What Are White Belts Not Allowed To Do? [Explained]

If you’re new to the world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and have recently earned your white belt, congratulations! You’ve taken your first step into a fascinating martial art that combines technique, strategy, and discipline. As a white belt, it’s important to understand the white belt BJJ rules and guidelines that govern your training.

In this article, we will delve into the specific rules and restrictions that apply to white belts in BJJ. We’ll explore illegal moves, and prohibited submissions, and discuss common questions and discussions surrounding what white belts are not allowed to do.

What are illegal moves in BJJ for white belts?

In BJJ, the safety of practitioners is of utmost importance.

To ensure a safe training environment, certain moves and techniques are considered illegal for white belts. These restrictions are in place to protect both the person executing the move and their training partner.

While the exact list may vary depending on the academy or competition, here are some common illegal moves for white belts:

  1. Spinal manipulation techniques: White belts are not allowed to execute moves that directly target the neck or spine, such as cervical neck cranks. These moves can be dangerous if not applied correctly and require more advanced knowledge and control.
  2. Joint locks: Most academies restrict white belts from applying submissions that put excessive strain on joints, such as toe holds, heel hooks, and wrist locks. These techniques require a high level of skill and control to avoid injury.
  3. Certain throws: Advanced throws that involve lifting and forcefully driving the opponent into the ground, known as “slams,” are generally prohibited for white belts. These throws carry a higher risk of injury, especially when executed by less experienced practitioners.
  4. Strikes and striking combinations: BJJ is primarily a grappling art, and strikes are not allowed in traditional BJJ competitions or training sessions. White belts should focus on learning and refining their grappling skills before incorporating strikes into their training.

What submissions are illegal as a white belt in BJJ?

Submissions are an integral part of BJJ, but as a white belt, you will have limitations on the submissions you can employ.

These restrictions are put in place to prevent injuries and ensure a gradual progression in your training. Here are some submissions that are typically illegal for white belts:

  1. Heel hooks: Heel hooks are powerful leg locks that can cause serious damage if not applied correctly. They are commonly prohibited for white belts due to their complexity and potential for injury.
  2. Toe holds: Similar to heel hooks, toe holds target the foot and ankle joints. These submissions require precise technique and control, making them inappropriate for white belts.
  3. Bicep slicers: Bicep slicers apply pressure to the bicep muscle, and while effective, they can also lead to injuries if applied carelessly. White belts are usually not allowed to perform bicep slicers to protect their training partners.

It’s important to note that the specific restrictions may vary depending on the training environment or competition rules, such as IBJJF rules.

Always consult your instructor or the guidelines provided by the governing body to ensure compliance.

Jumping the closed guard

The closed guard is a fundamental position in BJJ where the person on the bottom has their legs wrapped around their opponent’s waist, effectively controlling them.

Jumping the closed guard refers to the act of leaping over your opponent’s legs while they have you in their closed guard. While this move may seem like an effective way to escape, it is generally discouraged for white belts.

White belts are not allowed to jump the guard in IBJJF

Jumping the closed guard requires a good understanding of timing, balance, and technique. Without the proper knowledge and execution, attempting this move can result in injury for both you and your training partner.

As a white belt, it’s best to focus on learning the fundamentals and developing a solid foundation before attempting more advanced maneuvers like jumping the closed guard.

Cervical neck crank

A cervical neck crank is a submission technique that targets the neck by applying pressure in a twisting or cranking motion.

This move can be extremely dangerous if not executed with precision and control. Due to the potential for severe injury, cervical neck cranks are typically considered illegal for white belts.

As a white belt, your focus should be on mastering the fundamental techniques and positions of BJJ.

Engaging in moves that carry a high risk of injury can hinder your progress and the progress of your training partners. It’s essential to prioritize safety and approach your training with the well-being of yourself and others in mind.

Can white belts do knee bars?

Knee bars are submission techniques that apply pressure on the knee joint, potentially causing significant damage if not applied properly.

Due to the complexity and risk involved, knee bars are generally not permitted for white belts. Executing a knee bar requires an advanced understanding of positioning, control, and timing to prevent injury.

As a white belt, it’s crucial to focus on building a solid foundation and understanding the fundamental techniques before delving into more intricate submissions like knee bars.

By gradually progressing and acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge, you will be better prepared to execute complex techniques safely when the time is right.

Are slams allowed in BJJ for white belts?

Slams, forceful throws that drive the opponent into the ground, are often restricted for white belts in BJJ.

Slams carry a higher risk of injury, especially for less experienced practitioners who may not have developed the necessary control and awareness. To ensure the safety of everyone involved, most academies and competitions prohibit slams for white belts.

While slams can be effective in certain situations, they require proper technique, timing, and control to avoid injury.

As a white belt, it’s important to prioritize learning and mastering the foundational aspects of BJJ before incorporating more advanced techniques like slams into your practice.

Are wrist locks legal at white belt?

Wrist locks, which target the wrist joint, can be effective submission techniques in BJJ.

However, their execution requires a high level of skill, control, and sensitivity to avoid causing unnecessary harm. As a result, wrist locks are generally not permitted for white belts and are allowed for blue belts and higher ranks.

White belts should focus on developing a solid understanding of the basic positions, transitions, and submissions before attempting more complex techniques like wrist locks.

By gradually progressing through the belt ranks and acquiring the necessary knowledge and control, you will be better equipped to safely apply wrist locks in your BJJ practice.

Are white belts allowed to do leg locks?

Leg locks, submission techniques targeting the legs and their joints, are often a topic of discussion when it comes to white belts in BJJ.

While the rules regarding leg locks may vary depending on the academy or competition, many establishments restrict white belts from executing certain leg locks.

Leg locks, such as heel hooks and toe holds, can place significant strain on the knee and ankle joints, posing a higher risk of injury if not executed correctly.

To ensure the safety and gradual progression of white belts, it is common for academies to limit the leg locks they can employ.

It’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific rules and guidelines of your training environment to ensure compliance.

The Risks of Leg Locks Beyond Straight Ankle Lock

When it comes to leg locks in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, white belts need to be cautious. Techniques like toe holds and knee bars are strictly off-limits for them.


Well, these submissions target the ligaments and joints in the opponent’s legs, and without proper knowledge and control, they can cause serious injury.

Ligaments are like the glue holding our joints together, and if they get strained or torn due to a poorly executed leg lock, it can lead to long-term issues or even surgery. However, that doesn’t mean that white belts are completely barred from leg locks.

The straight ankle lock technique is an exception. This submission focuses on applying pressure to the foot and ankle joint rather than twisting or manipulating the knee or hip joint.

It is considered relatively safe when performed correctly under guidance. White belts should take their time to understand this technique thoroughly before attempting it during sparring sessions or competitions.

What are white belts not allowed to do: Reddit Discussion

Reddit BJJ discussions often serve as a platform for BJJ practitioners to exchange information, share experiences, and seek advice.

When it comes to the topic of what white belts are not allowed to do, you may find a variety of opinions and perspectives within these discussions.

While Reddit can provide valuable insights, it’s important to approach the information with a critical eye. Different academies and organizations may have varying rules and guidelines for white belts, so it’s crucial to consult your instructor or the official guidelines provided by the governing body.

Participating in Reddit discussions can offer a broader understanding of the topic, but always remember to prioritize reliable sources and seek guidance from qualified instructors who can provide accurate and up-to-date information.

Avoid illegal maneuvers for your belt level in competition
Leg locks, bicep slicers, and neck cranks are not allowed
Straight ankle locks are allowed in IBJJF competition for white belts
White belts should focus on basic maneuvers and transitions
Focus on guard passing, positional control, and transitions
Talk to your instructor for guidance
Avoid moves you don’t fully understand or could result in injury
Stick to the basics and fundamentals taught by your instructor
Bicep slicers are generally not allowed for white belts
Leg locks should be performed slowly and with caution
Avoid high-risk moves on lower-level white belts
Only attempt moves you have drilled and practiced

Useful Information:

Here’s a list of essential BJJ concepts and terms that every white belt should familiarize themselves with:

  1. Guard: A position where one practitioner is on their back, using their legs and hips to control their opponent.
  2. Mount: A dominant position where one practitioner is on top, straddling their opponent’s chest or torso.
  3. Side Control: A position where the top practitioner controls their opponent’s upper body while being perpendicular to them.
  4. Sweep: A technique used to reverse the position and gain a dominant position from a disadvantaged one.
  5. Passing the Guard: The act of maneuvering past an opponent’s legs to advance to a more advantageous position.
  6. Base: The stability and balance are maintained during techniques and transitions.
  7. Tapping: The act of signaling submission by lightly tapping the opponent or the mat to communicate that you are caught in a submission or in a position where you risk injury.

By familiarizing yourself with these terms and concepts, you will be better equipped to understand and communicate about BJJ techniques and strategies.


As a white belt in BJJ, it’s important to adhere to the rules and guidelines that govern your training.

Understanding the illegal moves, prohibited submissions, and restrictions specific to white belts ensures a safe and progressive learning experience. By focusing on building a solid foundation, mastering fundamental techniques, and prioritizing safety, you will set yourself on a path to success in your BJJ journey.

Embrace the journey, respect the rules, and enjoy the growth and development that come with being a white belt.

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