The arm bar is one of the first submissions I remember learning on my first day of Jiu Jitsu. Over the years of drilling and repping my arm bars, there have been three important concepts that have helped me understand how to finish the arm bar effectively. Fine tuning each of these concepts can take your arm bar from being at a white belt level to one day possibly being at a Ronda Rousey level.
1. Thumbs Up
When applying any sort of arm lock it is vital that you look at the direction the thumb is facing. Your thumb acts as a guide for your hips by telling you which direction you need to shoot your hips. The direction the thumb is facing is the direction you will shoot your hips. If your partner is giving you a thumbs up then lift your hips up to finish the armbar. If your partner is pointing their thumb off to the left then you point your hips to the left and hip up. Personally I like to make my partner give me a thumbs up because it is easier to shoot my hips up into the sky. Plus getting a thumbs up while you are tapping someone is a pretty awesome!
2. Pinch Your Knees
Pinching your knees can be the difference between finishing the armbar and your opponent escaping. If you don’t believe me just go and ask UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre. In GSP‘s fight with Dan Hardy he applied a deep armbar that most people thought was going to finish the fight. So what did GSP do incorrectly that allowed Dan Hardy to escape? He didn’t pinch his knees. By leaving his knees open he gave Hardy some wiggle room to move his body around until he found an escape. If GSP had pinched his knees together he would have trapped Hardy and been able to get the tap.
Yes I may be dating myself with the Wayne’s World reference but the last key to finishing the arm bar is to lift your hips in the schwing motion. If you don’t know what I’m talking about please visit YouTube and look it up. By apply the schwing and raising your hips you are applying an immense amount of pressure that can lead to the arm breaking. Proper hip raising can also eliminate the strength battle that can occur when trying to finish the arm bar. Fighting arm strength with arm strength is difficult. I find it much easier to battle my opponent’s arm strength with my hips.
If you want to learn even more about the arm bar make sure to stop by 10th Planet Van Nuys and take one of our fundamentals classes. In these classes we spend a lot of time breaking down the finer points of submissions. Hope to see you soon!