How to Escape the Armbar

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If you’ve spent any amount of time at all grappling on the mats, then you’re probably already familiar with the armbar and how deadly it can be. Not only is it a relatively easy submission to secure, but the submission technique also has a high success rate making it a popular choice for both beginners and experts. The fact that it doesn’t require a lot of skill, weight, or effort also contributes to its popularity among both women and men. For an effective armbar, all you really need is speed and positioning.

Patience is a virtue when it comes to pulling off an armbar. While some opponents actively seek the submission, others wait for their partner to make a wrong move then capitalize on the mistake. So make sure you pay attention to where your arms are at all times, and keep them in tight to your body when possible. (It’s much easier to prevent the armbar from happening in the first place than it is to escape it!)

Champion’s Choice: The Armbar

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Ronda Rousey is infamous for her brutal armbars.  As soon as her opponents get their arms within her grasp, it’s over for them. While armbars may look inescapable, we promise they’re not. There are many ways out and we will show you a few of our favorites.

Not only is the armbar one of Ronda Rousey’s go-to moves, but it is also one of the most common submissions in all of BJJ, MMA and submission grappling. Because of its popularity, it makes sense to train not only how to guard against an armbar, but how to escape one that is being set in. Most of the techniques are incredibly simple with just a few steps to memorize so learning and practicing them is a breeze.

The Escape

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We’ve all been there: one wrong move and your arm is quickly snatched, locked, and cranked by your opponent, quickly ending the match. This can be incredibly frustrating for beginners who are still trying to learn the basics and forget to keep their arms guarded and at a safe distance from their opponent. However, it’s also irritating to experts who may have ended up in a bad position or been more focused on their own attacks rather than their arm positioning.

The good news is that there are plenty of ways to escape an armbar that’s being set in. Even if you already have great submission defense and know a few techniques, it never hurts to have more in your arsenal should your go-to defense fail. Here are a few of our favorites that actually work:

  1. The Bread and Butter Armbar Escape

While this is a very simple escape, like Stephan says it’s also very effective. An escape doesn’t necessarily need to be complicated, it just needs to work, so don’t overlook this one. This technique is also the one that Miesha Tate used during her second fight with Ronda Rousey to escape and quite frankly, that’s good enough for me.

For this escape to work, you will need to start by linking your hands together. Make sure you have a good grip because this will prevent your partner from extending your arm any further. Next, put your linked hands against his or her top knee. Again, this will prevent him or her from pulling your arm any further and provides you with much needed leverage. Now, push up against your opponent’s knee. This will throw them temporarily off balance and move your arm out of danger – but don’t stop there. You will need to put your head far back and arch your hips into a small bridge position. This will allow you to turn in the direction of your partner, explode, and move into their guard. Obviously, this is a much better place for you to be but make sure you don’t put your elbow on them because they can grab your arm, undoing all of your hard work. Instead, put your elbow on the mat.

Here’s the technique in action:

 

 

  1. The Sneaky Escape

Stephan brings us another simple yet effective way of combating the armbar. You’ll use this one when you need to escape from your opponent hooking your arms; it doesn’t really work if they already have you locked up. Stephan also promises that it will really irritate your opponent and you may even hear them swear.

Just like in the first video tutorial, you will need to start by linking your hands together and making sure you have a good, solid grip. Once locked in place, you need to start aggressively pulling your arm away from your opponent. This pulling motion will counter the fact that they are trying to pull your arm closer to them and prevent that from happening as easily. Now in an odd turn of events, you want to let go of your grip. While it sounds counterintuitive, this is where the sneakiness of the technique comes into play. Using bicep strength and keeping your arm bent, you will reach up with your free hand, grab your opponent’s wrist, pull, and escape their arm. Now you are free to transition into their guard, giving you the escape.

Here’s the technique in action:

 

  1. Rolling Your Shoulder

This is one of the simplest ways you can combat against an armbar and one you’ll likely learn from a training partner. While this escape does pose a little bit of danger to your arm, it is no more dangerous than the armbar threat you’re currently in.

Before you begin the technique, make sure to turn your thumb down towards your opponent. Since they need it to be facing the sky, this will buy you a little bit of time while they try to adjust your thumb. As your opponent starts to roll back with your arm in tow, walk your body in their direction. You want to keep your body as parallel with your opponent’s as much as possible, which makes it harder for them to set the armbar in. Now turn your elbow up as you roll either to the right or left, allowing you to free your arm and move into your opponent’s guard.

Here’s the technique in action:

 

Well, there you have it: three easy techniques that actually work and don’t require a lot of steps. If you’re looking for even more escapes to add to your arsenal than just these three, check out the listed videos below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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