they’re on sale.” –u/TheDietButcher
Price: $25 per month
Submeta is Lachlan Giles’s library of BJJ instructionals. It features hundreds of well-produced courses, exercises and quizzes to help you remember what you’ve learned, and a Netflix-style design. Lachlan is praised for his teaching ability and has some of the highest-rated instructionals ever made.
“Hot take but I really love Lachlan’s teaching style and the site is well designed. The quizzes at the end of lessons really help me grasp important elements (especially if I’m watching by myself and can’t physically try things). The progress bars and course stats make it feel like a video game not boring class work. I don’t think I can go back to watching “traditional” instructionals.” –u/Jimble_kimbl3
Price: $297 or $82×4
Grapplers Guide is a library of over 285 full-length instructionals, featuring expert coaches like JT Torres, Mikey Musumeci, Jonathan Thomas, and many more. Unlike BJJ Fanatics, with Grapplers Guide, you pay once and get the entire course catalog. It has other cool features like a native mobile app, GrappeFlow charting software, lesson notes, and more.
“GrapplersGuide.com is the best value for money, hands down. Breadth and a surprising amount of depth in a slightly clunky navigation. I got my entire lasso game from that site.” –u/DrFujiwara
Price: $19.99 per month
Roger Gracie TV is Roger Gracie’s BJJ instructional subscription platform. It features in-depth instructionals on every position and submission. It also includes live rolling footage of Roger and an “Ask Roger” feature where you can ask Roger specific questions about BJJ.
“It’s awesome. I love that his videos are 2 minutes. I hate nothing more than a 30 minute video to show one technique.” –u/Kneereaper
Price: $14.99 per month
Defensive BJJ is the website of Priit Mikhleson, infamous for his specialty in the bottom Turtle position. With over 600 instructional videos, a member’s forum, and personal sparring coaching, Defensive BJJ is a great platform for white and blue belts who are looking to improve their survival and escaping skills. They offer a generous $1 trial week so you can see how you like it.
“The defensive BJJ system is highly effective. When you use it, at first, you’ll be amazed at how effective it is at preventing many sub attempts and reversals. Then, after a while you’ll wonder, what if I bust out of here and counter attack or, oh my partner is over committing, I reckon I can get an armbar or a leg lock etcc and then you realise, you have a very cool bait and trap system.” –u/Meerkatsu
Price: $97-$127 (per instructional)
Grapplearts is Stephen Kesting’s website where he sells high-quality BJJ instructionals. It features dozens of courses on everything from specific positions to concepts. Stephan Kesting is highly praised by beginners in particular with clear instruction and a straightforward teaching style.
“In terms of instruction quality, that depends on who’s coaching. In terms of formatting, they’re among the best. In terms of video/audio quality, they’re a good deal better than BJJFanatics but not at the very tip of the iceberg like Caio’s Modern Fundamentals. Like others have said, some of Kesting’s early material is a little dated now, but the newer stuff is, IMO, quite good. Or at least what I’ve seen is.” –u/JitaKyoei
Price: $79-$139 per instructional
Jon Thomas has instructionals on Grapplers Guide, Grapplearts, and some free ones on YouTube — but his personal website is where he has his best, most in-depth content. Jon is known for his principle-based approach and only teaches techniques that he’s used successfully in competition.
“I love his mental approach to bjj. He’s definitely one of the earliest proponents of specific training and making grappling a series of “mini-games”. My collar sleeve and long distance guards have benefited immensely from his teachings. Thank you Macarrao!” –u/bunerzissou
8. BJJ Library
Price: $24.99 per month
If you like the book Jiu-Jitsu University — but find it easier to learn BJJ from videos rather than pictures — then you’ll love BJJ Library. Saulo Ribeiro wrote Jiu-Jitsu University and BJJ Library is the Ribeiro brother’s digital, video-based version of the book. With over 2600 videos, it’s one of the most comprehensive libraries of BJJ techniques on the web.
“I have used both along with most of the other popular ones (AOJ, Marcelo, Estima, and Atos). I have found none that I like and use more than Bjjlibrary. Some of the others have better website layouts/navigation but the material on Bjjlibrary is second to none. Saulo tends to be kind of “wordy” in his videos which I know is a bit of a turnoff for some but his details are solid gold. I learn something new every time I watch one of his videos.” –u/nebjjfitness
Price: $20 per month
BJJConcepts is run by Rob Biernacki, an r/BJJ favorite for his conceptual approach to teaching BJJ. Like John Danaher, Rob emphasizes teaching the “why” for why techniques work instead of teaching techniques in isolation. His approach is especially helpful if you’re an upper belt who teaches lower bells.
“It’s an excellent resource for conceptual jiu-jitsu. The conceptual framework Rob has developed is foundational to my approach to learning jiu-jitsu, and if I’m ever an instructor, it will form much of the basis for my teaching.” –u/ThomasGilroy
10. Juji Club
Price: $45-$97 per instructional
Juji Club is run by Firas Zahabi, owner of Tristar Gym in Montreal, Canada. Firas was one of the coaches of UFC champion Georges St. Pierre. At Juji Club, he teaches everything from building a stronger body to handle the demands of BJJ to the specifics of bodylock passing.
“There is a lot of information cross over from the concepts he introduces within his free seminar videos. Other than that, his teaching style is great and extremely efficient/streamlined.” –u/ThatThingOverTher
You can find thousands of BJJ videos on YouTube and watch them for free. But it’s rare to find a full, comprehensive instructional for free.
If I missed any great BJJ instructional websites, please let me know in the comments below!
BJJ Instructional Training Curriculum (& Best BJJ Instructionals)
Let’s say you wanted to train under someone like John Danaher (without moving all the way to Austin TX).
What instructionals should you buy, and in what order, if you want to make the fastest possible progress?
Below is a rough outline of the best BJJ instructionals based on your belt level.
I put this together after studying John Danaher, Gordon Ryan, Jiu-Jitsu University, and countless other BJJ podcasts and articles. I also searched through reddit’s BJJ community (r/BJJ) to find the best teachers and instructionals, all of which I share below.
Best BJJ Instructionals For White Belts
“The theme of the white belt is survival, nothing more and nothing less. After all, this is what the white belt has to do from the first day of class. He is not going to arrive in class and beat the best. He has no one to whom he can compare himself because he is still an empty vessel. Although one often takes up jiu-jitsu to learn submissions, the first lesson for the beginner is survival. Before he moves on, the white belt must become a survivor.”
-Saulo Ribeiro, Jiu-Jitsu University
As a white belt, you’re new to jiu-jitsu. At this level, you want to focus primarily on survival and escapes. Why? Because these skills will keep you in the fight. As a new grappler, more experienced grapplers are going to put you in bad positions. You’ll naturally be put in bad positions as you roll. This is the perfect time to work on becoming hard to submit.
For white belts, I also recommend building a strong foundation so you can stay on the mats as long as possible. That means learning about strength training and mobility to supplement your BJJ training.
Based on the quote above, here are the best BJJ instructionals for a white belt:
- Self Mastery: Solo BJJ Training Drills By John Danaher
- Mobility Fundamentals: Grapplers Guide To Warm Up & Cool Down By Michael Sergi
- Weight Training For Grappling By Michael Israetel
- The Sport Of Kings: High-Performance Mindset For Grappling By Gordon Ryan
- Foundations Of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu By Bernardo Faria
- Jiu-Jitsu Theory Course by Jordan Presinger
- Pin Escapes & Turtle Escapes: BJJ Fundamentals – Go Further Faster By John Danaher
- New Wave Jiu Jitsu: A New Philosophy Of Positional Escapes By John Danaher
Best BJJ Instructionals For Blue Belts
“Personally, I think the white and blue belt stages of development are the perfect time to learn how to escape. Students in these stages are still too inexperienced for complicated attack sequences, combinations, and perfect weight distribution, but they do find themselves in poor positions quite often. This is why it is so important for white and blue belts to drill at this level.”
–Saulo Ribeiro, Jiu-Jitsu University
As a blue belt, you’re still considered a beginner at jiu-jitsu. At this level, you’re still working on your survival and escape skills. You might understand the general principles and concepts around survival and escapes, and now, you’ll start studying the finer details of how to escape submissions. You’re also starting to expand your repertoire of positions and techniques to get a feel for what works best for you.
Based on the quote above, here are the best BJJ instructionals for a blue belt:
- Exit The System By Garry Tonon
- The Running Man & The Baby Bridge: Essential Postures To Keep You Safe By Priit Mihkelson
- The Pillars Of Defense: Pin Escapes – Defensive To Offensive Cycles By Gordon Ryan
- The Pillars Of Defense: Back Escapes By Gordon Ryan
- Pillars Of Defense: Upper Body Joint Lock Escapes By Gordon Ryan
- The Gripfighting and Kuzushi Formula, with Rob Biernacki and Stephan Kesting
- Just Stand Up By Craig Jones
- Get Off My Legs Gringo By Craig Jones
Best BJJ Instructionals For Purple Belts
“As with every other position, you will learn the guard at the white belt level. However, it is not until purple belt that you will really feel the guard falling into place. At purple belt, you should see your guard developing into a game full of defense, sweeps, reversals, favorite positions, and combinations. This is not to say that your guard will be ineffective at the white and blue belt levels, only that in those earlier levels you will have more important things on which to focus your development.”
“The goal for the purple belt is to dive into the guard only when his survival skills and escape skills are at a solid level. Then, he will have the confidence to attempt whatever he wants without having to suffer for his attempts. Once again, build your guard on top of a strong foundation.”
–Saulo Ribeiro, Jiu-Jitsu University
Based on the quote above, here are the best BJJ instructionals for a purple belt:
- Guard Retention Anthology Bundle By Lachlan Giles & Ariel Tabak
- The Half Guard Anthology By Lachlan Giles
- The Roger Gracie Closed Guard System By Roger Gracie
- Open Guard: BJJ Fundamentals – Go Further Faster by John Danaher
- The Complete Butterfly Guard System by Marcelo Garcia
- Power Bottom By Craig Jones
- Modern De La Riva Guard by Jonathan Thomas
- New Wave Jiu Jitsu: Open Guard Vol 2: Sweeps And Reversals By John Danaher
Best BJJ Instructionals For Brown Belts
“Passing the guard becomes a pivotal part of the brown belt’s game and must be understood before reaching the black belt. The brown belt needs to develop his awareness, balance, and sensitivity so that he can adapt his passing principles to many types of opponents and guard games. Once again, the brown belt can do so because he has developed the building blocks of his survival, escapes, and particularly his guard, to a high level.”
“The brown belt is the guard-passing belt because a student needs the experience and knowledge of guard games in order to become an efficient passer. Just as soldiers become field commanders, guard players often make great passers because they know what it takes to control the guard; therefore, they understand how to deconstruct the position as well.”
–Saulo Ribeiro, Jiu-Jitsu University
Based on the quote above, here are the best BJJ instructionals for a brown belt:
- Systematically Attacking The Guard By Gordon Ryan
- The Body Lock Pass By Lachlan Giles
- Passing The Guard: BJJ Fundamentals – Go Further Faster By John Danaher
- New Wave Jiu Jitsu: No Gi Guard Passing By John Danaher
- The Guard Passing Anthology: Half Guard By Lachlan Giles
- Buzzsaw Passing: Gi by Andrew Wiltse
- How To Pass Guards Quickly And Easily Using Leg Attacks By Craig Jones
- Loose Passing By Ethan Crelinsten
Best BJJ Instructionals For Black Belts
“For most students, the submission is their favorite course to study, but it is also one of the smallest parts of the jiu-jitsu game. When you consider the time spent sparring and competing, the smallest percentage of that is the finishing submission. A good analogy for this is surfing. Most surfers dream of big tube rides and carves, but the majority of their time is spent paddling. So, what is more important to learn, paddling or aerials? For the lower belts, it is best to learn the foundation of jiu-jitsu as presented in this book. The submissions from the top are the end of the road, just as aerials are for surfers.”
“The black belt student should be well rounded in his jiu-jitsu skills by this point and the top game is the place where he can dominate with submission attempts. He must learn two aspects of this game: to flow between submissions in order to overwhelm his opponent and to direct his opponent into his submission. Dominate the position and submit!”
–Saulo Ribeiro, Jiu-Jitsu University
Based on the quote above, here are the best BJJ instructionals for a black belt:
- High Percentage Submissions By Bernardo Faria
- New Wave Jiu Jitsu: Mounted Pin Attacks – The 4×4 Mount System By John Danaher
- The Straight Armlock Anthology By Lachlan Giles
- Systematically Attacking The Turtle Position By Gordon Ryan
- Systematically Attacking From Top Pins: Side Control & North South By Gordon Ryan
- Systematically Attacking The Back By Gordon Ryan
- Leglocks: Enter The System By John Danaher
- High Percentage Chokes: No Gi By Lachlan Giles
You don’t have to follow this curriculum as-is. There’s nothing stopping you from studying a back attack instructional as a blue belt. It’s just a general guide based on what I’ve learned from the greats.
Consider a hobbyist grappler who trains 3 times per week. Compare them to a grappler who trains 3 times a week AND is following the curriculum above. I’d reckon the latter will make much faster progress.
How To Get The Most Out Of A BJJ Instructional
So, you’ve just invested in a BJJ instructional. You want to make sure that you actually watch it and integrate it into your game so you can get the most out of it.
Here is a method to help you get the most out of any instructional you purchase.
- Pick an instructional based on my curriculum above or whatever you’re interested in improving.
- Spend 25 undistracted minutes per day watching the instructional. Take notes on what you learn and would like to try in class.
- Go into each training session/open mat with a goal in mind: to execute something you learned in your instructional. This is called “specific training,” and is how Gordon Ryan trains.
- Spend 8-10 weeks doing specific training based on one instructional. It takes 66 days to make a new habit. So, if you spend around 66 days to make what you learn in the instructional a habit, that means you’ve integrated it into your game.
- After your rolls, write down in your BJJ journal:
- What did I do well?
- What did I do badly?
- What could I do better during next class?
- Before the next class, review your BJJ journal entry from the last class. Read what you did badly, and try and improve on that next class.
- Periodically review the instructional and continue to do specific training on it for 8-10 weeks.
Watching 1 instructional per quarter is 4 instructionals per year. That’s roughly 8 instructional per belt level. Imagine if you could get really good at 4 aspects of BJJ per year on top of what you’re already learning in class. You’d progress much, much faster than the rest of your training partners who aren’t doing the same.
By using instructionals, specific training, and a BJJ journal, you’ll be able to feel your improvement in BJJ.
It might seem rigorous, but watching instructionals while implementing specific training is a very fun way to train. And it’s exciting when you can clearly see your progress from class to class.
BJJ instructionals are one of the best ways to take your game to the next level.
- Know where to find the best instructionals.
- Pick an instructional that intrigues you.
- Spend 25 minutes a day watching the instructional, and take notes.
- Practice specific training: go into the open mat attempting to implement what you learn in the instructional.
- Keep a BJJ journal to keep track of your progress.
- Spend 8-10 weeks per instructional (or 4 per year) to turn what you’ve learned into a habit.
- Rinse and repeat — forever.
If you do this, not only will you have more fun training — but you’ll progress at least twice as fast as your training partners who aren’t doing the same.
What’s your favorite BJJ instructional, and how did it impact your game? Do you have any ideas for how to improve by BJJ instructional training program?
Leave a comment in the section below and let me know there.
I’m always on the lookout for new instructionals or ways to improve this method.
Happy rolling. 🤙
BJJ Equipment, an assistant BJJ instructor at InFighting, and a BJJ blue belt. He's a passionate hobbyist and BJJ gear/equipment aficionado. He launched BJJ Equipment in 2022 to make it easy for grapplers to find the best BJJ gear so they look, feel, and perform at their best on the mats.