Martial arts fighting techniques are widely believed as based on animal movements such as when striking, subduing or immobilizing their prey or attackers. The Chinese Kung Fu or wushu for one recognizes “five animals” namely the tiger, the crane, the monkey, the snake and the praying mantis as predominant influences of several Shaolin kung fu techniques. Still many other animals have served as models not only for fighting stances but also for defense strategies.

Brazilian jiu jitsu (Bjj) which takes after the Japanese jiu jitsu martial art that focuses mainly on neutralizing an opponent by way of grapples, throws, pins and holds, also have styles that mimic animal movements. Alligators are good examples of grapplers, from which their practice of grabbing and spinning prey served as a model for the “gator roll,” a favored technique for pinning down larger opponents.

The popular applications of animal movements in Bjj are in warm up and workout exercises that aim to develop not only body strength, endurance and flexibility; but also to enhance one’s mobility and sense of balance. Apparently, most Bjj exercises are in many ways connected to learning certain jiu jitsu techniques of training the body to move differently.

Examples of Bjj Exercises as Popular Applications of Animal Movements

Duck Walks

Anyone who has experienced or observed Bjj training sessions are familiar with the duck walk. While seemingly easy to do, this movement requires walking up and down the mat while in a low squat position, with heels flat and the toes slightly turned out. The head and chest are held up, while the body must maintain its natural curve when duck walking.


The shrimp exercise is fundamental to perfecting grappling as the movement gives emphasis on moving one’s hips to get out from underneath an opponent’s pin and toward getting back on one’s feet and recover guard.

Chimp Walk

Apes are great models of agile movements, like in assuming a low stance by getting on all fours by planting palms and heels flat on the mat. The ape drill develops movement that trains a practitioner to kick off from the ground and to shoot for a take down. The workout applies by moving sideways toward one’s hands to control landing when dropping with a knee or getting the legs to take a higher position.

The exercises described above are only examples of animal movements that interested Bjj learners can use as warm up and body training exercises.