How To Defend Against The BJJ Berimbolo

The Berimbolo is one of the coolest techniques used in modern Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and it’s an effective way to take the back or sweep to top position from the open guard. It’s also one of the more fun BJJ positions to play with since it gives you a significant physical advantage over your opponent once secured. 

The Berimbolo is also a complicated technique to defend against, particularly if you have no clue what to do. You’ll need to learn how to use the Berimbolo to defend against it effectively. Generally speaking, the most successful defenses against the Berimbolo are either addressing it early or countering it extremely late. 


Defending Against The Berimbolo

The Berimbolo technique requires you to be inverted as you take control of your opponent’s legs and reverse your open guard. It’s one of the advanced techniques used in BJJ, and it involves spinning around your opponent’s legs as you reverse your guard. 

The goal of the Berimbolo is to get to your opponent’s back from the guard without having to use a conventional sweep and reposition yourself. This is done by spinning around one of your opponent’s legs using the same motion you would use when performing a Granby roll. Understanding how the Granby roll works is one of the keys to successfully attacking with the Berimbolo and defending against it. 

The next component of the technique is figuring out how to stay connected to your opponent while doing all that inverting and spinning on the ground. What’s to stop your opponent from simply stepping back away from you?

The answer to that question is your grips and hooks. The most basic entry into the Berimbolo starts from the de la Riva guard. This involves holding on to the lower part of your opponent’s gi pants while your leg to hook the same leg you are grabbing onto. Your other hand grabs your opponent’s sleeve or secures a collar tie. You then switch over to a belt grip once you see a path to your opponent’s back. 

However, newer versions of the Berimbolo start from various top and bottom positions. That means you shouldn’t only focus on learning how to counter the Berimbolo that starts from the de la Riva guard. Instead, focus on understanding the complexities of the technique so you can counter it regardless of where it starts from. 

Here’s how the Berimbolo generally works:

  • The technique typically starts with securing a de la Riva guard, isolating one of your opponent’s legs. Your closest leg is used to hook your opponent’s leg while you grab onto the ankle area of their gi pants.
  • You secure a collar choke and use it to unbalance your opponent, forcing them to post with their arms. You then invert yourself and spin to the back of their leg while maintaining your grips, leaving your opponent’s back exposed.


Early Defense For The Berimbolo

The key to defending against the Berimbolo early on is preventing your opponent from spinning. You can do this by preventing your opponent from establishing the grips they want or stopping the spin to keep them in place. 

If your opponent is able to establish their grip on one of your legs, you know what’s coming next as soon as you see their shoulder moving towards the mat. You can counter this by grabbing the gi pants of your free leg and sliding it back. You should end up in a position that looks like the Pigeon pose used in Yoga. You can cross-face your opponent from that position and start passing their guard. 

Another way to counter the Berimbolo early on is by securing a collar grip if you’re kneeling. Go for the collar grip as soon as your opponent tries to grab your belt. You then stand up and control the leg that’s hooked around yours. Pull the leg in one direction while pushing your opponent in the opposite direction with your collar grip, stretching your opponent out. When done correctly, it creates space that allows you to free your leg, and you end up in top side control. 


Late Defense For The Berimbolo

berimbolo ibjjf

If you don’t recognize an opponent going for a Berimbolo early enough, you must wait until the movement is late before reacting to it. If you do, there’s a good chance you will end up in a dominant position. The key to countering the Berimbolo late is rolling to prevent your opponent from taking your back. Time it well enough, and you might even take your opponent’s back. 

If you’ve failed to stop your opponent’s spin, you’ll need to flow with it by going on your back while controlling the ankle of your opponent’s free leg. This allows you to attack the leg as you enter your roll while preventing your opponent from using it to generate momentum. You’ll then kick off the leg hooked to yours to end up on their back. 

A second option is to perform a full roll as your opponent spins so you end up back on top. Similar to the first technique, the key is to control the ankle of the free leg to prevent them from taking your back. You then roll full circle, ending up in half guard or a knee staple. 


Add It To Your Arsenal

The Berimbolo is one of the fancier techniques used in BJJ, but it’s also highly effective. It’s one of those techniques even black belts can get caught with if they aren’t used to defending against it. Use it to create more options in your open guard and learn to recognize when an opponent is going for it. 

Remember, you have two main options for defending against the Berimbolo. You either stop the spin from happening or wait until your opponent attempts to roll to counter it. Defend against the technique effectively and you should end up in a dominant position


You may also like:

Get Past Your Opponent With These 4 Essential BJJ Guard Passes