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How to Switch From Omoplata to Armbar in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

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

Switching to the armbar.

Switching to the armbar.


The omoplata is a fantastic primary attack, and while it's relatively easy to get into the position, it's also relatively easy to escape an omoplata. For this reason, the switch to the armbar is a valuable tool to have in your back pocket. Virtually everyone knows the triangle option from the omoplata set up, but here, we're going to give you two much more unorthodox attacks that your opponent may be unaware of. Let's do just that.

Nuts and Bolts

The general cue to do this move is when you have an omoplata set up, but your partner might bury their arm (typically, inside their own thigh). While this means it's going to be challenging to finish the shoulder lock, this opens up another excellent opportunity.

Start by underhooking their arm, then planting your foot on the mat. This should allow you to drop your inside knee to the floor, completely changing your angle of attack. Now reach with your free right hand to grip your partner's foot or pants, and then bring them to your left (and continue to drive them to your right as you flip your body over to follow them). You should finish in a very tight armbar position.


Once you realize you're stuck in the omoplata and you can't finish your partner, try underhooking their arm with your left arm (just swim your left hand through the space provided between their forearm and their own ribs). The next step is to get your knee to the ground, ultimately ending with you facing their feet. You can either shrimp (open your legs to do this) or simply scoot into the position by assisting by pulling on their arm. Next, grip their pants or foot to help roll them over.

One adjustment you can make is to climb up a little higher, thus adding extra momentum for the "flip them over" part of the move that probably seems the most daunting at this point. It may be useful to consider the similarities between this and the belly-down armbar.

Another Path

A completely different path to the armbar is presented here. Start with a nice leg overhook, then transition into an omoplata (let's use your partner's right arm as the base assumption, for descriptive purposes). Anticipate your partner's roll; it's likely to happen more than 50% of the time, and probably considerably higher than that. As they roll, just turn your hips away from them, facilitating not only the roll, but also the finishing position of your feet. Attack the wrist that's right in front of you (go for a very simple gooseneck attack). As your partner reaches over to defend the wristlock (they will nearly every time), use this opportunity to catch a Kimura grip on your partner's left arm. Now it's just a matter of spinning around to the other side, utilizing the complete mechanics of our Kimura system to get to the back, then set up the finishing armbar.


These two different approaches can both work well for you. As a Kimuraphile, I've been a huge fan of the latter approach for quite some time, but efficiency is your friend, and if you can work out a smooth transition to the armbar straight from the omoplata attempt, it should serve you well throughout your jiu-jitsu career. Keep in mind that nothing comes easily in jiu-jitsu, so you might need to experiment a great deal before adding a new technique into your game. As always, please let me know how these techniques are working for you!

© 2018 Andrew Smith


Usama Shahzad from Peshawar,Pakistan on March 17, 2018: