How to Reverse Armbar in BJJ (Butterfly Guard)

Updated on April 4, 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.

Using the reverse armbar.
Using the reverse armbar.

Tough to Finish, But Easy to Catch

The reverse armbar is a great submission to learn as a white belt, but you probably won't finish it with any sort of reliability until at least blue belt, and quite possibly much later. This submission is especially nuanced; there's a fair amount you have to get just right in order to be able to finish a game opponent. However, a conceptual overview and some tips and tricks will go a long way toward shortening this time frame. Once you're good at the finish, it's far less effort than many of the alternatives, as the entry can be very easy.

Here are two different ways to set up the reverse armbar and several small tips to help you get the submission once you get there.

1. Same-Side Overview

Here's the classic "same side" entry. This position begins with a classic bread-and-butter butterfly-guard sweep attempt, with you underhooking your partner's arm. As you go to turn the corner and hit the basic sweep, your partner shuts you down by basing in toward you. As this happens, you can leverage your partner's wrist up beside your head, using an "answering the phone" grip between your ear and shoulder in order to "hold" your partner's wrist in place.

Meanwhile, the general concept is to apply pressure downward on their shoulder while you also apply outward pressure with your neck and head against their wrist, and then inward pressure with your forearm right above their elbow.

Preventing the Escape

If your partner's thumb (and elbow) can rotate palm-up, they can escape the armlock (remember that the elbow pressure is inward, and they are effectively rotating to face the opposite direction, making the traditional finish impossible). Here is where special attention paid to the shoulder-squeeze component can come to the rescue, making this initial rotation all but impossible. Meanwhile, your head and neck can "sit up" in order to bring their wrist out and away from their body, further making any sort of rotation difficult.

2. The Far-Side Arm

One nice thing about this submission setup from butterfly guard in particular is that you can hit it on either arm. If you're underhooking and your partner isn't interested in giving you much space to get that arm, or (more likely) they post when you go for the classic sweep, they're giving you everything you need for this second variation.

As they post to prevent the sweep, reach for their far arm with a palm-to-palm grip, taking care to make sure that you are just above their elbow. Now use their elbow to start pulling you over to that side of their body (you are going to go from hip to hip here, so you might need to scoot along the ground with a shrimp movement, or you might be able to pull yourself with your partner's arm if they're much bigger than you. Once on this far side, the submission is the same, but your setup might be even easier, since you are making the proper grip to get the finish much earlier in the process, before you even scoot all the way over to the other side.

3. Back to the Same Side

This third option goes back to the original side, but relies on your partner to use good sweep prevention by posting. When they post on the far side, this may make the initial side even easier to set up. As you go for the classic butterfly-guard sweep, just stay out on your hip so that you can dig their arm out much easier. Finish the submission as before, troubleshooting as needed.

Which reverse armlock from butterfly guard is your favorite?

See results

Butterfly Guard

Butterfly guard is an amazingly versatile position, offering both lower- and upper-body submissions, and a wide range of sweeps to both sides. Adding in reverse armlocks can not only add another submission to the repertoire, but also can make all of your other attacks more effective, as your partner will be concerned with their elbow and arm positioning at all times. Practice these setups and find one or two that work best for you, and, as always, let me know how things are going for you on the mats!

© 2017 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)