Grapplers Graveyard

BJJ Basics: BJJ Knee on Belly

bjj knee on belly

This post is meant for those who are super new to the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I know how uncomfortable it may be to ask these types of questions in class for fear of looking bad but that is why you come here. This post is meant for those who may not get the attention they need to understand the positions they struggle with but still want to progress and get better.

BJJ Knee on Belly

The knee on the belly is one of the most common positions you will find yourself either doing or being put into. Understanding the basics of this position will be crucial to your development and progress as an athlete in this sport.

In the beginning, you may only be able to come up with a handful of attacks or progressions from knee to belly but I promise you as you train more your creativity from this spot will blossom. There is so much you can do from here it would be impossible for me to list everything. Knee of Belly is a position that is rewarded points when properly secured in a competition setting. Having a position properly secured means 1) your opponent is not moving or 2) you are holding your balance on their body for about three seconds.

Knowing how to get out of this tough spot can be a make-or-break thing for those that plan on competing.

Common Ways to Get the Position

Finding yourself in knee on belly typically happens from a scramble or when the attacker is trying to pass guard. Again, I know I find myself in this position very often so understanding the key points here is crucial for your success.

There are millions of ways to pass someone’s guard but typically when the attacker is in a standing position and it looking to advance, they will find themselves in a place to apply knee on belly to the person on the bottom.

Maintaining Control

Maintaining control of knee on belly is probably the hardest part especially when the opponent is well-versed in how to escape from the position. What I personally like to do is go for the main points of contact found on the bottom knee (from the attacker’s point of view) and the near side collar (again attacker’s point of view and only in Gi).

Here are some key points to be aware of when trying to maintain the control of this position:

  • Control near side collar (gi) or cup/grip near side elbow/arm/neck area

  • Put your body weight into your knee and drive pressure to the sternum

  • The leg not on your opponent should be aligned with the defender’s shoulder line

Principles You Can Focus on

  1. Control is the number one thing to focus on

  2. Secure the position before advancing

  3. Watch how your opponent reacts to the pressure applied, one mistake on their end can create an opening for submissions like armbars or kimuras

  4. Play around with different advancements of positions (side control, switch sides, mount, etc.)

How to Escape Knee on Belly

The best way I have learned how to escape knee on belly is by focusing on the knee that is in my sternum. That becomes priority number one for me to get out of the already bad position that I have found myself in.

Typically, I am doing one of these two things:

  • Both hands pushing on the knee and shrimping away to create space

  • Underhooking around their ankle area and pulling their base out from underneath them to knock them off balance, shrimping away, and pushing on their shoulder with my opposite hand to try and come up for a scramble

There are a million and one ways to play a game from knee on belly both from an attacking standpoint and a defending standpoint. I don’t think there is a “right” way to do it. Your game develops more as you test and try out new things so be sure to put on your creativity cap and put yourself in the mindset of always staying curious.

Pressure Passing & Control