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How to Use a Sweep to Get an 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.

Dealing With the Stand Up

Closed guard is a great place to be in sport jiu-jitsu (if you're the person on the bottom). From this position, you have a fantastic series of possible attacks, including sweeps, armlocks, chokes, back takes, and generally frustrating your partner. However, the bane of many closed-guard players is when the opponent stands up, particularly when their posture isn't already broken down. This can be a daunting obstacle, and many a good closed guard has been passed in this manner.

Here, we'll utilize a relatively simple technique to deal with a standing partner, then go into a couple of different options once you land on the ground (both of which land in armlock attacks).

Getting the Sweep

Start with a cross grip on your partner's sleeve. If your partner doesn't stand up, just use the cross-grip arm-drag series. If they do, keep the sleeve grip, but underhook whichever leg they lift up first. Try to bring your ear as close to their foot as possible, connecting yourself to your partner so they can't lift you up. Next, lift your hips up and try to spear the inside of your partner's knee with your hip, making their foot turn outward. From here, they'll have to sit down.

It's possible to move straight to the mount here, particularly if your partner isn't pushing into your chest. However, the belly-down armbar from mount presents itself as a viable option whenever your partner pushes.

Finishing the Armlock: Option 1

Right as your partner lands on their back, you have their right sleeve gripped with your right hand, and your left arm is underhooking their right foot. Since they're pushing into you, you'll need to post on the mat in order not to immediately fall back. Do this with your left hand, keeping pressure forward onto your partner's outstretched arms. Now, switch grips to the other sleeve (their left arm), and curl your right elbow in front of your partner's wrist, helping to trap their arm and reinforce your sleeve grip.

From here, you can easily make yourself perpendicular to your partner and then step over for the armlock. Ideally, hook their head with your foot (using your shin across their face as a frame) to ultimately facilitate any sort of roll through they might do. Be sure your knees are touching together, and be sure you are all the way on your hip to finish.

Armbar: Option 2

Another option is to keep the cross grip on the sleeve. This works particularly well if your sweep is only partially successful (just makes your partner sit down momentarily), so they're not extending their far arm into your chest as a sacrificial armbar gift. While you have the sleeve with your right arm, use your partner's forward momentum (remember—they are trying to come up on top to avoid giving up the mount) to drag the arm across. From here, it's once again the familiar cross-grip series, punching their sleeve all the way across their body to your far hip, and then grabbing their armpit.

Of course, if your partner doesn't immediately respond to this threat, you can simply take their back by climbing around. If they try driving into you, you can sweep them to the side, straight to mount or S-mount. Of course, they're likely to try to posture out of the trap, and that's your best opportunity to hit the armbar from guard, using a foot on the hip and then angling out for the finish.

That's a Wrap

While this cross-grip standing sweep is a great place to start working on these armbar sequences, it's far from the only starting point. Virtually any standing sweep can lead you into an armlock if done properly, and there are also several other traps you can walk your partner into from various similar positions. However, I recommend starting with these moves in particular, because they're extremely easy to start working with (once you understand the basic mechanics), and they can be successful at an extremely high level of competition. As always, let me know how these techniques are working for you. I'm always glad to hear from you!

© 2016 Andrew Smith