I didn’t really get better at BJJ quickly before I started to watch a lot of instructionals. Some really helped me level up my game instantly while I watched them, whereas many other were forgettable. In this article I want to share the best BJJ instructionals that I ever watched, so you can also level up your game instantly. Let’s get started!
What makes the Best BJJ instructionals the best?
Let’s specify what makes an instructional go from good to the best. In my opinion, the best BJJ instructionals are those that have:
- A common thread: You’ll be surprised how many instructionals are just semi-random collections of the favorite techniques of the instructor. Those aren’t worth it because you might as well be watching random YouTube videos. A good instructional either argues for an innovative thesis or completely exhausts a single position or theme.
- Great instructors: The best instructionals are those from the best instructors (who I named above). These instructors explain all the details clearly, clarify common misunderstandings, show good camera angles, have better details than others, and so forth.
- Something new: You want to learn something new from your instructional, rather than the same old techniques that everybody teaches. My favorite instructionals are those that are about a completely new topic (I’ll mention a few below), or that share new details about old positions (for this you usually need a world class competitor who figured these details out himself).
Who make the best BJJ instructionals?
The best BJJ instructionals are made by Lachlan Giles, Craig Jones, Gordon Ryan and John Danaher. They deliver the most quality by far. Between them it’s a matter of taste who you like better. Lachlan’s the most structured, Craig’s the funniest, Gordon has the most details and John explains the most.
The top 10 best BJJ instructionals
Of course there’s no truly objective answer to the question which are the best BJJ instructionals because it depends on you and your goals. But here are 10 high quality BJJ instructionals that I expect you can learn the most from (like I did too).
1. Submeta by Lachlan Giles
Submeta is a course platform with over 66 BJJ instructionals on there. These instructionals range from beginner to advanced, so you can start with beginner courses and work your way up from there.
Submeta ticks all my boxes for being the best instructional platform:
- It’s super organized. Lachlan has 6 foundational courses and from there you can branche off to different topics. Ev
- Lachlan’s a great teacher. The #1 in my opinion. He’s got great details and he gives the clearest overviews of positions.
- Lots of new stuff. Lachlan’s a true innovator. He kind of invented the whole k guard and backside 50/50 game that became so popular. And his guard retention, no gi bolo game and sweep prevention course are all uniquely his.
The reason that I place Submeta above all other instructionals is the value for the money. You simply get way more courses for way less money than with any other option.
2. Power Ride: A new philosophy on pinning by Craig Jones
Power Ride by Craig Jones is about a new philosophy on pinning. Pinning, as in, how we hold people down.
Normally in jiu jitsu we use side control and mount for this, but Craig Jones shows another way. Craig studied how Khabib holds people down in the UFC and applies the same concepts to pure grappling.
This is the best single BJJ instructional that I ever watched. It’s 100% new, follows a common thread and is from a great instructor. Nothing else had a bigger impact on my game. (But one word of caution: I think this one is better appreciated by more experienced grapplers, because the positions can be hard to enter for beginners.)
3. The Guard Retention Anthology by Lachlan Giles
The guard retention anthology is about the style of guard retention that Lachlan Giles plays. A lot of high pummels, inversions, turtle shells, and counter arm locks and leg locks.
After I got my purple belt I decided that my guard needed to become much better, and this instructional helped me get to a level I’m very happy with. It’s a super in depth instructional, and it took my 3 months to work through both the Through the Legs and the Around the legs dvd. (If you had to choose one, I’d start with Around the legs by the way.)
4. BJJ Mental Models
BJJ Mental Models is a very cool platform that has possibly the best feature for beginners: black belt sparring analysis. That means you can send a video of yourself sparring or competing, and a black belt will analyze it and give you tips on what you can improve.
This is extremely helpful because you might be making a single mistake repetitively, which messes up your whole rolls. (That was the case for me.) So it’s a way to get better immediately.
Additionally, BJJ Mental Models has many audio courses. These are more conceptual than about techniques, which can be better for beginners. They help you think about BJJ in a more effective way.
5. Make Z Guard Great Again by Craig Jones
Make Z Guard great again covers the knee shield half guard (not just z guard). I think this is the first guard you should learn because it’s relatively easy. And at ADCC 2022 we saw a ton of knee shield half guard as well, and most guys couldn’t pass it! So it works at the elite level too.
Criag’s probably the best knee shielder in the game. At ADCC 2022 he broke a guy’s arm within 10 seconds from here in his first match. He shows how in the instructional and he also shows also all his other submission attacks, such as his patented triangles and inside heel hooks.
Learn the guard that Craig Jones still uses to sweep and submit people at the highest level
Learn Craig’s Guard
6. Leg locks enter the system by John Danaher
Leg locks enter the system is the instructional that made John Danaher famous. This is John, in all his eccentricity, teaching his leg lock system while the whole world watches. Nobody knew anything about leg locks at this point, except the Danaher death squad.
People often ask me whether this instructional is outdated, and it honestly isn’t. Everything that John layed out here still is the majority of the leg lock game today. John even predicted many of the problems that leg locks face nowadays (mostly back exposure). So he was so far ahead of the curve that his dvd from 2018 is still very relevant.
7. Systematically attacking from top pins by Gordon Ryan
Gordon Ryan makes the best BJJ instructionals in terms of (new) details. He always shows how things are commonly taught, and how you can do it even better. He also always shows common mistakes that happen a lot, even at black belt level competitions.
The 2 Gordon Ryan instructionals that I enjoyed the most are Systematically attacking from top pins: Mount, and Systematically attacking from top pins: Side control & North South. I found these dvds crucial because as a purple belt I found it embarrassing that I couldn’t always submit lower belts if they just stalled really hard. And these dvds taught me how to do that.
8. Get off my legs Gringo by Craig Jones
Get off my legs Gringo by Craig Jones is the most comprehensive instructional about leg lock defense. It’s about 5 and a half hours long and it covers all the positions you want to defend yourself from: saddle, 50/50, single x, outside ashi, leg reaps, double trouble, and so forth.
And Craig’s one of the best leg lockers in the world, so he has tremendous details to share in each position.
9. The Modern Defensive guard by Ryan Hall
Ryan Hall is a BJJ teacher that you hate or you love. He’s 80% talk and 20% showing techniques (no exaggeration). I personally really enjoy this. If Ryan Hall made a podcast I would certainly tune in.
The Modern Defensive guard is about a more realistic approach to guard. Ryan debunks a lot of myths about guard (such as that guard is equally good as passing, or that you should always maximize distance when playing guard – both aren’t true according to Ryan). And of course he’s got an MMA perspective too, because he’s both a UFC fighter and a former BJJ world champion. So lots to learn from him.
10. Blue belt in 1 day
Of course I have to mention my own course: Blue belt in 1 day.
It’s designed to be perfect for beginners. It’s the only course that targets the problems that all white belts face:
- The techniques you learn in the gym don’t work for you
- There are too many techniques to remember
- You don’t know where to start
You need the following to solve your problems:
- Learn which techniques work for beginners, which don’t and why.
- Checklists to see which techniques you know, and which are left.
- A gameplan that combines all the easiest beginner techniques to win sparring rounds.
And that’s exactly what you get in the course. So check it out.
Are BJJ Instructionals worth it?
Yes, BJJ instructionals are worth it to learn BJJ much quicker. I tried to learn BJJ from YouTube for the longest time, but learning with instructionals is much better. The reason is that instructors really put their best content out there, and they create one focused product for you to follow. This is much better than the ADHD-inducing YouTube algorithm that throws different positions and techniques at you all the time.
What about Grapplers Guide?
A lot of people on Reddit recommend Grapplers Guide. They say that it’s good value for the money because for $300 you get lifetime access to a whole bunch of courses. But what they don’t tell you is that almost all the courses are outdated. And you can get access to a whole bunch of better courses for $25 per month on Submeta, so I think Submeta made Grapplers Guide obsolete.
Why are BJJ Instructionals so expensive?
This question is always hard to answer because it’s subjective what ‘expensive’ means. Many instructionals are 5 to 8 hours long, so even if they’re $200, that’s a lot cheaper than private classes would have been! (And more value because you can rewatch.) The only thing I can say is that it’s relatively more affordable to get Submeta or a good BJJ Fanatics Daily Deals.