When you think of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), the image of a ham sandwich probably doesn’t come to mind.

However, the concept of a “BJJ Ham Sandwich” has gained popularity in recent years, bringing together the world of martial arts and the culinary world in a unique and delightful way.

In this article, we will explore the origins of the term “BJJ Ham Sandwich,” its significance in the BJJ community, and how it relates to the principles of martial art.

The Origins of the Term

The term “BJJ Ham Sandwich” was coined by renowned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and instructor, John Danaher.

In one of his instructional videos, Danaher used the phrase to describe a specific series of movements and transitions that he believed were crucial for success in BJJ.

The analogy of a ham sandwich was used to make the complex techniques easier to understand and remember.

Why a Ham Sandwich?

The choice of a ham sandwich as an analogy might seem random at first, but it actually makes a lot of sense when you unpack it. Just like a ham sandwich consists of different layers, BJJ technique sequences can be broken down into distinct steps or layers.

Each layer builds upon the previous one, just as the bread, ham, and other fillings build upon each other in a sandwich.

The Significance in the BJJ Community

The term “BJJ Ham Sandwich” quickly gained traction within the BJJ community due to its catchy and memorable nature.

It provides practitioners with a simple framework for understanding and executing complex techniques by breaking them down into manageable components.

Furthermore, the term has become a popular metaphor for the idea of structuring and organizing one’s game plan in BJJ.

Structured Approach To Techniques

BJJ is a highly technical martial art, with thousands of techniques and variations. Without a structured approach, it can be overwhelming for practitioners to remember and apply them effectively.

The “BJJ Ham Sandwich” analogy encourages students to break down techniques into layers and focus on mastering each layer before moving on to the next. This systematic approach helps build a strong foundation and promotes steady progress.

Game Planning and Strategy

Just as a sandwich has different layers that combine to create a delicious meal, a BJJ practitioner’s game plan should consist of various techniques and positions that seamlessly flow together.

The “BJJ Ham Sandwich” concept encourages practitioners to create a cohesive strategy by stringing techniques together in a logical sequence.

This approach enhances a practitioner’s ability to anticipate and react to their opponent’s movements during sparring or competition.

Example of a BJJ Ham Sandwich

To better understand the concept of a BJJ Ham Sandwich, let’s examine a common technique sequence known as the “armbar from the guard.” This sequence involves several layers of movements and transitions, similar to the layers of a ham sandwich:

  1. Layer 1: Establishing a closed guard position
  2. Layer 2: Breaking the opponent’s posture and securing a grip on their arm
  3. Layer 3: Off-balancing the opponent and creating an opening for the armbar
  4. Layer 4: Executing the armbar by extending the hips and controlling the opponent’s arm

By breaking down the technique into these layers, practitioners can focus on mastering each step before progressing to the next. This approach allows for a deeper understanding of the mechanics involved and helps develop muscle memory for effective execution during live training or competition.

The Benefits of the BJJ Ham Sandwich Approach

The “BJJ Ham Sandwich” approach offers several benefits for practitioners of all skill levels:

1. Improved Learning and Retention

By breaking down techniques into layers, students can grasp the fundamental components more easily. This method enhances learning and improves retention of the techniques over time.

2. Solid Foundation

Mastering the foundational layers of BJJ techniques sets a strong base for further growth and skill development. Much like a well-constructed sandwich, a solid foundation ensures stability and opens up possibilities for more advanced techniques.

3. Enhanced Problem-Solving Skills

The “BJJ Ham Sandwich” approach promotes critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Practitioners learn to analyze their opponent’s movements and identify potential opportunities within each layer of a technique sequence.

4. Seamless Transitions

By understanding the connections between different layers of a technique sequence, practitioners can seamlessly transition from one move to the next. This fluidity is essential for maintaining control and dominance during training or competition.


The “BJJ Ham Sandwich” concept may seem unconventional, but it has proved to be a powerful tool for understanding and mastering Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu techniques.

By breaking down complex movements into manageable layers, practitioners can enhance their learning, develop a solid foundation, and improve their problem-solving skills.

Just like a delicious ham sandwich, the “BJJ Ham Sandwich” approach offers a satisfying blend of technical excellence and strategic thinking for BJJ enthusiasts of all levels.

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