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How to Shrimp in BJJ

April 4, 2024
How to Shrimp in BJJ

If you’ve ever been to a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) gym, you’ve probably noticed people wriggling around on the ground during warmups. It may look silly and awkward to the uninitiated, but what your gym mates are doing is actually practicing a fundamental drill movement in BJJ: the shrimp. This technique is harder than it looks and requires regular practice, but over time it will make you a stronger and faster fighter.

Shrimping, which is also sometimes called snaking, is all about mastering footwork and mobility while fighting from your back and is an important technique for creating space between you and your opponent. It’s very useful for escaping when they are on top of you, either from a side control position or a mounted position. More than that, it helps you build your mobility so you can better dominate ground grappling and maintain control while rolling. Mastering this technique opens you up to a world of possible strategies on the mat. 

Shrimping Techniques for Common Scenarios in BJJ

There are three types of shrimping: backward (the standard variation), forward (also known as reverse shrimp), and lateral. Most BJJ programs spend more time practicing the standard shrimp, but understanding the reverse and lateral shrimp techniques will undoubtedly come in handy as you train.

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Backward shrimp

To practice this classic shrimp motion, start off by laying on your back on the floor with your hands at your chest and elbows tucked in. Then, with your knee bent, bring your heels close to your bottom, allowing you to lift your hips up and turn to either of your shoulders. Once you turn to one side, your body should have three contact points with the ground: your shoulder and both feet. 

With your contact points established, use your top leg to drive and pull your hips behind you to create space between yourself and your opponent. Repeat this motion with your opposite leg and shoulder. 

Forward (reverse) shrimp

This variation is probably the hardest one to do, but it’s really useful for  lots of escape scenarios, including getting out of the side mount. It’s also important to know because when done correctly, it can even open opportunities for taking your opponent’s back. 

To reverse shrimp, start the same as the standard shrimp: on your back with your knees bent and your feet close to your bum. From this position, extend one leg straight and use the heel of that foot to rake in toward your body. As you rake in, shift your body to the side and kick upward with the other leg to help lift your hips off the floor. 

Lateral shrimp

Shrimping to the side is an excellent way to get out of the knee-on-belly position. From your back, keep your feet close to your bum, and once your opponent has their knee on your belly, turn on your side toward your opponent. As you turn over, stick your bum out behind you, use your bottom foot to move your body back and away while pushing your opponent’s knee off your belly. 

Drills and Exercises to Enhance Shrimping Technique

There are a few things to keep in mind as you work to get better at your shrimping technique. You need lots of core strength, good coordination, flexibility, and agility. Here are some drills you can use to get better at shrimping:

Core strength exercises

Core strength is one of the most important things to focus on as you train in BJJ. It will not only help you with shrimping, but in pretty much every other aspect of the sport. Many core exercises can be done with or without weights, including: 

  • Farmer’s Carry
  • Deadlifts
  • Front squats
  • Planks
  • Kettlebell swings
  • Lying leg raises
  • Slow controlled decline situps 
  • Ab rollers
  • Leg lift hip raises
  • Curl up

Exercises for improving hip mobility

Hip flexors are the group of muscles that run down the front of your leg and it’s extremely common for them to get stiff, especially if you’re not doing hip mobility exercises. Tight hip flexors will make it much harder for you to shrimp or do much of anything on the mat. You can improve the mobility in your hips using the following exercises:

  • 90/90 hip opener
  • Quad stretch
  • Walking 
  • Hip CARs (controlled articular rotations)
  • Leg swings
  • Butterfly stretch

Flexibility exercises

Like most BJJ techniques, shrimping is a full-body move, and it’s important to stay tuned up and flexible to do it right. Spending time each day practicing your flexibility is just as important on strength training and working on your technique. Good stretches to integrate into your routine are:

  • Hip bridges
  • Static calf stretch
  • Lying hamstring stretch
  • Trunk twists
  • Toe touches
  • Wide leg adductor stretch

Common Shrimping Mistakes

If you can keep proper form while shrimping, you’ll perfect your technique in no time. Below we dive into some common mistakes that practitioners make:

Extended arms: Most of the time, shrimping is a defensive pose used to avoid getting caught in a submission attempt. Many BJJ practitioners instinctively extend their arms away from their body in an effort to push their opponent off them. But as soon as you do that, your opponent can grab one and attempt a submission like an arm lock. When this happens, what was intended to be a defensive move instead opens you up and makes you vulnerable. 

Keeping flat on the ground: If you stay flat on the ground, you won’t be able to create distance between you and your opponent. You have to raise your hips and push hard off your heels to move quickly away. 

Moving slowly: You have to be quick and explosive when shrimping. Otherwise, your opponent can anticipate your move and transition to a better position before you’ve even had a chance to create space. 


Mastering the shrimping technique in BJJ is a crucial step towards dominating ground grappling. By understanding the fundamentals, incorporating drills and exercises, and learning from common challenges and mistakes, you can improve your shrimping technique and elevate your BJJ skills.