Armbars and the Importance of Transitions

Why armbars are commonly underestimated and how to truly utilize them in competitions.

An arm bar can be painful and very easy to quickly get you the win if applied fast and precise enough. The problem I have found with the arm bar is that it is so commonly used almost everyone knows how to escape them but not always the right way. Yes there is a right way but so many people are not trained well enough in grappling to realize this. The common arm bar from top mount position is usually resisted by the victim grasping a hold of his trapped arm and holding it with the other to prevent it from being fully extended. This is an improper defense against an arm bar but sometimes it works due to the lack of experience or training of the fighters.

A trained fighter would note this defense that would force the fighter applying the arm bar to use more energy to break the arm free or use a nice tactic of hammer fisting the victim’s face with a free hand until he let go and the arm bar could be fully extended. That is one way but the proper way would be to transition to a new submission from the arm bar to what is called a bicep cutter. The free arm is already in position for this move. The fighter needs to hook it with one arm before letting go of the arm bar. The hand letting go of the arm bar then grasps the wrist of the bent arm you have hooked with your other arm and applies pressure to close it further. Your arm bends this way and unlike the arm bar which forces the arm to bend against the joint, the bicep cutter actually goes with the movement of the joint making it easier to apply in a way. Once the hold has begun figure-four if you are a wrestler or triangle if you are a jujitsu practitioner the folded arm to squeeze it shut scissoring your arm between the bicep and pinching it. This sends severe pain from stretched tendons and pinched nerves and muscles shooting through the arm and tears at them all. Many tap to this hold just because it feels like a massive charley horse that you can’t make stop.

That would be the proper defense to a resisted arm bar from top mount. Transitions are important. If you do not know more than one submission or how to apply them from every position on the ground then you really should consider learning them. It does not mean that you are not a good fighter or that you can’t win, however, it does mean that you have weaknesses to exploit. In the extreme sport of mixed martial arts and arm bar can be your greatest weapon to use as a set up and not necessarily your finishing move or it can be your undoing. If not applied correctly or having no knowledge of transitions to move into from a failed arm bar, you could wind up going from a dominant full mount, then arm bar to bottom guard or bottom side mount. Either way you have just lost the dominant position.

Triangles are important to utilize because they give you more leverage to more easily break or apply more pain faster to your opponent. A triangle is created through wrapping a leg around your target from a limb to the body or head of your opponent by bending your leg at the joint and hooking your foot beneath your opposite knee. Sometimes you will need to grasp your foot and pull it to lock it firmly behind your opposing knee. This triangle allows you to control your opponent in many ways if you know what you are doing. You can roll your opponent over or use leverage for a submission. There is a triangle defense however used to keep a triangle choke from completely cutting off blood flow to the brain and allow the defender to remain conscious long enough to escape or until the end of the round. The triangle defense is something better learned firsthand due to its technical training to properly execute it and therefore will not be covered in this article.

Transitions are important no matter how simple are minute the moves may seem. You can transition from a submission to a position to throw down punches or even transition to a position to get back to your feet. Whatever the transition is, I promise you that it is very important to practice over and over until you have mastered it. Then after you have mastered it, practice it over and over with someone else who has mastered it so that you are constantly challenging yourself. Your skills can only improve to slightly better than the toughest guy in your gym so make sure everyone pushes themselves to be better therefore becoming better than they were before. Don’t into the belief that you have to move on to a new gym where they are tougher. Train your team you already have to become tougher to challenge you. Unless you do not like the team you are a part of I would suggest remaining with your team. Having a strong support team in your corner is empowering. If you bounce from gym to gym those in your corner may seem supportive but you can tell the difference when your team actually wants you to win and supports you even if you lose.

Article by Kevin C. Davison

"I write to entertain, and for a cause."

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