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How to Do Perfect Armbar in BJJ – Details for Beginners

What is an arm bar submission?

What is an arm bar submission – let’s briefly start here

An armbar is likely the most famous submission in brazilian jiu jitsu. It also has a very high success rate in mixed martial arts and the UFC.

By hyperextending your opponent’s elbow, preferable across your hip bone, you can create immense breaking pressure.

This submission although very popular has some key details that are often missed by beginners when it comes to performing and escaping the submisson.

What is this famous submission?

An armbar is a highly effective technique in Brazillian Jiu Jitsu. Not only that, you can see this attack in other grappling sports. In addition, it it has proven itself highly effective even in MMA. 

The armbar is a submission move that involves hyperextending the elbow joints. 

The goal is to create a rigid and tight control. Moreover, you want to keep your opponent’s arm as straight as possible. Why? Because if not, then you will not be able to finish the attack correctly. 

If you are able to get your opponent correctly with your armbar, then expect that this will cause damage to their elbow. This can cause a fracture or sprain. Additionally, you can expect joint, tendon or muscle tear as well. 

One thing so great about this attack is that it is so versatile. Just like the kimura, there are so many ways to get your opponent with an armbar. Namely, while standing, mount, full guard, back take, and so on. 

Read on, and we’ll talk about how you can utilize the armbar as a beginner in BJJ. 

Armbar history

Let’s take a look at the armbar history ~

Did you know that the armbar can be traced back to the Upper Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) era? That is correct! Over 17,000 years ago, grappling or grappling already existed. Hence, making wrestling the oldest living organized sport. 

Moreover, this has been proven by the cave paintings of our ancestors. Amazing right? Read on and I’ll go over the timeline of how we ended up with the armbar in BJJ, today. 

  • 15,000 BC – Homo sapiens, or the first modern humans were already grappling. They recorded this in petroglyphs. 
  • 648 BC – Pankration or the total combat sport of the Greeks became part of the Olympics. Pankration involved different forms of martial arts like: boxing, kicking, wrestling, etc. Moreover, Greek statues were made showing a single or double joint lock that hyperflexes or rotates the shoulder lock. 
  • 100-200 AD – Wrestling manuals were found in Greece with detailed instructions and techniques about wrestling. More importantly, these manuals discussed how to finish submission. 
  • Angkor Wat in Cambodia has carvings depicting a straight armlock. 
  • 1914 – Mitsuyo Maeda, came to Brazil and started teaching the Gracies.
  • 1937 – Helio Gracie has been winning competitions by submitting his opponent with his armbar. 
  • Present – The BJJ armbar has been considered an extremely dangerous move and has proven its effectiveness in the martial art industry. Moreover, famous MMA fighters in the UFC have won their fights because of this submission. 

How to do an armbar from closed guard

Let’s talk about how to do an armbar from closed guard. This is a very efficient technique that once you perfect, you will definitely submit your opponent. So how does it work? 

  1. If you find yourself on the mat on a closed guard, then you’re set one of the most effective submissions
  2. From here, choose an arm you want to attack. 
  3. Then you now must break their grip on the chosen arm by turning to that side and posturing up. 
  4. Next thing you have to do is push the arm away from you. From here, allow your elbow to drop on the mat, creating an L like figure. 
  5. Then start looking for their triceps. Make sure that you find the highest point so that you will be able to block the possible escape. 
  6. Once you have that set, place your foot (which is the same side of your chosen arm) on the hip of your opponent. This move also prevents them from escaping while you set up. 
  7. No pivot your body and head to the opposite side. Let’s say the arm you will attack is the right, so you will now move to your left. 
  8. Lift your left leg and place it a little over your opponent’s shoulder or near the armpit. Note to keep this leg heavy to prevent them from escaping.
  9. From here you are now ready! Move your left leg. 
  10. Make sure that your opponent’s pinky is towards the ground white their thumb is upward. 
  11. Lastly, you will now have to lift your hip up as you bring the arm down. At last, you’re able to submit your opponent. 

If you’re interested in watching how this armbar works, check out the video below. 

How to do an armbar from mount

Another great position to do an armbar is from mount. Let’s go over how you can work in this position. This is one of my favorite things to do if I am unable to get a mounted triangle. 

  1. Secure your mount. Make sure you put pressure on your opponent and block their hips (with your knees inside their eblows)
  2. Now, you must choose an arm. Let’s choose the right one. From here, you will have to bring their elbow to the center of their body while you block the left shoulder by cupping. 
  3. From here, allow your hips to help you attack.
  4. Hold your opponent’s head, as you keep sliding to the left. From here, curl your right foot towards their shoulder. Meanwhile, maintain the position of your left leg. 
  5. From here, you will now hook your opponent’s right arm underneath (picture this like you’re carrying their arm)
  6. Next thing is to step over the left leg. Now, sit back and gradually drop your back, while you keep your hips close to your opponent’s armpit. 
  7. Last move is to finish this armbar by lifting your hip up as you bring the arm down. 

How to do an arm bar from back control

There are several submissions you will be able to work on if you’re able to get your opponent’s back. But today, we’ll work on how you can do an arm from back control. 

  1. Start with your seatbelt. 
  2. From here, you can fall on your chosen side. In this case, let’s choose the left side. Once you’re here, hook your opponent’s left arm. 
  3. Next thing you want to do is a kimura grip. Then you can now block your opponent’s neck with your forearm. 
  4. To add to that, you can now swing your right leg over the head of your opponent landing on the same side of the grip. 
  5. From here, you can now finish your submission by cranking the arm down while you do a hip up movement. 

One thing I have to remind you about this attack is the placement of your feet. In order for you to prevent your opponent from escaping, you must block their hip with both of your feet. Make sure that you do not cross your feet.

Standing Armbar

What is great about the armbar is that it is super effective and you can do it in many different variations. 

In this case, let us talk about how you’ll be able to finish your armbar standing. 

  1. So picture yourself standing and trying to find your opening. 
  2. Now, you then have to fake an overhead throw by positioning it correctly. 
  3. Next, hook your leg over their head to bring them down to the mat.
  4. From here, you will now have an opening to finish your arm bar.

Note that what is extremely important here is to block their hip with your leg. Why? So that  they will not be able to escape while you swing your other leg. 

This is a great variation because if you are not able to finish it from here, you still have several other moves. Hence, I can really say that the armbar is very reliable. 

Armbar in MMA

Mixed martial arts are gaining so much popularity in the world today. One thing every fan is familiar with is, of course, the armbar finish. 

Numerous fights have ended this way, and yet the armbar still continues to prove its power and effectiveness. 

One thing about this attack is no matter how strong you are, once your opponent finds their position, that’s it! 

Ronda Rousey, a Judokan and the first ever female to headline a UFC event was known for her armbar. There are numerous fights that she won over by utilizing the armbar from different variations. 

Another one to add on the list of great armbar submissions is Nate Diaz. Nate Diaz was attempting to finish his match with  Takanori Gomi with a triangle. However, he was not able to finish the triangle. So he swiftly transitioned to armbar. Hence finishing the fight. 

Moreover, let’s talk about Royce Gracie. Another pride of the Gracie family has played in the octagon and proved to the world that BJJ is a world class martial art. He was able to win fights by submitting his opponent with his signature armbar. 

Check out this compilation video of the best armbar in MMA. 

Armbar in EBI Overtime

If you are familiar with the living legend, Eddie Bravo then you have probably heard about EBI. EBI stands for Eddie Bravo Invitational. This is a No Gi event that brings together 16 grappling contestants. 

What makes the EBI different from other BJJ competitions? Well, it’s main focus is submissions. Moreover, each match would last 10 minutes long. 

But what if no one wins within the 10 minutes? Then, that is when the EBI Overtime comes in. 

Allow me to explain what happens in EBI Overtime. It is when you have to flip a coin and the winner will choose the starting position for the overtime event. 

So what positions are there two to choose from? Well, there are only two options. 

  1. Spiderweb position armbar placed with the attacker at the top
  2. Back control using both hooks.

Since we’re going over armbar for today’s read, allow me to explain further further what the spider web position is. 

It’s when one arm is holding the leg up, while the other arm is in an armbar position. Personally, what I like about this position is that there is a small chance that your opponent can escape. 

If they do escape from you, you can transition to a different attack like a knee bar.

How to Escape an armbar?

There is no move in BJJ that you’re unable to counter unless they were able to finish or you tap. 

Hence, it is totally possible to escape from an ambar. Let me list down ways on how you can get away from this arm joint attack. 

  1. Calm down. The fight is not yet over. You can still get away from your position. 
  2. Focus on your breathing. Think. 
  3. Look for openings. There will always be one. 

Let us look at a possible escape plan from an armbar from mount. Picture your opponent, ready to bring down their back to the ground already. Moreover, about to raise their hips and crank that arm.

What should you do? 

  1. You can grab the tricep holding your arm with your free arm. This will prevent their arm. 
  2. From here, use your legs to get away from them as much as possible. 
  3. Once you’ve moved away. Look for the right time, to bring your hip up, and flip over your opponent. 
  4. Now their back will be on the mats. I know, you’re thinking it is still possible for them to submit you. 
  5. But, you can stack them up! 
  6. Apply pressure on their head. Use your body weight. 
  7. Maintain that position or play it around. 
  8. Keep it until you find the right time to pull your arm out. 

What’s the point of an armbar?

The armbar is a submission move that aims to break the elbow joints of the combatant. This happens by hyperextending the arm, and having a rigid tight arm control. 

Moreover, the armbar is an attack that you can achive from different BJJ positions. This can be from: 

  • Guard
  • Side control
  • Full mount
  • Back mount
  • Standing 
  • Others 

One thing so great about this is that it can always be included in your chain of attacks. There will be openings for this arm joint lock as long as you’re able to fully identify it.

Does an armbar hurt?

Definitely! There’s no submission in BJJ that is painless. Each and every attack is designed to either control or limit your opponent from attacking. 

One thing about the armbar is that if done explosively and quickly by your opponent, then you wouldn’t feel the immediate pain due to adrenaline. 

However, once everything settles down, you feel that excruciating pain on your elbow. Not only that your elbow was dislocated but the muscles and joints around it have tears. This adds to the extreme pain that you will feel. 

Is kimura an armbar?

Do not ever mistake a kimura as an armbar. They are far different from each other. However, they both can break the arm. 

For the Kimura, what mainly gets injured is the shoulder. Moreover, you keep a figure for position in this. 

Meanwhile, for the armbar, you want to keep your opponent’s hand as straight as possible. Lastly, this attack will damage their elbow.

If you are interested in learning more about Kimura in BJJ then we have a full guide that you can read. Just click here. 

Can you break someone’s arm with an armbar?

To date, I have not seen anyone break an arm with the armbar. However, the armbar can be considered as one of the most dangerous submissions in BJJ. You learn this attack during your beginner days in BJJ and will be part of you as you go along. 

Furthermore, with the hyperextension that is happening, the elbow joints can be extremely damaged. Trust me, this has happened a lot of times already. Why? It is because the combatant failed to tap or tried to resist the submission as much as they could. 

What are common jiu jitsu arm bar injuries?

Allow me to talk about the different injuries you can acquire from an armbar. Before you experience a fracture, your muscles, tendons and joints will tear. So what’s the effect? 

You will mostly be diagnosed with: 

  • Ruptured ligament
  • Skin bruising
  • Microfracture (if severe)
  • Joint and tendon tear 
  • Swelling

Hence, if you are a beginner in BJJ, practice your escapes. Focus on how you can get away from the situation and position yourself again advantageously. Moreover, know your limit. Learn how to tap. This does not mean defeat, it is just that you have to protect yourself as much as you can.  

Hope this has been a good read!

Keep on grinding and learning! You’ll slowly achieve your BJJ milestones one training day at a time! 

Til next time! 

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