World champ Rodolfo Vieira peaking through during a berimbolo

A Berimbau is a stringed instrument used in Capoeira. The Berimbolo is a sweep performed from the de la Riva guard used to take the back on an opponent. While they have similar names, they are not related except that both are examples of the creativity and artistry to come out of the country of Brazil.

There is much confusion in some Jiu Jitsu circles about what exactly the Berimbolo is. I first saw this technique being demonstrated by Rafael Mendes in video in Portuguese, posted below. I tried it a few times but couldn’t really figure out how to achieve the path to the back. Instead I focused more on other de la Riva techniques, coming back to it over the years, without success.

Thanks to interest and explanation on forums such as the Sherdog grappling forum, I began to revisit the Berimbolo again, this time with a better understanding of when to use the technique. The back take from the inverted position is fairly easy, I found. Getting there was difficult for me at first. Once I started to think of the berimbolo as a counter move, specifically a counter to your opponent’s attempt to counter your initial DLR back take, it all become much more clear.


Rafael Mendes Berimbolo Instruction (Portuguese) .



To take the back from DLR you must extend your outside hook to force your opponent’s knees away from you. This usually allows you to get your other leg behind their knee and take the back. However, if your opponent sits down either preemptively to counter the back take or as a result of the pressure from your hook, it’s berimbolo time. Once the movement is intuitive it’s easy to perform as one complete sweep to the back, but I feel this is the best way to learn the berimbolo.


 Rafael Mendes Berimbolo Competition Footage.


The first video above shows Rafael Mendes performing the sweep, followed by a series of videos of Mendes performing the sweep in competition. After than I’ve included one video of GB’s Samuel Braga performing an outstanding Berimbolo. Although the berimbolo was made famous by the Mendes brothers, it has been performed by several other competitors, including Braga.  JHbjj from Sherdog filmed an excellent English language instructional for all of us Gringos to enjoy. Then, Jason Scully shows how he does the Berimbolo.

Scully admits it’s a work in progress and I have to admit that I problems with the first way that Jason demonstrates the technique. If you watch the Mendes’ or even Jason’s second verson, they rotate fully underneath in one complete motion. This allows them to get the grip on the far hip as they spin onto the back. The hip grip is one of the most important elements of the move, and one that is often not emphasized. In contrast, Jason spins partly upside down and kicks his opponent forward, sliding his hook back to complete the back take. This is, in my experience, very difficult to perform. The beauty of the Berimbolo is that it’s one motion that puts you on the back with minimal effort. By forgoing the gripping chain (ankle -> hip -> collar) it makes this technique less efficient than the standard variation. Despite this, it’s important to not completely discount Jason’s first version, as there will be situations where it will be the preferred variation. .

Little Tony has long studied the Mendes brothers game and provides his own take on the berimbolo. It’s very close to how the Mendes brothers show the technique, with A few details missing, however. Still it’s a good addition to the discussion about this technique.


Little Tony – Berimbolo.


To get an even better sense of the dynamics of the berimbolo, several notable examples from high-level competition are included as well. Note that it rarely works as perfectly as shown in the demonstrations, instead leading to several different avenues that lead to a sweep, a leg drag pass or ultimately taking the back.

Unfortunately for aficionados of the berimbolo, there’s been some controversy at the 2012 European Open about the legality of the sweep under the new IBJJF rules. The deep de la Riva guard does apply inward pressure on the knee during some sweeps. This pressure is similar to that of a knee reap, which is already illegal (although the merits of this is an entirely different issue). The berimbolo begins with putting pressure with the de la Riva hook to take the back. The entry to the berimbolo occurs when, to resist this pressure, the opponent sits down. If they simply turn away, a different back take is available, as mentioned above. However, in order to force the berimbolo some competitors were gripping the far sleeve, preventing the turn away. This was putting pressure on the knee with little chance to relieve it. Coupled with the deep underhook, which also adds pressure to the knee it seems that the berimbolo ran af0ul of the recently updated rule: Section 6.3.2, #8 – which bans “locks twisting the knees.”  There are ways of performing the berimbolo without the sleeve grip and without underhooking the leg.Paulo Miayo performed the technique at the  2012 European Open with a deep overhook instead, grabbing his own pants (video below). 


Samuel Braga Berimbolo Competition Footage .


JHbjj Berimbolo Instruction (English) .


Jason Scully – Berimbolo from 3 different positions 


Ryan Hall – Last second berimbolo at 9:40

Rafael Mendes his a berimbolo at the European Open


Rafael Mendes shows you what a perfect berimbolo looks like 


Rafael Mendes double guard pull berimbolo against the king of the rosters, Bruno Malfacine


The Miayo brothers are taking the berimbolo to new hights 


Joao Miayo fast berimbolo at the 2012 Abu Dhabi Pro qualifiers in Rio.


Paulo Miayo – Perfect berimbolo at the 2012 IBJJF European Open


Note: this entry was updated 02/01/2012

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Filed under Jiu Jitsu Technique

5 responses to “Berimbolo

  1. That is such a cool sweep. Such a surprising move against a standing passer. Want to try it out in class! Thanks for sharing.

  2. What a great post. So much detail and great examples on one move.

    One point: I’ve always learned to berimbolo to be any move where you have a “leg in” and roll to take the back. For example: I thoughts this was considered a berimbolo from side control: Pretty sure there’s a video of Medes teaching this move, just can’t find it right now.

    The body movement is very similar, it’s just being hit from a different angle. What are your thoughts?

  3. Jin

    Nice analysis of this tricky sweep.

  4. Thank you for reference as always! The video on youtube was a start of a bigger project set to release in June 2012…hehe…more details and positions!
    “little” Tony

  5. Impressive! I Love it,BJJ is the greatest body chess game in the world

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