How to Finish the Armbar: The RNC Defense Grip Break (BJJ)
The Infamous RNC Grip
So far, we've dealt with a wide variety of armbar grip breaks, including
when they grab one arm, the palm to palm grip, and when they grab the lapel to defend. Now we're taking a look at what is probably considered the most difficult type of armbar gripping defense: the "rear naked choke" grip, when one arm is hidden under the other arm, and their other arm is hidden under your own leg. This can be an incredible stall tactic, but it can also lead to escapes when a very small mistake is made on the part of the attacker. Here, let's take a look at some very high percentage methods of destroying this grip and finishing the armbar.
The Palm Strike
Once again, if you're starting with the Kimura grip, you will need to switch to the familiar "pocket" grip for this finish. Make sure that you swim your arm underneath the Kimura arm if you are doing so, as previously described. Once you're deep in the pocket, your right hand is now free. Lean back and to your right to create some tension, and then smack at your partner's elbow with your right hand, breaking their grip. Once the grip is broken, be sure to hook the wrist with your free elbow, or else they are likely to grab something, and once again you'll have to break a grip.
The Mummy Defense
Sometimes your partner won't have the chance to do a full RNC style defense, but instead will opt for what I call the "mummy defense"; that is, their arms are crossed in front of their chest, like a mummy in a sarcophagus, giving them a chance to grab both gi sleeves. This can be very tough to deal with. However, it does leave them open to a solid grip break here. Reach across to their far elbow, and bring that in to you. This will not only bring their far elbow in close, but also start to extend their near elbow. Now it's just a matter of peeling their wrist free so that you can finish the armbar. Ironically, what gives this defense its greatest strength (gluing both arms together so that they behave as one) also gives it its greatest weakness. Side note: sometimes you can hit a nice wristlock right off the grip break.
Dealing with Double Unders
Ultimately, your partner may also end up with both arms under your top leg. This can be considerably more formidable than just the RNC defense, although it certainly belongs to the same family of defenses. Starting with the Kimura grip here is ideal, although not absolutely mandatory. As your partner tries to lift your leg, turn your knee in toward their chest, allowing your foot to rotate outward. This will prevent your partner from coming up on top, but it will also facilitate your leg slipping off of their arm, allowing you to start to extend their arm for the finish.
Two On One
The two on one "universal grip break" is probably my current favorite technique to use in most situations, but it works incredibly well from the RNC defense. Start with a Kimura grip for this one. You are attacking your partner's right arm, and your right hand is grabbing their wrist, while your left arm is laced through their arm. Keeping your left arm in place, thread your right arm underneath your left arm, and then put your right hand "in your pocket" (sometimes making a fist here helps a lot). The general concept here is that you are doubling up the thickness of your forearm, making it incredibly difficult for your partner to keep their arm bent. This is essentially what amounts to a "soft" biceps slicer (soft because all your partner has to do is let go and give up the armbar in order to alleviate the pressure), so use some caution in figuring out how the technique works for you.
Toughest to Break?
That's a Wrap
These last grip breaks are among the most common ways I get submissions while rolling. My partners will inevitably defend well, so I get a lot of practice going for the really tough ones, and have thus been able to explore this particular rabbit hole with aplomb. Enjoy these techniques, and let me know if they work well for you! Happy training!