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Armbars 101: How to do a tight armbar

How to effectively use one of the most powerful and well known submissions in jiu jitsu

The armbar is one of the most famous and well-known techniques used in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, grappling, judo, sambo, and MMA. The armbar is a direct attack on the elbow joint, and it works by hyperextending it and eventually dislocating it. In Japanese, the armbar is called juji-gatame, which means cross-armlock. While the armbar usually refers only to a straight armlock covered in this article, an armlock is any type of joint lock that attacks the arm, such as a Kimura or Americana.

The armbar from mount

This article aims to give you insights and all the necessary information about the armbar. We will go over some essential details and concepts when attacking the armbar. We will cover various armbar configurations, breaking mechanics, and more information that will improve your success rate with this submission. Our article concludes by discussing some of the best ways to enter the position, common defenses, and additional resources you can use to study the move. 

Additionally, we will explore the reverse armbar as a way to approach this submission. This article was heavily influenced by the teachings of some of the best coaches and competitors in our sport, such as John Danaher, Lachlan Giles, Roger Gracie, Xande Ribeiro, and Gordon Ryan. Enjoy!

What is an armbar?

The armbar is an extremely versatile submission hold. It can be used from the mounted position, side control, knee on belly and more. In mixed martial arts and BJJ tournaments, the armbar is one of the most successful finishing holds (rear-naked choke and guillotines have more finishes). Additionally, the armbar combines incredibly well with other techniques, such as the triangle choke, collar choke, and leglock attacks. 

The armbar is not only a submission hold. You can also use it to control your opponent and sweep them. In judo, the armbar is an excellent method to pin an opponent down and get the victory. 

The armbar is one of the oldest types of locks used in grappling. However, its origins are unknown. Various forms of armlocks were used in Ancient Greece, with the more complex straight armlock possibly appearing in Japan during the ju-jutsu days. Later, it became a regular part of judo as juji-gatame. 

Speed vs control-based armbars

When attacking armbars, there are two methods we can use: the speed and the control method.

Speed-based methods are used to get to an armbar quickly and finish the fight. On the other hand, control-based methods use various intermediary steps that control our opponent’s head and shoulder, eventually leading to a finish. 

Control-based methods should be the priority when studying armbars, and you should consider spending most of your time in mastering these methods. However, speed-based approaches should also be known, especially when attacking from bottom or standing position. This article will primarily focus on control-based armbars.

Speed-based armbars

Speed-based armbars are mostly used from the bottom position. The key element in these attacks is getting a grip and quickly attacking your opponent. Speed armbars can be used when you feel your opponent is not paying attention to his elbow position or when you need to attack a submission quickly and end the match. 

Although there are speed-based armbars from the top position as well, you should avoid them as much as possible. This is because speed-based armbars from the top can cost you the top position, possibly resulting in a loss. 

Fast armbars are usually performed from the closed guard and require you to have a grip on your opponent’s wrist and create a 90-degree angle. From there, swing your leg (the crossface leg) over your opponent’s head to secure the lock. Squeeze your knees and push your feet down, control your opponent’s wrist with both hands and finish the armbar. Do not let your hips drop down because that will significantly lessen the pressure.

How to do an armbar in three steps

This section will show you how to do a perfect armbar from the mounted position. The mounted armbar is regarded as one of the fundamental moves of jiu-jitsu, and it is an attack that you should master.

Step 1: Use the ratchet method to trap your opponent’s arm

When going for an armbar attack from the mount, you should first isolate your opponent’s arm and move it across his centerline. This can be a problem because your opponent usually has his elbows connected tightly to his ribcage, making it difficult to move them. 

To overcome this, you should use the ratchet method, as John Danaher calls it:

  • Secure a crossface and have your wrist below your opponent’s elbow. 
  • Walk your hand in a circle as far as possible; once your opponent starts resisting, bring your head over his head and extend your arm. 
  • From there, you can walk his hand forward and bring his elbow above his shoulder line. 

As a result, you will have no difficulty moving his elbow past his centerline.

Step 2: Convert to s-mount and bring your leg over

The Japanese term juji-gatame has a lot of wisdom in it. It means “cross armlock.” This is a good reminder that you should be across your opponent and have a perpendicular angle whenever you go for an armbar. To achieve this, you need to convert from a regular mount to an s-mount. 

To get into s-mount:

  • Put your knee over your opponent’s shoulder (the shoulder of the isolated arm) and move forward
  • Sweep your other leg around and make a turn so that you are perpendicular to your opponent. 
  • Make sure that your knee is controlling his shoulder, and your other knee is in his armpit.
  • Put your ear to your opponent’s far hip. This will make your leg light, and you can put it over their head.

Step 3: Separate your opponent’s arms and finish the armbar

When you go for an armbar, usually the first thing your opponent will do is connect his hands. This will prevent you from extending his arm and finishing the submission. There are several ways your opponent can lock his hands; we will look at the different separation methods later in this article. Here we will take a look at the classic palm-to-palm connection. 

When you separate your opponent’s arms, you should aim to get to the “across chest” position. Consequently, his forearm will be positioned across your chest, and when you separate his arms, it will feel like an Americana submission, and he will have to let go. 

The key element is to connect to your opponent’s wrist and pull diagonally so that you are separating against the weak rotator muscles of his shoulder. Once the hands are separated, grab your opponent’s wrist and bring your knees closer to your chest. The detailed breaking mechanics of the armbar will be covered later in the article.

Why connecting to your opponent’s shoulder is crucial for success with the armbar

Although the armbar is a direct attack on your opponent’s elbow joint, it always begins with the necessary control over your opponent’s shoulder. Whenever you go for a joint lock, you should always control the joint above it to succeed. A heel hook, for example, attacks your opponent’s knee directly, but you must control his hip to achieve the submission. 

Whether we are attacking an armbar from the top or bottom position, connecting to the shoulder is essential for success. Now let’s look at this in more detail.

Bottom position: Keep your hips up

If your hips are low your opponent can posture out of the armbar.

The best way to control your opponent’s shoulder from the bottom position (closed guard) is through a top lock. A top lock represents a closed wedge around your opponent’s shoulder, preventing him from posturing up and escaping. To get to a top lock, you should create an angle on your opponent and bring your knee over his shoulder. From there, you will lock your legs as you would in a closed guard, but this time over his shoulder. When you have a top lock, pulling your hips up is critical. Otherwise, your opponent can posture up and compromise the position. 

Pulling your hips up in an armbar is critical.

Top position: Keeping your opponent’s head down

Drive your hips forward to push your opponent’s head down

Earlier, we discussed the armbar from the mounted position. The critical element here is always to have your hip close to your opponent’s shoulder and push his head down by driving your hips forward. If your opponent can move his head around, he can create space, which can help him slip his elbow and escape. Don’t stay stationary when you start losing connection to your opponent’s shoulder. Instead, reconnect to the shoulder and only then go for the finish.

How to control your opponent’s movement during the armbar

To develop a strong armbar, you must be able to follow your opponent through 360 degrees and achieve a finishing position. It would be a problem if you got to an armbar, then your opponent changed his position slightly, and you lost connection to him. 

Having the ability to always stay connected to your opponent and control his movement is critical if you want to become an armbar specialist. Ideally, you should be able to break your opponent, whether in the top or bottom position, but you should always aim to get to the top position and put him on his back. 

There are three crucial skills you should master to control your opponent:

  1. Pinning. The ability to immobilize your opponent and prevent him from moving around is essential when attacking armbars. If you can pin your opponent with his back to the floor, you can quickly move to other stages and finish the submission. The best way to control his movement is to hold his near leg and have a strong crossface leg.
  2. Sweeping. Whenever you attack from the bottom, this is a great way to maneuver your opponent and put his back on the ground. By doing so, you can easily pin him and separate his hands.
  3. Rolling. As mentioned before, a typical reaction you will get when attacking from the bottom is your opponent trying to stack you. Whenever this happens, you should be able to roll under your opponent and avoid the stack. Once you are underneath your opponent, you can roll him over and get to the preferred top armbar position. 

Key problems you need to solve when attacking the armbar

Jiu-jitsu is ultimately a problem-solving activity. Your opponent presents a problem to you, and you have to solve it in the available time. Whoever can solve each other’s problems faster and with better solutions will usually win the fight. As with most other submission holds, the armbar also has some central issues.

These problems refer to specific responses your opponent can give you when defending the submission. Identifying and overcoming these problems will be the key to your success. There are three distinct scenarios when attacking the armbar, and they all have different central problems. Let’s take a look at them.

Problems from the bottom position

You can encounter three problems when attacking an armbar from the bottom, specifically when attacking from a closed guard: 

Posture problem

When you attack from a closed guard, this is the first problem you’ll encounter. If your opponent has an upright posture, you will be unable to climb his spine and secure control of his shoulders and hips. On the other hand, if he has a downward posture, he will block your hips from moving. The ideal posture to attack an armbar is when your opponent’s spine is at a 45-degree angle. The best way to secure this angle is by using collar ties and collar grips (in the gi) and locking your legs over your opponent’s shoulder (top lock) to prevent him from posturing up. 

Stacking problem

Many people get caught in this situation when they attempt an armbar. It can be very frustrating to get into a position to attack an armbar, and your opponent stacks you over your neck, which results in you abandoning the attack. The first thing you should do here is to sweep your opponent to his back. You can do that by going underneath him and underhooking his far leg, removing his base of support. If this doesn’t work and your opponent has put a lot of pressure on you, go underneath him and come out the back door to roll him over. These are two excellent ways to overcome the stacking problem. 

Pull-away problem

If your opponent manages to pull his arm away, they can undermine your armbar attack. You should always be aware of this. The first thing you should do is a shoulder pivot. This is the same movement you would use to create an advantageous angle when attacking with a triangle. From there, move your knee from one of your opponent’s shoulders to the other. The crucial next step is to have your knee above your opponent’s ear and squeeze your knees. Your hips should be up, and you can sweep your opponent to his back to attack from there or attack the armbar directly.

Problems from the top position

Although attacking an armbar from the top position might seem less risky than doing so from the bottom, we can also encounter some defensive reactions:

Your opponent getting up on top

An explosive opponent can always scissor his legs and try to get back on top. This brings you to the same problem we mentioned before, the stacking problem. However, we should always try to prevent our opponent from getting up. To prevent this, you should grab your opponent’s near leg. You can take a grip either from the inside or the outside; both are effective. You can also control the far leg.

Grab your opponent’s knee to stop them getting up.

Elbow slip

This can be very frustrating whenever you go for an armbar. An easy defense is for your opponent to move away from you and slip his elbow through your legs. To prevent this, your legs should always be asymmetrical. In this position, your knees are pointed towards your opponent’s hips. Make sure that you are closely connected to your opponent’s shoulder and that you can follow him when he moves. From there, you can work on separating hands and finishing the armbar.

Drive your hips forward to push your opponent’s head down

The turnout problem

Also known as the “hitchhiker” escape. Later in this article, we will cover this common defense when escaping the armbar. If you attack your opponent’s right arm, he will turn his thumb down and place his elbow on your left hip. From there, he can roll and escape the position. Your goal should always be to put his right elbow to your right hip, so he cannot rotate.

Your goal should always be to put your opponent’s right elbow to your right hip, so they cannot rotate.

Here is an excellent video from Lachlan Giles explaining how to counter this defense.

Problems when attacking from the back

The back position is also a great way to attack an armbar. Here are some common problems you might encounter:

  • Turn-in problem. When you attack an armbar from the back, your opponent can try to turn into you and prevent you from putting your leg over his head. To avoid this, you should control your opponent’s far shoulder and put his shoulders on the floor first. From there, you can attack the armbar. 
  • Head position. This occurs when you attack an armbar from the turtle position. If your opponent has his head low, cover the back of his head with your shin and roll him over. On the other hand, if his head is looking up, put your leg under his chin and make a crossface leg.

The different armbar variations

If you want to maximize your effectiveness with the armbar, you should know how to attack with various forms of this submission. Each variation has its strong and bad points. Knowing the pros and cons can help you use them effectively and switch effortlessly from one variation to another whenever a problem occurs:

Quarter armbar

  • Easy to enter
  • Good position to transition to other armbars
  • Easy for opponent to escape
  • Weak control over opponent’s shoulder

This is the weakest form of an armbar. In a quarter armbar, one of your legs is a crossface leg, and the other is below your opponent’s shoulder. Therefore, escaping this position can be easy since you don’t have good control over your opponent’s shoulder and far arm. However, it is pretty easy to enter into the quarter armbar, and it is a robust transitory position from which you can switch to other armbar variations. 

Half armbar

  • Good armbar for transitioning due to control over your opponent’s torso 
  • Don’t have control over your opponent’s head

In this case, you have one leg over your opponent’s torso, but you do not have a crossface leg. The weakness is that you do not control your opponent’s head in this position, and he can easily turn into you. However, you can transition to other variations because you control your opponent’s torso. 

Three-quarter armbar

  • Excellent armbar for finishing
  • Good control over opponent’s head
  • Hard to escape

Contrary to the previous two, this variation is excellent for finishing. In this version, you take the leg over your opponent’s torso and put it inside his bicep so your legs are locked on his neck. As a result, you can control your opponent’s head exceptionally well. It is very difficult to perform a turning escape from this position, and because of the high fulcrum, there is significant breaking potential. Additionally, this configuration allows you to transition to a triangle quite easily. 

Full armbar

  • Provides most control and transition options
  • Less breaking pressure than other armbars e.g three-quarter armbar
  • Many well known defenses

Most people are familiar with this variation. You have one leg over your opponent’s torso and a crossface leg in a full armbar. Make sure to keep your legs asymmetrical and to control your opponent’s leg. From there, you can move your legs and transition to other variations, or separate hands and finish the armbar. 

Head scissor armbar

  • Better breaking potential
  • Creates some strangulation
  • Requires some leg dexterity to get to this position

This variation involves placing your torso leg inside your opponent’s arms and putting your shoelaces to your opponent’s neck. The other leg is over your opponent’s head and is a crossface leg. This configuration creates some strangulation on your opponent and a higher fulcrum, which provides better breaking potential.

Shoulder triangle armbar

  • Strong finishing pressure
  • Weaker control over opponent’s head

Earlier, we have seen that strong shoulder control is the key to a successful armbar. In this leg configuration, you lock your legs in a figure-four triangle over your opponent’s shoulder. As a result, you can finish the armbar with tremendous pressure. However, with this configuration, you don’t have robust control over your opponent’s head. 

How to separate your opponent’s hands when finishing the armbar

When mastering armbars, separating the hands is a crucial skill. There’s nothing more frustrating than entering a perfect armbar scenario and not being able to separate your opponent’s hands. There are several ways in which someone can lock his hands when defending an armbar: hand-to-hand, elbow-to-elbow, and figure four controlling your crossface leg. 

Rather than giving you a couple of different separation methods, we will introduce you to a mechanically advantageous position you can use from each scenario. John Danaher calls this the cross-chest position. This position puts your opponent’s arm in a disadvantageous position that functions like an American lock or a Kimura, making it relatively easy to separate the hands. 

Hand-to-hand connection

When going for an armbar, this is one of the most common scenarios you will encounter. It involves your opponent locking his hands with a ten-finger grip or a palm-to-palm grip.

A common mistake is separating the arms in a straight line with your elbow connected to his elbow. It’s essential to control the end of the lever, which is your opponent’s wrist. Put your elbow under your opponent’s wrist and pull his arm diagonally. This will give you the desired cross-chest position. Don’t pull with your arms. Instead, connect your opponent’s wrist to your chest and pull with your back. Remember that your opponent can perform a turning escape from this position. To prevent this, connect his right elbow to your right hip (if you are attacking the right arm).

Elbow-to-elbow connection

Another scenario you can encounter is your opponent connecting elbow-to-elbow. As a result, you will have a harder time separating his hands. Once you see this, you should always look to peel your opponent’s hand off and get the desired elbow-to-wrist connection. Be careful not to grab your opponent’s fingers, as this is illegal in most competition rulesets. Instead, focus on gripping the knuckles of your opponent. Once you have the elbow-to-wrist connection, proceed to the cross-chest position and separate the hands.  

Figure four connection controlling the crossface leg

This is the most advanced type of defense your opponent can utilize. He will connect his hands with a figure-four lock and put one arm under your crossface leg. By doing this, he can escape the armbar by removing your crossface leg. 

When you see this type of defense, move to the side and put your crossface leg over his elbow. With this you can push his elbow down and separate his arms. From there, you can insert your other leg inside his arms and push for the separation.

How to have a tight armbar 

Whenever you go for a joint lock in a competitive situation, there is a possibility your opponent will ignore the pain and move on with the match. In these situations, it is essential that you have strong breaking mechanics and that your submission attacks can create significant damage if someone refuses to tap. As the famous Brazilian jiu-jitsu saying goes: “tap, snap, or nap.” 

Armbars are extremely effective submissions that hyperextend the elbow. Usually, just that hyperextension will get you the tap, but in extreme cases, you must be able to go a step further and dislocate the elbow if there is no tap. We will give you three tips that will strengthen your armbars and get you more submission victories. 

1. Focus on the hardness and height of the fulcrum

There is no better example of a lever and fulcrum in Brazilian jiu-jitsu than the armbar. You have a fulcrum, which is your hip, and you have a lever, which is your opponent’s arm. Your goal is to break the lever over the fulcrum. Most people are taught to squeeze their knees and pull the arm down to their chest when finishing an armbar. Consequently, your soft thigh muscles serve as a poor fulcrum for the armbar. 

You don’t want to use the soft thigh muscles as a breaking fulcrum. Instead, you should use your hip bones. If you are attacking the right arm, you should put the arm over your right hip. 

Another element is the height of the fulcrum. If your legs are extended, the fulcrum is very low, which doesn’t create sufficient breaking pressure.

A low fulcrum doesn’t provide enough breaking pressure.

Focus on bringing your knees to your chest to raise the fulcrum. By creating a high and hard fulcrum, you will make substantial breaking pressure over the elbow.

A high fulcrum provides substantial breaking pressure.

2. The “right right right” rule

Your opponent’s right elbow is over your right hip and their hand is over your right armpit.

A very effective rule you can follow to increase the power of your armbars is the right right right rule. When attacking the right arm, you should position your opponent’s elbow over your right hip and his hand over your right armpit. The opposite goes if you are attacking the left arm. Ensure you are always controlling the end of the lever, which is your opponent’s wrist. Therefore, you can manipulate his arm and prevent him from escaping.

3. Use your hips

Whenever you are attacking a major joint lock, a simple principle you should follow is the opposing forces principle. Imagine that you want to tear a piece of paper. You can notice that your two hands are always moving in opposite directions. Because of this, the paper will tear easily; the same goes for joint locks. You always need to have two forces going in different directions. 

A proper armbar attack involves pulling your opponent’s right arm over your right hip, then bringing your hips up and tilting them left. By doing this, you will be able to increase the power of your armbars and thus get more submissions.

Should you cross your feet when doing an armbar?

Some say you should never cross your feet, while others say it is good to cross them. Both can be true: sometimes you should cross your feet, and sometimes you shouldn’t. As a general rule:

when you are working from the bottom position, you should have open feet. However, crossed feet can be a good addition when attacking from the top position. 

Crossed feet prevent your opponent from moving away from you when you are in the top position. Because of this, turning escapes are very hard to perform. On the other hand, when you are on the bottom, crossed feet provide weak head control, and your opponent can easily stack you. 

Armbar entries 

All of the details mentioned above will make your armbars much stronger. However, you should be able to enter the position from multiple scenarios. Prior to this, we discussed the basic armbar from mount. Now we will look at some popular variations you can drill and practice. 

Closed guard armbar entry

A famous entry to the armbar from the bottom position is the closed guard armbar. This is one of the first techniques beginners learn in jiu-jitsu, but it is one of the harder techniques to master. It is largely because of its popularity that people can predict and counter it. For this reason, you must set up a closed guard armbar properly to succeed. 

The best way to attack a closed guard armbar is through a top lock, which resembles a closed guard locked above one of your opponent’s shoulders. You should start by dragging the elbow to your centerline, and from there, lock a closed guard around one of the shoulders. It is important to move to the side and create an angle. A top lock will allow you to pivot off your opponent’s shoulder and pass the leg over to complete the move. Remember to push your heels down and have your knee above your opponent’s ear. Here are a few videos you can watch to master a closed guard armbar:

Side control armbar

Another excellent way to enter into the armbar is from side control. Side control gives you excellent control of your opponent’s head, and if you can get to the far side underhook, you can easily drag your opponent’s elbow over his stomach, step over his head and attack the armbar. You have to be careful because you are not entering a standard armbar but a three-quarter armbar. Upon reaching the position, pass your leg over your opponent’s torso and attack.

Here are some videos you can watch to learn more about this setup. 

Armbar from the back

When attacking from the back, your primary focus should be to get to the rear naked choke and finish the fight with a strangle. However, there will be times when you can’t get to this position, and you will have to switch to other alternatives. 

Transitioning to an armbar when you can’t get to the rear naked choke is an excellent option you can use. Convert your seatbelt control to a Kimura control on your opponent’s hand, and from there, pass the leg over to get to the armbar. To make this even tighter, you can lock a reverse top lock over your opponent’s far shoulder and put his back down to the mat. 

Here are some videos you can watch to find out more:

How to train armbars safely

Practicing armbars can sometimes cause damage to the person defending the submission. Most of the time, this occurs because people don’t know how to practice them safely and unintentionally injure their training partners. 

To prevent this, it is crucial to have rules that allow everyone to practice them safely. One rule that can help everyone is the three-second rule. This means that whenever someone has an armbar, the goal should be to control the position as much as possible (three seconds minimum) without hyperextending the arm and causing damage. Finishing will be easy when you can control an opponent for an extended time. The three-second rule is excellent for developing great armbar control, and it will make the whole experience more enjoyable.

How to defend and escape an armbar

As one of the most prevalent submissions in jiu-jitsu, the armbar is a technique you should know how to defend. Once you are caught in an armbar, the first thing you should do is connect your hands. You can do this in various ways. For example, you can use the s-grip, palm-to-palm grip, elbow-to-elbow grip, or a figure-four grip. 

In addition, you should keep your hands close to your chest so your opponent can’t move his legs inside and transition to triangles. When escaping an armbar, you should know that you can counterattack your opponent and go for leglocks. Let’s look at two of the most popular ways to escape the armbar: the turning escape and the passover escape. 

The turning escape

One of the most popular armbar escapes is the turning escape, also known as the hitchhiker escape. When you start learning this escape, it can seem scary, so progress slowly and practice with someone you trust. 

The key here is the negation of the “right right right” rule we mentioned before. You should first line up with your opponent’s legs and then put your thumb down and over their left hip (if they’re attacking your right arm). 

From there, you can perform a shoulder roll and escape. Be careful not to get into a triangle. Instead, pull your opponent’s leg with a scoop grip and transition to leglocks. 

The passover escape

This is another excellent and easy-to-use escape you can utilize.

First, move your legs close to your opponent’s hips and get parallel with him. Post on your opponent’s knee as soon as you are parallel and push his legs over your head so he cannot control your head. After that, you can lift yourself up and engage in leglock attacks with a scoop grip.

What is the reverse armbar? A special study

One armbar variation recently gaining popularity is the reverse armbar, also known as ude-gatame or cutting armbar. The reverse armbar is an excellent technique that combines very well with attacks such as the shoulder crunch butterfly sweep and the regular armbar. It involves you underhooking one of your opponent’s arms and locking hands over his elbow. 

How to finish a reverse armbar

Although the reverse armbar is not as famous as the regular armbar and is mainly used to transition to other forms of attack, it can still be a great submission if done well. 

The critical element in finishing the reverse armbar is to have firm control over your opponent’s elbow and shoulder.

 If you are attacking the right arm, your left elbow should be over your opponent’s elbow. From there, you should pinch your knees over his shoulder and bring his head down. Ensure that your opponent’s thumb points down and his hand is trapped on your neck, then push your hips away and finish the armbar.

Transitioning to a regular armbar

A great feature of the reverse armbar is that if it fails, it is quite easy to transition to a regular armbar. Move your opponent’s hand from one side of your neck to the other, and then put your shin over his head to roll into a regular armbar. Keep tight control over his elbow during the transition. 

The history of the armbar 

Even though wrestling has been around for thousands of years, with paintings of grappling dating back as far as the Upper Paleolithic era (15000 BC), there is not much documented in any of the hundreds of artworks about submissions. 

However, the ancient Greeks are known to have paintings and sculptures where you can see certain armlock variations. These were probably the beginnings of the modern-day armbar.

Ancient Greek sculpture of a wrestler applying an armlock on another wrestler.
An early 2nd century BC Greek sculpture of two wrestlers.

It is likely that the modern armbar evolved in Japan during the ju-jutsu days and was later adapted to the guard by the early judo men who brought their knowledge to Brazil

Since the beginning of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, the armbar has been a staple of the sport, with Carlos Gracie Senior being a huge fan. During the early 1980s, Sergio Penha, Pascoal Duarte, and Otavio Peixotinho developed the closed guard armbar. After Penha’s eye-opening performances, the closed guard armbar setup became one of the most utilized moves in jiu-jitsu.

The armbar eventually became a very successful move in MMA (mixed martial arts), where famous practitioners such as Royce Gracie, Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira, and many others won numerous matches with it. Today the armbar is a fundamental technique of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and is regarded as one of the most utilized submissions across all divisions and belt levels. 

BJJ armbar specialists

Additional resources to study the armbar

2 thoughts on “Armbars 101: How to do a tight armbar”

  1. I love armbars, there are so many details to perfect. There is a huge difference between white belt armbar and black belt armbar.


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