Thanks to MMA fighters like Ronda Rousey and ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee, the armbar is slowly making its way back into the cage and onto the mats. The beauty of the armbar, unlike other submissions, is its ability to be utilized from many different positions.
Although the success rate of the armbar is not quite as high as a rear naked choke (especially if you are a smaller practitioner), there are several ways to make the armbar work for you:
Never assume that your armbar will work on the first try:
Just like any submission, your first submission attempt, especially if you are sparring against a skilled opponent, probably won’t work. In fact, you must assume that your opponent will resist the armbar.
The armbar is one of the easiest submissions to defend:
With that being said, the armbar is probably one of the easiest submissions to counter and defend. If your opponent is bigger and stronger than you, all he/she has to do is grab his/her hands together to prevent you from finishing the armbar.
Keep the armbar tight:
You should keep the distance between yourself and your opponent to a minimum if you want to finish the armbar. To minimize space, keep your elbows tight against your body while pinching your knees together. Keep doing this even as you lift your hips to finish the submission.
Have a backup:
Just like we said in the first point, your first submission attempt, regardless of the kind of submission it is, will not work. You must have a backup submission should your opponent defend/escape from the armbar.
Without further ado, here are some armbar submissions you could add to your arsenal:
1) Rolling armbar
In this video, ONE Superstar and BJJ World Champion Alex Silva demonstrates how he was able to finish his fight against Roy Doliguez with a rolling armbar. As you can see, Doliguez tried to escape Alex’s first armbar attempt. However, he leaves his arm trapped in the process, and of course, Alex was quick to capitalize on this.
Tip: One thing that really helped Alex finish the armbar was how he put his foot on his opponent’s head, preventing him from recovering his position and possibly escaping the submission.
2) Armbar from the back
In this video, BJJ Champion Eduardo Novaes explains how to transition from a failed collar choke into an armbar from the back. As his opponent defends and holds Eduardo’s wrists, Eduardo quickly switches his seatbelt control into a kimura grip. He then removes his hooks and swings his right leg over his opponent’s head as he lies down.
Tip: Practice switching from the seatbelt control into a kimura grip several times before trying out this submission. The grip change could get tricky if you aren’t used to switching.
3) Armbar from side control
In this video, BJJ Black Belt and Champion Almiro Barros shows an armbar variation from side control. He begins on top of his opponent in side control and then rises up on his toes to put his weight forward and apply strong shoulder pressure on his opponent’s face. He then uses this forward pressure to lift his opponent’s back slightly off the mat. In the space created, Almiro slides his knee under his opponent’s shoulder. When his opponent tries to push his shoulder away, Almiro controls his wrist, pushes it down and steps over his opponent’s opposite shoulder.
Tip: To keep his balance and get support, Almiro places his right hand on the mat and steps his other leg over his opponent’s head. He then completes the armbar.
4) Flying armbar
There’s no better person to learn flying submissions from than the Tobikan Judan himself, ONE Superstar Shinya Aoki. As with all flying submissions, the flying armbar must be executed quickly. As soon as you are able to trap your opponent’s arm, you must fully commit to the submission and use a combination of momentum and speed in order to finish it.
Tip: If you do not have any confidence in your technique, executing a flying submission would almost be impossible. It is recommended that you hold the rank of blue belt or higher before you attempt any flying submissions.
So tell us, which of these armbars will you try out today?