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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

02 December 2014

02/12/2014 - Artemis BJJ | Open Mat | Pressing Armbar

Class #609
Artemis BJJ (Bristol Sports Centre/MyGym), Open Mat, Bristol, UK - 02/12/2014

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When I saw this taught by Nathan Leverton at one of his Leverage Submission Grappling seminars, I thought it looked a little complicated for a fundamental technique. However, thinking about grips on Monday, I decided that the pressing armbar would flow well as a next step. I therefore wanted to have a play with it during the open mat session with Chris. Start by breaking their posture, then get an over-under grip (wrapping one arm around their head, the other under their arm). Get a gable grip (palm to palm) and then clamp down firmly on their shoulder.

I was breaking the posture first, wrapping up the head, then getting the second arm under the armpit. Chris reaches for the grip at the time as he pulls in with his legs: I think I still prefer my version, but Chris' option possibly results in less strain on the arm pulling on the head. Next you need to get that arm extended. Today we were finding that flaring the elbow to lift their arm into place works fairly well, clamping their wrist between your head and shoulder. You also need to pop your hips to the extended arm side, as if you stay flat on your back you're going to struggle to get the submission.

The next tricky part is getting your head-wrapping arm over their head. That's the point where I find you leave the most space. There are a few options here. First up, you can lock up their outstretched arm with just the one arm, cinching that in tight. That way, you don't have to worry as much about leaving space where you adjust your head-wrapping arm. It also means you can use that head-wrapping arm to push on their head, which helps set up the next step, getting your legs in place.

Alternatively, rather than pushing on the head, you can use that spare arm to grab the elbow of their extended arm and twist it towards their head. If you can get it, this works well. That's because it stuffs their escape, as to get their arm free, they have to turn their elbow down. If you have locked that in place, they can't. It actually becomes painful to try. A third option is to maintain your gable grip all the way through. Swing your head wrapping arm over their head, leaving you with a tight gable grip on their shoulder. From there, you can slide both arms down into position by their elbow.

Whichever option you choose, you want to shift further onto your side, bringing your legs higher up their back. Ideally, you want to have both knees squeezed into either side of their shoulder. Failing that, get your leg on their back good and high, in order to squash them into the mat. That makes the armbar much easier. If they are still upright to any extent, they have some leverage to drive into you and recover their arm.

Once you have all that in place, you just need to pull down on their elbow for the sub. Keep in mind that there needs to be some space to pull down into. If you haven't got enough on your side and you're holding too low with your head and shoulder clamp, you might end up just shoving their arm into your own chest.

It's important to secure both their wrist and their shoulder for this to success. Nathan Leverton had a name for this at his LSG seminar: 'stick theory'. In other words, to snap a stick across your knee, you hold it at both ends, not just one. Final thing to try is turning their arm with your arm. Grabbing and twisting with your hand is easiest but not always practical. You can achieve that same turn by driving your locking arm across, rolling their elbow up as you do.

Chris wanted to practice a kneeling guard break too, where he had a small addition I liked in his version. Rather than the gradual scooting back, Chris does a twist. It's pretty much the same position, except more explosive. I found it tough to maintain my guard when he did that. Trying it myself, wedging the knee in first like I normally do helps. I also found a random new grip to try, because Chris forgot his gi trousers so was wearing shorts. I didn't want to grab shorts, so instead I grabbed the bottom of his gi lapel and pulled that back, using it to anchor my arm, hooking the elbow behind his knee. That was what I then used to push down and open the guard.

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