How to Break Grips on an Armbar Defense in BJJ

Updated on April 9, 2020
revolutionbjj profile image

Andrew Smith is a 3rd-degree BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, VA (Revolution BJJ). He runs BJJ Path, a video tutorial website.

The Armbar Finish Position

If you've been doing jiu-jitsu for a while now, you've probably gotten stuck in an armbar finish position. Your legs are across your partner's body and head, and all of the cards are lined up so that you can finish the joint-lock submission. Everything is going your way until you realize you can't break your partner's grip. Argh!

This tutorial series is designed to guide you through the most common gripping scenarios, all while maintaining your armlock position and effectively pinning your partner the whole time. We'll start with a simple palm-to-palm defense, but we'll explore much tougher defenses in future tutorials to come soon.

Grip Break 1 (and the Hand Switch)

When you reach the armbar finish position, it's important to realize that there are two very useful positions: "hand in the pocket," where your left hand (assuming you're armbarring your partner's right arm) reaches through into your "hip pocket" area, securing the grip; and the Kimura grip, the old standby of my jiu-jitsu game. When you're dealing with a palm to palm grip defense, the Kimura grip is your preferred option.

If you find yourself stuck with the "pocket" grip, swim your other hand under so you can stay connected while switching to the Kimura grip. The first grip break from this sequence is the simplest by far: Step on your partner's biceps, making sure that your heel points inward, and, as you extend to break your partner's hips, be sure to squeeze your knees together, and fall in the direction of your partner's feet, securing the finish.

The Other Three Options

After attempting the first grip break, sometimes your partner's palm-to-palm grip is just too strong to be broken with the stomp option. In this case, try threading your right foot through your partner's arms, under their gripping hands, and across to the other side of their head. Now just sit back, and see if your partner's head comes up off the ground. If so, grab the triangle right away by using your left knee to drive their head forward, and then close the figure four to get the submission.

If your partner doesn't take the bait right away, don't fret; you're all set to move on to our third grip break option, the X-break. Keep your right foot where it already is, in front of your partner's left biceps and with your instep facing their arms. Cross your left foot over the top and across their head, and mirror what your other foot is doing, flaring your feet out. Now extend your legs forward, mimicking the stomp option (but amplifying the effect considerably). The nice thing about this set up is that if you screw it up (or if you can't get your partner's superhuman hands apart), you can also switch to the triangle, option 4 from this position.

Maintaining the Position

Of course, no matter how good your grip breaks are, you won't be able to execute any of them if you can't maintain the armbar finish position. Start by ensuring that your hips are underneath your partner's shoulder (at a minimum; if you can get them jacked up so that your hips are almost under their back, that's even better). Second, make sure your partner's far arm is in between your legs (it's okay to cross your feet during this stabilization period, too).

Note that the pocket grip works best when you can turn and face your partner's feet, not their head, so plan accordingly (unless you like your partner escaping your armbars). With the pocket grip done properly, you can also post with your free hand down by your partner's hips, killing their attempt to come up on top.

Toughest grip break from the armbar

See results

There's More

Realize that this is just the tip of the iceberg with regard to grip breaks during armbar attempts, but the principles can guide you through a variety of situations, and even through other grip defenses. Once you've become good at stabilizing the position, your odds of breaking the grips go up exponentially, so be sure to get that part down first. Sometimes it's a good idea to try to simply hold your partner in the armbar finish position for a minute or two, just to see if you can stabilize the position and maintain the attack. Enjoy these techniques, and, as always, let me know how these moves work for you!

© 2016 Andrew Smith


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)