What Are The Most Common Illegal Moves In BJJ You Should Consider Before Competing

What Are The Most Common Illegal Moves In BJJ You Should Consider Before Competing

For a first-time competitor in BJJ, it can be confusing knowing what you can and can’t do. Before you step on the mat, you have to have a clear understanding of the rules of the tournament.  

Each tournament/organization has a different list of rules, but for beginners it is generally almost the same. Look below as we list the most common illegal moves in BJJ you should consider before training. We’ll also give you a quick rundown of the illegal moves and why you can’t do them. 

Most Common Illegal Moves in BJJ

You Can't Slam Your Opponent

One of the most common illegal moves in BJJ is the slam. The slam is probably the move that gets competitors DQ’d at a tournament. Particularly wrestlers and really strong overzealous competitors.  

There are two types of slams that are illegal and they are from standing and in guard. From standing, you cannot pick your competitor up over your head and slam them like in the WWE. That is an immediate DQ and you’ll be out of the tournament.  

Slamming from the guard is when you’re stuck in guard and pick them up and slam them to get out. Also a very illegal move in BJJ that’ll get you DQ’d immediately. 

No Striking

Of course this shouldn’t have to be explained, but there is no striking of any kind allowed at a BJJ tournament.  

You cannot punch, kick, knee, or elbow your opponents. Doing so will probably get you blackballed from most BJJ tournaments. So if you want to hit people, then go do MMA – this is not where you do it! 

No Striking

No Fingers In The Eyes

You cannot put your fingers in an opponent’s eyes or any other orifices for that matter. You probably already know these are illegal moves in BJJ, but they’re just here as a reminder. 

No Bending Fingers

Another illegal move in a BJJ tournament is bending an opponent’s fingers. Though it can be tempting at times when you are in a bad position, you cannot grab an opponent’s finger and bend it backwards.  

Although, in some tournaments beginners are allowed to do wrist locks, so check the legal submissions allowed before competing. Typically wristlocks are allowed at the Blue Belt level. The opponent will hate you for trying to wrist lock them, but it can be an effective submission.

No Reaping Of The Knee

Reaping of the knee is an especially illegal move in IBJJF tournaments that’ll get you DQ’d real quick! Many don’t like this rule, but it is a rule the IBJJF adamantly enforces.  

The act of reaping the knee is when your leg/foot crosses over the outside of the opponent’s knee. This motion may injure an opponent’s knee and doing it will result in an immediate disqualification. 

Reaping Of The Knee

No Heel Hooks

Sorry to the beginners that may have been watching John Danaher’s leg lock system DVDs. You are not allowed to do any of those heel hooks he shows at nearly any tournament as a beginner.  

Beginners and heel hooks are a dangerous mix. They can either hurt their opponent’s knee twisting too quickly or get their knee seriously injured by not tapping.You’re allowed to do straight ankle locks without reaping the knee, but that is about it. These types of leglocks are only allowed in the higher belt levels

No Neck Cranks

Do not try to twist your opponent’s head off at a tournament. Neck cranks are a highly illegal move in most BJJ tournaments and could seriously injure your opponent. 

No Calf Or Biceps Slicers

In a lot of tournaments calf and bicep slicers are not allowed for anyone at any level. These submissions are when you put pressure on the calf or bicep muscles potentially causing a tear.  

Tearing these muscles can lead to your opponent being on the shelf with an injury for a few months. Hence, why they aren’t allowed at most BJJ tournaments. Some tournaments do allow them but on higher belt levels – be sure to check your tournament rules before you try it out in a match! 


Final Thoughts

For you beginners reading, these are 8 of the most common illegal moves in BJJ you should consider before training. As a beginner, you cannot do any of these moves in any tournament put on by the major BJJ organizations. Including all IBJJF or UAEJJF events.  

But the great thing about Jiu Jitsu, there is a library of legal moves you can use. For beginners, just remember these few common illegal moves you cannot do. Last thing you want is getting disqualified for something silly!