How to "Flow" in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

True strength is not always shown through victory. Stand up, try again and display strength of heart.
— Rickson Gracie
Gracie Family and cousin Rigan Machado, the origins of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Gracie Family and cousin Rigan Machado, the origins of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.


"Flowing" in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the unconscious movement to movement of two well seasoned practitioners of the grappling martial art.

Brazilian jiu jitsu, or BJJ, is probably the most complete and practical of all the current martial arts. BJJ a relatively recent martial art, was adopted from Japan and refined by the Gracie family in Brazil around the 1920's. "Flowing" is a complete workout of movement and “no mind” with an opponent.


Helio Gracie was taught the martial art of grappling and submission techniques by Mitsuyo Maeda in the early 1920's.  The Gracie family for decades in Brazil refined the sport by adding deadly choke holds and joint locks. Brought to the US by the Gracie and Machado families in the 1980's and 1990's, celebrities such as Chuck Norris brought the martial art into a brighter spotlight.  With the invention of the UFC, many fighters use BJJ is a base for their "ground game" or "grappling" work. Today there are numerous schools across the US with styles and techniques being added to this growing martial art form.

Flowing Definition 

"Flowing" in BJJ can be a full workout of the mind and body. But what exactly is Flowing? Flowing is when two students train from one movement to one movement without stopping or going for a "tapout." We asked seasoned BJJ black belt  Robert Arevalo for his understanding of flow. "Flow is moving consistently without stopping. To be fluid, smooth, graceful...continuity," Aravalo states who has been training since 1995 first under .Jean-Jacques Machado and Renato Magno. To flow one must have at least two to three years experience in BJJ as a student. 

In these essential years the beginner will gain an understanding of their basics. These basics include the guard, side control, full mount and half guard as well the knowledge to "control" and "escape" from the basics. With this knowledge you can start to flow with a more experienced partner who can work with you on developing your game. "Flowing helps improve your agility and timing as well as teaching you how to use your momentum when you are training," added Arevalo.


With an understanding of it's definition and the knowledge of the basic movements of BJJ, a student can now flow. A practitioner will first warm up by stretching the legs, groin and later the upper body for a full body warm-up. The practitioner will start in a sit-down pose, on knees, facing his partner who is on their knees as well. They Shake hands and begin the first movement which could be bringing one partner into the guard position. Each partner will take turns and initiate the next move, never forcing a finishing move as the main purpose to flowing is Continual movement . A partner will move again until reaching a dominant position, like a full mount or knee on stomach. When position is attained the partner will let go of that position, knee on stomach in this case, and move to a side mount, or roll the partner off his back and begin the cycle again. This training can go on and on, based on the skilled level of the students and cardio endurance.  This flowing back and forth is psychically a complete workout and mentally reinforces the techniques the students attempt during the flow session.

Tips for Best Flowing Results

Increasing cardio endurance is an additional value when training and flowing in BJJ. Cross training before a BJJ session can include the following; jumping rope. medicine ball, free weights and body bag drills. During years of training, a student can get injured for various reasons. Flowing is a great way of technique reinforcements while recovery from an injury. If the injury is not too severe, and you have the capacity to do flow drills, flowing very light is helpful. One thing about jiu-jitsu is the student becomes more in tune with their body so he should know when to listen to it.