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How to Set Up a Tight Armbar From Guard in BJJ

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 an armbar from the guard.

Using an armbar from the guard.

About Armbar From Guard

The armbar from the guard, as I've mentioned in previous articles, is certainly one of the first techniques you're likely to learn in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, whether you're training for sport competition, self-defense, or just for fun. Unfortunately, it's one of the last submissions people typically get really proficient in executing against opponents of roughly equal skill. What I mean is that someone who is brand new to BJJ will walk in and you'll armbar them with virtually no problems off of your back, but hitting the same technique on a training partner at the gym is another story entirely. This tutorial is designed to help you start hitting the armbar once again from the guard and tightening everything up with the "high bite" position, making it considerably harder for your opponent to slip out.

Setting Up the High Bite

Start with a cross-grip on the sleeve, and, while pulling the arm across your body, frame off of your opponent's shoulder with your free hand (it's my right hand in the video, so let's just refer to it that way from here on out). While pushing your partner's left shoulder back with your right hand, your goal is to jump past their shoulder with your right thigh, locking your guard with both of your partner's arms inside, but with only one shoulder (their right shoulder) inside the space. Once you've jumped over their shoulder, your partner may still be able to shrug their shoulder back through, getting back into your (traditional) closed guard. Have your partner try this the first few times if you're doing this for the first time as a technique or as a drill, so you can make the proper adjustments. One quick trick: you can squeeze your knees together, which effectively brings your partner's shoulders together. From here, you can re-bite down with your heels curling in toward the ground, making the "high bite" considerably higher. Next up, swim your right hand through to your "pocket," making a much better armbar finish grip. Use your free left hand to grip your partner's pants, near the foot. Use this grip to off-balance your partner so that you can finish the armbar as they resist the sweep.

Quick Finish

Here's a quicker look at the same technique. Notice that you can also use the pants grip in order to create the proper angle so that you can just go straight for the armbar (instead of going for the sweep, which is described in more detail below). This can be a very quick finish if the circumstances are right.

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The High Bite Sweep

While finishing the armbar from guard is awesome when it works, it's also not super likely to happen every time against a seasoned opponent, even if they allow you to get to the high bite position. The good news: you can hit a nice sweep from the same position, and it's extremely hard to stop. Further, if the sweep misses because they stack you, you can switch to the belly-down armbar. Start with the same high bite position, making sure to angle out like before, and really secure the high bite position, squeezing your knees as needed. The sweep itself is relatively intuitive: just try to drive your left knee to the back of your partner's head, driving them forward, and taking the weight off of their legs. Next, lift and push with the pants grip, driving them over. Instead of going straight to mount, though, finish the armbar right then and there by keeping your "high bite" all the way through the sweep, only switching to the submission when you've slid your hips close in to your partner.

The Big Picture

These techniques work extremely well in conjunction with all of the aforementioned armlock sequences. If you spend time developing these moves, you'll find that you will use elements from them in various other positions (like the armlock from the mount, or the spinning armbar from knee on stomach, or an armlock from a Kimura grip setup). Ultimately, it all works together, and very specific, narrow moves can really help you refine your overall game. Enjoy the techniques, and, as always, let me know how they're working for you!

© 2016 Andrew Smith


saj on October 06, 2016:


Will try this move tomorrow.

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