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A Simple Training Strategy for Improving Armbars in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

Updated on October 19, 2016

The path to getting better at armbars in BJJ can benefit from a very basic training module.

There seems like there are a million variations of the armbar in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, MMA, submission wrestling and Judo. All these variations can make it a little confusing for those trying to improve their performance at these locks.

If you want to get better at BJJ armbars, the following simple training formula might be worth reading about...

Starting at the Finish

No matter how you perform a basic armbar, you generally end in the same finishing position. So, working on the mechanics of the finish might be a good place to start if you want to improve the effectiveness of your armbars. The upper torso of your opponent will be pinned down by the downward pressure of your legs. Your knees will be squeezed together holding the arm in place. You will secure the opponent's arm by gripping it with your own hands and the elbow will be over your pelvis. When you raise your pelvis., the elbow is hyper-extended. There may be a few details left out here and there are, of course, variations, but you get the general idea: an armbar is an armbar no matter how you enter into it. As long as you have the proper finishing mechanics of the armbar down, it will be tough for an opponent to get out of it.

Starting the Armbar

From the top position, there are a few ways in which you can enter into the armbar. Generally, you will have to secure the arm in some way with your own arms and then fall back or spin into the finishing armbar position. In some instances, your opponent will literally give up an arm. Other times, you will have to work your way into the armbar. In other scenarios, you will hit an armbar as part of a combination. Regardless of how you start the armbar, you will likely have to secure it with your own arms and spin your legs around. When you see openings to do this, you can try to execute the armbar.

Working Out of Various BJJ Positions

The various top positions are mostly pins such as the side control, the scarf hold, the reverse scarf hold, and the north/south position. You also have the mount and the knee on stomach. Work on starting an armbar from these various top positions with your partner. Allow you partner to switch his arm positioning and posture around any way he sees fit. You can even chain the pins with guard and half guard passes if you wish.

Adding Resistance

Your partner can give you unscripted resistance at 20% or 30% when you are trying to work armbars out of the different positions. Your partner should also keep moving to simulate a resisting opponent. The resistance can also be employed when your enter into the finishing position. Your partner could even try a few escapes to get out before you are able to secure the lock.

If this approach to training armbars seems simple, that is because it is. It is also an effective training method that has been around years. Lots of people have used to to success which is why I adopted it as part of my own training.

Final Words and a Caution

Perform all BJJ techniques in a slow and controlled manner and under proper supervision. This will make sessions a lot safer.


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