BJJ / MMA Words in Spanish — A Working Vocabulary

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If you plan on travelling to Spain or Latin America and want to keep training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) or general MMA, then you’re going to need to learn a few BJJ / MMA words in Spanish, as well as general striking / kickboxing / wrestling words in Spanish.

I’ve been training at an MMA club in Buenos Aires (doing mostly boxing and Jiu Jitsu, with some Muay Thai / Kickboxing), and also looking at videos on YouTube to build vocabulary.

So below is my BJJ / MMA / Muay Thai / Boxing terminology list in Spanish. I’ll add to it over the coming months but it’s good enough now to publish in case it’s useful to people.

Here are my latest posts on combat sports gym reviews from around the world, vocabulary for training in other languages, and other resources. If you’d like to have me visit and see your gym, please contact me — I love visiting new places and making new friends through combat sports.

BJJ Boxing and Jiu Jitsu words in Spanish
“Guantes de boxeo”

MMA / BJJ in Spanish — Borrowed vs Translated Vocabulary

As MMA and BJJ are both international sports, the exact language used in different gyms and countries varies to a degree. Obviously, this is just my experience from a couple of gyms and a number of online videos, but both the MMA world and Spanish-speaking world are huge.

So there are different instances where a gym or coach might use

  • A borrowed English word, like “tapear” for “to tap”
  • A Japanese term, particularly in Judo moves / holds, like “kesa gatame” for “scarf hold”
  • A Portuguese word, like “faixa azul” for “blue belt”. Many BJJ gyms in Argentina use Portuguese words
  • Or a Spanish word.

It really depends on the coach, the culture of the club, and the country.

I won’t go into Portuguese terms as I don’t speak Portuguese… yet! But when I do, I’ll create a separate list of Portuguese BJJ terminology.

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General BJJ / MMA Words in Spanish

These are words of general use that I can’t fit into anywhere else!

EnglishSpanish
Attacker / FighterLuchador
BeltEl cinturón / la cinta / la faixa (Portuguese, quite common in some clubs)
E.g. el es faixa preta (black belt – using portuguese)
CollarLa solapa
An escapeUn escape
A feint / to feintUna finta / fintar
GlovesLos guantes
To grip / a gripAgarrar / un agarre
OpponentEl oponente / rival
Right-handed / Left-handedZurdo / Izquierdo
(Or as I prefer rather than “izquierdo”, “abzurdo”… haha. I’ll be here all week, folks)
MouthguardUn bucal
To pass the guard / a guard passPasar la guardia / pasaje de guardia
Rash guardUna camiseta de compresión (or just un rash guard)
To rollRolar (borrowed)
Shin guardsEspinilleras
To hip escape / shrimpHacer fuga de cadera / la gamba
Sleeve (e.g. of jacket)La manga
SparringCombate / Lucha
To stretch / stretchingEstirar / estiramientos
To submitSometer
To take down / A take-downDerribar / un derribo
To take off your shoesDescalzarse / Quitarse los zapatos
To tapTapear (borrowed), Palmear
To train
I’d like to train here
Entrenarse
Me gustaría entrenarme acá
To warm up / a warm upCalentar / un calentamiento
(Boxing) WrapsBandas (de boxeo)
General BJJ / MMA Words in Spanish

BJJ / Grappling Control positions

These are control positions in Spanish. They’re largely jiu jitsu. Not all of them are used in MMA, but you’ll see them in no-gi grappling and in jiu jitsu.

Because “position” translates to posición, which is feminine, you’ll often hear these referred to in the feminine, like la norte sur which implies la posición norte sur.

EnglishSpanish
50/50 (Fifty-fifty)Cincuenta cincuenta
Butterfly guardGuardia mariposa
Closed guardGuardia cerrada
CrucifixEl crucifijo
De La Riva guardGuardia de la Riva
Deep halfProfunda media
Half guardMedia guardia
Inverted guardGuardia invertida
Knee on bellyRodilla en estómago
MountLa montada
North southLa norte sur
PosturePostura
Rubber guardGuardia (de) Goma
Side controlControl lateral / Pecho a pecho / Cien kilos
Single leg XSolo equis / single equis
Spider guardGuardia araña
TurtleLa tortuga
X guardGuardia equis (X)
BJJ control positions in Spanish

Jiu Jitsu Attacks

Below are common attack words in Spanish. The ones not mentioned, usually more obscure attacks like “gogoplata”, are the same.

Oh, but the jury’s out on how to say “omoplata”. The reason for this is that “a omoplata” is how you say “the shoulder blade” in Portuguese. That’s where the name for the attack comes from.

In Spanish, sometimes the omoplata called “omoplata”, borrowing the Portuguese word, and sometimes its’ called “un omoplato”, using the Spanish word for shoulder blade. (The shoulder blade is masculine in Spanish and feminine in Portuguese. Ah, languages! I love you but can’t stand you sometimes…)

EnglishSpanish
A submissionUna sumisión
Americana / KeylockUna llave de brazo (or just americana)
AnacondaLa anaconda
Ankle lockUna llave de tobillo
Arm barUna barra de brazo. Also sometimes un juji (from “juji gatame”, the Japanese term)
BaseballEl bate de béisbol
Bow and arrowEl arco y flecha
Cross CollarLa solapa cruzada
GuillotineLa guillotina
Japanese necktieCorbata japonesa
North-south chokeEstrangulación de norte sur
OmoplataOmoplato (also omoplata / varies by gym)
Peruvian necktieCorbata peruana
Rear naked choke / RNCMataléon, mata leão (Portuguese)
(Lit: The attack that kills lions. Don’t try this at home!)
To sweep / a sweepInvertir a alguien
Una inversión / Un raspado
To choke / a chokeEstrangular / Una Estrangulación
To dislocate / dislocationLuxar / una luxación
TriangleTriángulo
Underhook / to take the underhookLa esgrima / “esgrimar” (not standard Spanish)
Literally fencing / to fence, i.e. you fence your arm under.
Wrist lockMano de Vaca, literally hand of cow, for a common form. (From Mão de vaca in Portuguese). Also llave de muñeca.
Jiu jitsu attacks in Spanish

Body parts

Yes, you can learn body parts anywhere — they’re also part of our recommended basic Spanish vocabulary. But these are all the body parts that you might want to use, to attack, or that you might hurt doing MMA / BJJ!

EnglishSpanish
AnkleEl tobillo
ArmEl abrazo
ArmpitLa axila
BackLa espalda
ChestEl pecho
ChinEl mentón
Argentina: La Pera
ElbowEl codo
Fingers / ThumbsLos dedos / Los pulgares
FistEl puño
FootEl pie
HeadLa cabeza
Hips / waistLa cadera
JawLa mandíbula
JointUna articulación
KneeLa rodilla
LegsLas piernas
Nails (fingernails / toenails)Las uñas
Neck
Back of the neck / the nape
El cuello
La nuca
RibLa costilla
ShinLa espinilla
ShoulderEl hombro
Shoulder bladeEl omóplato
SpineLa espina
Toes
On your toes / tippy toes
Los dedos del pie
Sobre puntas
WristLa muñeca
English / Spanish body parts for martial arts

Muay Thai / Boxing / Striking words

If you’re also doing a striking art, like boxing, Muay Thai, or general MMA striking, you’ll need to know these words.

A lot of words are often just English borrowed words in a Spanish accent, e.g. un jab, un cross, un hook, etc. But they can also use the Spanish words sometimes — depends on the coach / gym.

Also, I think a few of these words get mixed up, so you may have to adapt to the vocabulary of your coach.

EnglishSpanish
Body hookUn “hook”
To boxBoxear
CrossCross / Directo de derecha
Dodge / to dodgeUn esquive / esquivar
Elbow (strike)Un golpe de codo / un codazo
HookUn “hook” / Crochet (de izquierda / derecha)
Jab / CrossUn “jab” / Directo de izquierda
To kickPatear / dar una patada
Knee (strike)Golpe de rodilla
PunchPuñada / puñetazo
Rear footPierna atrasada
Roundhouse kickPatada circular media / inferior / alta
Shadow boxBoxear con sombra
Straight punches
(Jabs / Crosses)
Directos
SwitchCambio de guardia
Teep / straight kickUna patada frontal
UppercutGancho (de izquierda / derecha)
Striking words in Spanish

Injuries

Finally, injuries happen (or should be avoided). I’m writing this list because all these things have happened to me! Well apart from the cramp, that happened to a training partner.

EnglishSpanish
Black eyeUn ojo morado
To bleed
My nose is bleeding
Sangrar
Me está sangrando la nariz.
Bruise / to bruiseUn moretón / dar un moretón
Dizzy / to become dizzy or to feel sickMareado/a / marearse
to hurt
[Something] hurts
I don’t want to hurt you
hacer mal
[Algo] hace mal.
No te quiero hacer mal
An injury / to injure
I’m injured / I have an injury
I don’t want to injure you
Una lesión / lastimar / hacer daño
Estoy lastimado / tengo una lesión
No te quiero lastimar / hacer daño
To pass out / black outDesmayarse / un desmayo
Sprain / crampUn esguince / calambre
Injuries for MMA / Jiu Jitsu in Spanish

Wrap up

Remember, wrap up! But also, as I come across new words, I add them to this list. Feel free to send me any differences in your gym or any ones that you think are important for newbies.

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Tony Dismukes
8 months ago

Muchas gracias! Soy professor de jiu-jitsu y estudiante de español. Mi professor de español me acaba de dar tarea para escribir un ensayo sobre mi técnica favorita en BJJ. Esta página será muy útil!