What Is Oil Checking In BJJ?

Whenever two people willingly fight, some rules are in place, even if they are not enforced. Biting, eye gouging, clawing, and similar techniques are considered dirty, are banned, or heavily frowned upon, even in no-rules fights. But some moves are in the gray area, and one is oil-checking. Many people new to grappling do not know what that is. Do you?

Oil checking is putting one or more fingers in the opponent’s butthole during grappling to make him uncomfortable and force him to move. This can lead to a better position, the opponent losing a dominant one, or even a submission in rare cases.

As nasty as this sounds, oil checking is a real practice used by wrestlers and grapplers of more flexible morality. I doubt most of you will resort to oil checking in a match, but it’s good for everybody to know what it is, why it’s done, and how to react to it.

What Is An Oil Check In BJJ

Oil checking is the clever name for a dirty move that includes intentionally putting one or more fingers in an opponent’s anus during grappling.

The move can serve a few purposes, most commonly to make the victim uncomfortable and force him to move into an unfavorable position or lose the dominant one he has.

An oil check can be shocking and break the focus of an opponent, even if it doesn’t lead to an immediate change of position. In some more extreme cases, it can even lead to a submission.

Oil checking is a “technique” that has crossed over to BJJ from wrestling, where it is much more common but considered dirty. While the positions it’s usually used in wrestling are not as common in BJJ, there are still plenty of opportunities for it, especially against heavy turtle players.

Why are dirty tactics used in the first place? To gain an advantage and do everything possible to win. Even small things can turn things around, especially when a match or a fight is very close. Oil checking can be shocking, take you by surprise, and force you to move in a way you wouldn’t otherwise.

Should you use it? Hell no. We are BJJ practitioners and carry ourselves with honor and integrity. With all my respect for wrestlers, perhaps the toughest guys in all combat sports, let them use dirty tactics and don’t fall to that level.

Cheating and bending the rules may not be technically the same thing, but either of those will earn you the reputation of being a “dirty grappler,” so abstain from resorting to dirty tactics unless you don’t mind it.

Is Oil Checking Legal in BJJ?

Oil Checking MMA

While the IBJJF rules do not explicitly say it’s banned, it’s frowned upon, and the referee will surely scold the user even if it doesn’t disqualify him. The rules say it’s illegal to apply pressure to the genitals of the opponent, and this rule can be partly used regarding oil checking.

But when the rules do not say something clearly, this leaves room for interpretation, and many in the community have expressed strong opinions to change the rulebook and clearly ban this dirty tactic. A small solace is the fact that gi pants make checking the oil harder and, let’s say, less unpleasant than in a wrestling singlet.

For example, big no-gi organizations like the ADCC and NAGA have solved the problem with more convictions and banned it explicitly in the rules, so offenders are penalized for doing an oil check.

This nasty move is also illegal in MMA, where the rules say you are not allowed to intentionally place a finger into any orifice or body cavity of the opponent.

So, luckily for MMA fighters, they don’t have to worry about some unwanted fingers in their back “orifices,” even though there are plenty of opportunities for using the move when the fight hits the ground. Compression shorts, loved by many MMA fighters, also make oil checking easier.

Why is Oil Checking Popular In Wrestling?

Oil checking comes from wrestling, which was common alongside other nasty or dirty moves. After all, wrestling in its earlier forms was common in fairs where challengers wrestled for money and as a pastime for miners, construction workers, and many other heavy laborers not exactly known for gentlemanly behavior.

While many more obvious foul plays have been long gone, from wrestling, oil-checking, and general butt-grabbing are still half-legal. This means it’s not explicitly forbidden and won’t lead to disqualification, but the referee may stop the match or issue a warning.

But as you will see from the disturbing footage I’ve linked below, this is not always the case, and even obnoxious oil checks can go unnoticed or unpunished.

Then the wrestling uniform, called a singlet, places little obstruction on the butthole and makes oil checking easy to do. Additionally, some moves, like grabbing an opponent through the crotch, are legal, and it’s possible to put a finger around the anus unintentionally. Still, the road between doing it accidentally and on purpose is short.

What To Do If You Get Oil Checked

A common and well-deserved reaction to a blatant oil check is to punch the offender in the face. But it is also the wrong reaction for several reasons, mainly because you will get disqualified and lose the match and likely any rights to compete soon.

Most likely, the first time you get your oil checked in a match, you will be surprised and not have time to react, but the best course of action is to immediately stop and bring the attention of the referee to the situation because there is a big chance he hasn’t noticed.

Even under IBJJF rules, where it’s not strictly illegal, chances are there will be some repercussions if the oil check becomes evident. 

So, if you ever become a victim of an oil check or other dirty tactics during a match, immediately stop and point the referee’s attention to the offense.


Oil checking is a dirty move and has no place in any BJJ competition, let alone during training. Putting fingers on an opponent’s anus to make him uncomfortable and gain an advantage is more commonly used in wrestling, but it can also be seen in BJJ. Even if you don’t think it’s gross and dishonorable, doing oil checks won’t win you any friends or a good reputation.