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How to Do a Reverse Armbar From Mount 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 the reverse armbar from reverse mount.

Using the reverse armbar from reverse mount.

Attacking From the Mount

Suffocating. Stifling. Smothering. Alliteration aside, a good mount should conjure all of these words. What follows is one of my favorite attacks from mount: the reverse armbar or armlock. This attack is extremely low risk, and over time it has developed into a very high-percentage submission for me. The trick is to creep forward, inch by inch, making things gradually just a hair worse for your opponent, before sealing the deal with the joint lock. This is one of the most dominant submissions in the game.

The Setup

This positional sequence starts from the low mount, with your ankles crossed behind your partner's hips and your hips driving into your partner's solar plexus area for maximum control of their hips. Start by establishing solid shoulder pressure with your left arm underneath your partner's head, gripping the far armpit if possible. If you can create some shoulder pressure on their neck, that works fantastically to sap their will to live (and to get them to react exactly how you want them to react). If not, just focus on turning their head away. Next, establish an underhook with your right arm. Hooking underneath their elbow (much like a heel hook finish) can help to establish this by walking your fingers up toward their head. As their arm creeps up to their head, they'll have a simple choice: either they'll give you the arm triangle, or they'll try to overhook your arm and give you the reverse armbar. Assuming they opt for the latter, as soon as you get there, start climbing up until you can get your feet on your partner's hips. Finally, you're all set to finish the reverse armlock as described below.

Securing the Lock

Here, near the end of the sequence, your partner may elect to fight the arm triangle with all his might. If this happens, they're essentially giving you the gift of the reverse armlock. Your only two jobs are to keep your partner from overhooking your arm (accomplished by walking your hand up and flaring your right elbow out as necessary) and to keep your head in between your partner's head and their trapped left arm. Your outside (left) foot will step on your partner's hip, and then your right foot will step up, allowing you to start locking your partner's arm out straight.

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The Finish

Once the position is carefully secured, it truly becomes a game of inches. The idea here is to position your right forearm behind your partner's left elbow so that you can pull inward while pushing outward with your neck and head on your partner's hand and wrist, thus hyper-extending the elbow. Interestingly enough, your partner's shoulder flexibility will have a lot to do with how far you need to go in order to get the tap on their elbow.

Bringing your shoulder up toward your ear will help tremendously to focus the isolation, and although the elbow can be brought inward with a simple lift of your right elbow, you really need to apply outward pressure with your head in order to get the submission if your partner is reasonably flexible. Be careful: Not all elbows are created equal!

Finish Details

This clip sums up two of the most important elements of the joint lock itself. First, at the very end of the video, I do my best impression of someone with a pinched nerve, forcing my ear over to my shoulder, and my shoulder up to my ear. Do this when the moment of truth arrives and you're close to getting the finish! This makes a lot of difference. Second, on the elbow pinch: don't just focus on lifting your elbow up, but rather, be sure to bring your elbow in close to your ribs. This is exactly the right direction to lock out (and, eventually, to dislocate) the elbow you're attacking.

Time Pays Off

This is one of those moves that was probably introduced to me the better part of 20 years ago, but which I didn't get any good with until maybe five years ago. It is now "A-game" material for me. The trick definitely lies in incrementally creeping up toward your finish, always moving forward and never back. Once you get the position you want, you are definitely much more rock than water. Work on this finish; it is bound to pay big dividends over time.

© 2016 Andrew Smith

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