Learning BJJ / MMA in Korean — A Glossary

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One of the best things about martial arts is that you can use them to join sports clubs anywhere around the world and quickly get to know people. I really enjoyed doing MMA in Korean (or just BJJ in Korean) and so wanted to share the words and phrases I learned.

Of course, in Korea you can study Taekwondo, Hapkido, or a number of other popular global martial arts like Judo or Karate. But a few of the most popular martial arts that are growing massively these days are Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and related arts like grappling, striking, and boxing — and so I’m developing my vocabulary and related language in that regard.

Previously I spent around six months studying Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in francophone countries (Mauritius and French), and you can find that glossary here.

In Korea, I trained at an MMA gym. This means I didn’t do any gi training, and I also added some striking words to my vocabulary.

But here is my guide to learning BJJ in Korean — all the terminology I learned.

Disclaimer — I’m not fluent in Korean. I’m in the vast chasm of “intermediate”. These are the words and phrases I learned, which I’m sharing if it’s helpful to you. But I have much more to learn!

Also I’m not an expert in BJJ / MMA by any degree. I’m a “non-newb” at best. In Korea I got to the 500-hour mark of training.

Because MMA and BJJ are both pretty new sports, they attract a lot of amateurs who speak some English at least. But I’d say roughly 60% of people in my gym preferred to speak to me in Korean, even though I could only speak in short sentences.

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.

Learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu BJJ and MMA in Seoul Korea
Learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu BJJ and MMA in Seoul Korea. I know, that guy’s a red belt! (It’s just an illustration)

Learning BJJ/MMA in Korean — In a Nutshell

If you’re learning a traditional Korean martial art, you’ll have to learn many of the words for moves and exercises in Korean.

But if you’re learning a foreign-derived martial art like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu or mixed martial arts, you’re somewhat in luck. Many of the words for moves are the same as in English, but pronounced in a Korean accent. You can see this when watching videos on YouTube for example explaining an 암바 (am ba)… an “arm bar”.

This is in contrast with many other languages in which the words are translated (clé de bras in French, 十字固定 in Chinese). Not so in Korean. So, you might hear a lot of common words for Jiu-Jitsu terminology.

On top of that, many words in Korean that come from Japanese (Judo terminology) are also retained in Japanese pronunciation.

General words

Below are some general words and phrases that might come in useful when beginning to talk about BJJ or MMA in Korean.

I’m a white belt / blue belt
화이트/블루 벨트 입니다.
Boxing bag권투 가방 / 백
Gi / No-gi기 / 노기
I started Jiu Jitsu 2 years ago
2년 전에 주짓수를 시작했어요.
To practise연습하다
Amateur / Professional초보자 / 전문가
To train훈련하다
BJJ in Korean —  General phrases

General phrases

Below are some phrases I found useful for getting started at the gym, plus also training with new partners.

Hello, I want to train here for a month.안녕하세요, 한 달 동안 여기에서 훈련하고 싶어요.
How much is the training fee?수업료는 얼마예요?
Where is the locker room?탈의실은 어디에 있어요?
Grab a partner and let’s practice!파트너를 잡고 연습하겠습니다!
Let’s get started!시작합시다!
Softly / Gently
I usually say this with new partners
How long have you been training MMA?MMA 배운 지 얼마나 됐어요?
Well done! (After your partner does a good move)잘했어!
Or 나이스! (Nice!)
Take off your shoes (This sign is often near the front)신발을 벗으세요
Train freely!자유롭게 훈련하세요!
Good work! (When leaving)수고하셨습니다!
Are you OK? (If you hit them by accident…)괜찮아요?
Let’s rest for a bit.조금 쉬자.
Let’s train both sides.양쪽을 연습하겠습니다.
The other side (e.g. train the other side)반대쪽
BJJ / MMA in Korean — Basic phrases
Living in Korea need to known Korean
A sign in Korean saying you have to take your shoes off with no graphics or English

Warm ups / Drills / Exercises

These are some words I heard during warm-ups and drills, common to BJJ / MMA gyms in Korea, which sometimes also blend with Crossfit.

Most of these (and many others) are loan words apart from the very most common ones like push-ups and sit-ups. Even push-up and sit-up have common loan-word variations.

Words like sprawl, toes-to-bar, skipping, squat jumps, to… all of these were loan words in my gym.

Again, this is my experience at one gym doing MMA in Korean. I’m very interested to hear if you’ve trained in Korea in any gym (that might accept foreigners) and hear common Korean terms that aren’t loan-words.

We actually didn’t do a whole lot of drills in our gym, so I didn’t learn many more of these. But I got the impression they’re all loan words.

Jump / Double jump뛰기 / 이단뛰기
Push-ups팔굽혀펴기 / 푸쉬업
Sit-ups윗몸일으키기 / 싯업
Shrimping / hip-escapes새우빼기 or 힙이스케이프
Exercise names in Korean
Cube MMA training moves in Korean
Cube MMA training moves in Korean

Body Parts

Here are the common body parts in Korean that you need to know when doing BJJ in Korean. You’ll hear convoluted descriptions of which part to hold onto and where to go, and knowing what body part the coach is referencing is critical.

Opponent / Counterpart상대방
back / lower back등 / 허리
back of the neck / nape뒤목
carotid (arteries along the neck)경동맥
shoulder blade견갑골
Learning BJJ in Korean — Body parts

Control positions

These are Jiu-Jitsu control positions. Most of these are loan words, but some are not.

Back mountJust 백 or 백마운트
Knee on belly니온벨리
Leg mount 랙 마운트
North South남북
Scarf hold / Kesa gatame곁누르기
Side control사이드마운트
Jiu-Jitsu control positions in Korean

If there’s one you commonly use, I can almost promise you it’s a loan word! The above should give you an indication of how to Korean-ify it.

BJJ / MMA Attacks / Submissions in Korean

Below are a bunch of common attacks and submissions in Korean.

Again, the vast majority of these are loan words from English, Japanese, and even French (Guillotine… ok French via English).

But some are interesting, e.g. Koreans prefer “keylock” to “Americana” (I’ve only been to half a dozen gyms, but haven’t heard “keylock” other than on YouTube… apart from clé de bras in French, with the same etymology). Also, “triangle” is the sole word that was translated to Korean!

Arm bar암바
Americana (Keylock)키락 (from “Keylock” which isn’t used everywhere)
Rear naked choke리어네이키드 초크
Triangle삼각 / 트라이앵글
BJJ Attacks / Submissions in Korean

Again, if there’s an attack you just learned, you need to learn to pronounce it in Korean.

Verbs / Movements

Here are some common verbs that I had to learn. Some are loan words, and some are not.

Cross / Straight스트레이트 (Straight, loan word)
Crescent kick (a Taekwondo kick)초승달킥
To defend지키다 / 방어하다
Grab the arm
팔을 잡으세요.
Jab잽 (loan word)
Jab-cross (one-two)원투 (one-two loan word)
Roll (Sparring)스파링 / 롤링 (same loan word as in “The Rolling Stones”!)
Pull guard가드 풀
Teep / front kick딥 (loan word)
Turn around돌리다
Turn (something)돌다
Common verbs I learned in Korean doing BJJ in Korean


Lastly, sometimes things hurt.

These are some common injuries and how to talk about them.

Band-aid / adhesive plaster반창고
There’s blood on the floor

바닥에 피가 있어요.
You’re bleeding / I’m bleeding a bit초금 피가 나요
muscle cramp근 경련
My neck hurts목이 아파요.
(Substitute 목 with anything else)
I feel sick / it hurts아프다!
Basic injury words and phrases doing BJJ in Korean

Basically, if you’re doing MMA in Korean and you hurt yourself badly enough, someone’s going to help you by translating from English. Or they’ll cart you away in an ambulance because you’re unconscious. But the above should get you started!

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