Grapplers Graveyard

The Art of The Armbar

how to do an arm bar in bjj
  • Cameron Allen

    Cameron is the Founder of Grapplers Graveyard. He is an entrepreneur, athlete, and life-long learner. His goal is to build businesses that help people become smarter, healthier, and happier. Avid Cold Plunger, Blue Belt, and Tech Sales Professional who has a passion for building websites.

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When done properly, the arm bar is the most lethal submission out there. While it is typically a submission that is learned in the earliest days of your white belt, when perfected it can be a weapon in your arsenal that is reliable and gets you the on top of the podium when you compete.

This past weekend I had the chance to go out and compete in a local tournament. I ended up placing second losing in the finals to (you guessed it) an armbar. In this post, we will talk about how to properly execute an armbar and how you too can perfect it over time.

arm bar, jiu jitsu, mma

How to Do an Armbar

Okay, so writing down how to execute an armbar forces me to really think through the position and the key points you need to focus on when executing it. It is a challenge in itself doing this so bear with me. Throughout the post, we will have video demonstrations on how to do an armbar but for those that like to read here is a principled process:

  1. Control: First step is getting to a dominant position to be able to pull off the armbar. This could be in guard, mount, or side control. For the purposes of this post we will discuss how to execute an armbar from the guard. It should be noted that all principles of the armbar can be replicated to various positions.

  2. Wrist Control and Isolating Arms: Okay, from the closed guard position, you will want to get sleeve grips on your opponent. Let’s say you want to attack their right arm for this example.

  3. Important Mechanics of the Armbar: Let’s say you secure a spot where your opponent’s arm is between your legs and you are to their side. You need to make sure that one (or both) of your legs are across their body/face to eliminate their ability to escape the armbar. When you are controlling someone’s arm, it is best to grip their wrists with both hands to secure your grip. When the wrist is controlled and the legs are properly across your opponent’s chest and face, lean back till your back in on the mats. Just leaning back will not make your opponent submit or tap out.

  4. Pinch and Hips Up: The biggest point here is making sure you are pinching your knees together to create more tension on the elbow joint you are attacking. With the following points secured and pinched knees, you should be able to lift your hips off the ground (while keeping the opponent’s arms to your chest) to execute the armbar like it needs to be done.

Check out the following video for a detailed explanation from one of the best BJJ coaches of all time:

Perfecting the Technique: Executing the Armbar with Precision

The armbar is one of those moves that overtime can become a very pivotal part to anyone’s game. Being a high-level BJJ athlete calls for you to be able to execute simple moves like this almost to perfection. One split moment can open up the opportunity to land this submission and once you nail it down, it’s hard to get out of.

The only real advice I have for those looking to perfect this move is to go for it every time you have the chance to when rolling with your partners. After some well-spent time on the mats, you will start to see openings for pulling off an armbar that only may last a couple of seconds. Seizing those moments in a tournament can be the difference between you getting Gold and Silver.

I personally love the armbar and would say that it is a move that I am always hunting for. I specifically have an instinct for finding the moments to pull it off when my opponents are on their backs and extend their arms out to push me away. Anytime someone leaves their arms out away from their body like this is a good opening for you to shoot that armbar.

The Art of the Armbar

Here are some pointers that can help you improve your armbar:

  • Getting your opponent’s arm over your outside hip protects your jewels and actually helps sink in the submission faster

  • Flying Armbars are a thing, practice before trying to pull this off

  • Crossing your feet across your opponent’s head will allow for more tension on the elbow when you hip up into the elbow joint

At the end of the day, practice and time on the mats is going to make you better at pulling off the arm bar. It is a super common move that is learned really early on in your BJJ journey. Watching videos and pulling off this submission in live rolls in advanced-level classes is going to be your way at crafting your own style of play that makes you unique on the mats.

Keep grinding. Hunt for submissions.

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