Armbar Escapes with Dean Lister and Kurt Osiander
The armbar. One of the most classic fundamental submission in BJJ. Its one of the OG’s.
Cemented in history as one of most important techniques in the history of combat, the armbar takes on may forms and can be applied to numerous settings.
No matter your size or body type, there is an armbar out there for you. This versatile submission comes in many forms and can be executed from every position imaginable. Its power is undeniable and will produce a nasty break worthy of immediate medical attention.
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So, how do we stop it?
Defending the armbar can be tricky. There are different tiers of escape based on how much trouble you’re in. There are preemptive measures, middle ground defenses, and also third tier escaping procedures for those dead to rights armbar moments.
Because the armbar is so common, there’s been many years of study dedicated to staving off the dangerous submission. Millions of armbars have been attempted over the years, and in those fires are forged some of the most effective escapes in BJJ.
Let’s take a look at a couple of these escapes and see if we can find something that we can add to our own toolbox that may help us pull ourselves from the clutches of an imminent armlock situation.
In this first video we’ll take a look at Dean Lister's armbar defense. Lister is more than qualified to give us some advice on the subject as he has faced some of the greatest BJJ players of our time. His teaching is very straightforward and easy to follow. Take a look!
Lister begins by discussing the standard hitchhiker style armbar escape. This escape is common, but it does require that the top player be somewhat asleep at the wheel. There are multiple ways to counter this particular escape, and it has become such a common defense that most proficient BJJ players will be looking for it as they apply the armbar.
If you aren’t familiar with how to counter the hitchhiker escape check out this quick video with Lachlan Giles. He gives a brief overview of how to make sure you don’t lose your armbar to the escape. You can view it here.
Lister does something very interesting here, and also very important. When he begins to defend, he gets on his side, facing his back toward his partner, and elevates his shoulder as high as he can. From this position his partner does not have the same kind of leverage to finish the attack as he would if Lister was on his back. This positioning of his body gives Lister the time and ability to free his head from under his partner’s legs and escape the position.
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As Lister states, this is definitely a last-ditch effort to defend the armbar, as the arm is fully extended and close to breaking. But positioning his body in this way allowed him to escape Xande Ribeiro’s armbar, and if it gave Lister a chance with Xande, it could certainly work for us.
Let’s look at a defense for the armbar from Kurt Osiander. This particular defense can be applied to the middle ground scenario where the arm is not fully extended and we still have some time to unravel ourselves. Take a look!
Osiander begins on his back, where his partner has him in the armlock set up position. He takes a grip on the lapel with the hand of the arm that’s in trouble, and reinforces his grip with his opposite hand. As his partner begins to use his other hand to begin attempting to separate Osiander’s arm, he intercepts it with a grip on the cuff. With a solid bridging motion Osiander is able to cause his partner to tilt. This gives Osiander the opportunity to come up on top. As he turns his body over and begins to move to the top position, he uses his hand to push him further through the process.
When he arrives on top, Osiander then scoops his partner’s head, preventing any spinning under. He waits for his partner to begin to extend for the armbar and pulls his arm free. After he frees his arm, he then taps his partner’s hip and makes a turn to the other side, completing the technique, and escaping the armbar.
So, there’s a look at a couple of different scenarios where defending the armbar is concerned. There are two different levels of danger here, and a solution for both. Half the battle is understanding how much trouble you’re really in. Be aware! I hope this helps!
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