What Moves Are Illegal At Each Belt Level In BJJ?

What Moves Are Illegal At Each Belt Level In BJJ?

Treading the waters of what moves at each belt level in BJJ can get a bit confusing. There are so many techniques that you can and cannot do depending on what belt you are. So how do you know what moves are illegal at each belt level?  

Sometimes you get so worried about what you can do in a competition that it affects your performance. Well now you don’t have to worry anymore, because we’re going to break it down for you.  

This is a complete list of what moves are illegal at each belt level in BJJ explained. We’ll list each illegal move by belt level and give a brief explanation why they’re illegal.  

For a reference for what moves are illegal by each belt level, we’re going to use IBJJF’s list of submissions. 

what are illegal moves

Illegal Moves For All Belt Levels

Here is a complete list of all of the moves that are not allowed at all belt levels. For whatever rank you are or whatever colored belt you have tied around your waist, these moves are highly illegal. 


No slams of any kind are allowed within IBJJF competitions. You cannot pick your opponent up and slam them from standing or pick them up from guard and slam them. This will get you an automatic disqualification.

Spinal Lock Without Choke:

There are no spinal locks of any kind allowed in IBJJF competitions. This includes the twister.

Locks Twisting The Knees:

You can do certain leg locks at every level, but none where you twist the knee of your opponent. That’s an automatic disqualification.

Knee Reaping:

For all levels you cannot reap the knee. The definition of this is when your outside leg horizontally crosses the opponent’s knee or their centerline. IBJJF has been known to strictly enforce this rule and have made some questionable calls, so be careful.

Scissor Takedown:

This takedown is used to deliberately hurt your opponent and is banned in just about every major competition. The IBJJF included.

Straight Ankle Lock Where You Turn The Foot Inward:

Straight ankle locks are allowed at all levels, but you have to turn the foot outward. You will be disqualified if you turn their foot inward toward the foot you aren’t attacking. 

Toe Hold Turning The Foot Outward:

When you do toe holds at brown and black belt, the foot must be turned inward. You cannot take a reverse toe hold grip and turn the foot outward in IBJJF competitions or most any organization

Bending Fingers Backwards:

Bending fingers are not allowed. However if you’re going for a wristlock, you must be holding all 4 fingers. 

Using The Opponent’s Belt Against:

You can never remove the opponent’s belt and use it against the to do takedowns or submissions. This includes your belt also.


No suplexes of any kind where you pick up the opponent and slam them are allowed. No matter how cool it may look it pro wrestling, don’t do it – highly illegal and will result in a DQ! 

Illegal Moves For White Belts

Compression Lock From Guard:

When a white belt has their opponent in guard, they cannot submit the opponent by doing a compression lock. This is when you wrap your arms behind your legs and squeeze the opponent. A compression lock can break an opponent’s ribs and some white belts may not know how to defend this technique. So it is deemed illegal by the IBJJF. 

Wrist Locks:

White belts are not allowed to use wrist locks in competition. Many don’t understand the power and will get their wrist broken fighting the submission. So for their own safety, wrist locks are illegal.

Bicep/Calf Slicer:

Compressing the bicep and calf muscles are not allowed for white belts. They can tear muscles and put a white belt out of training for weeks. 

Single Leg Takedown W/ Head On The Outside:

The reason why this technique is illegal for white belts is for safety reasons. They may not know how to do this single leg takedown properly and could seriously injure their neck or spine. 

All Leg Locks(Except Straight Ankle Lock):

Most white belts don’t grasp the dangers of leg locks, that’s the reason why the IBJJF has banned them, except for ankle locks.

Illegal Moves For BJJ Blue Belts And Purple Belts

Bicep/Calf Slicers:

Blues and purples also cannot use any compression locks on the calf or bicep of their opponents, certainly they have to wait until brown belt. 

Toe Holds:

Toe holds are not allowed at the blue and purple belts levels. 

Knee Bars:

No knee bars allowed for blue and purple belts in IBJJF competitions

Heel Hooks:

No heel hooks allowed at these levels in IBJJF competitions. 

Illegal Moves For Brown And Black Belts

For brown the black belts being the highest ranked, they can do more than the lower ranks. The moves that are illegal at this level are exactly the same, except for one new rule change we’ll cover. 

Heel Hook:

This used to be one of the only moves illegal for the upper belts – until recently! The IBJJF just changed this rule and are allowing heel hooks both brown and black belts. Huge news and going to definitely shake up things in these divisions! 

Final Thoughts

After reading our list you should have a better understanding of what moves are illegal at each level in BJJ. The next time you go to a tournament you’ll know exactly what you can and cannot do. You won’t accidentally get yourself disqualified for not knowing a move was illegal again.