Executing the BJJ Arm Drag
In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, there is one simple technique that opens up a collection of other techniques. One technique that can put you in a great position, regardless if you’re standing up or on the ground. That technique happens to be the arm drag. Arm drags work for everyone, no matter size or strength. It works because of the ability to use the force of the pull against your opponent to launch your own body and in with almost a magician's slight of hand, they will find themselves vulnerable to attacks before they even have an opportunity to react. The pull also serves to prevent them from turning back towards you which would be the best case scenario for them. The simplicity of the drag is what makes it work so well. Therein lies the importance of the arm drag. If you're more of a guard player, check out our article "The Arm Drag, The Guard Players Secret Weapon."
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Setting up Takedowns with the Arm Drag
The versatility of the drag is out of this world. On the feet, it sets up a variety of takedowns and trips. While on the ground, it sets up back takes, sweeps and submissions. Since all matches start standing, let’s talk about how it sets up takedowns. One particularly effective takedown off an arm drag is the double leg. Though why does the arm drag work so well here? The first reason is because it gets rid of a possible frame (the opponent’s arm) of defense and the second reason is because it will put you at a subtle angle that will make the takedown work. Check out how Marcelo Garcia, master of the drag, uses it to set it up. Marcelo Garcia is the classic example of the smaller grappler without a ton of strength who relies on pristine technique with which to set up his techniques. His use of the arm drag is legendary.
For another look at the importance of the arm drag and the variety of positions that it can help you set up, you will want to check out this article that explores the arm drag in all of it's glory. Before you know it you'll be pulling your opponent into your web and launching all sorts of attacks on them. No matter what your size or skill level, if you can properly utilize your grip and pull them to the position you want, while using that same force in reverse to move your own body, you will make yourself a terror on the mats.
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Using The Arm Drag from the Floor Position
The beauty of the Jiu Jitsu arm drag does not end there. When you hit the ground, it only becomes more useful. There is a choke set up right after the arm drag. Once again, why does the arm drag work so well for this? The first reason is because the opponent’s arm opens up and the second reason is because of the great angle it gives you to shoot your arms in for it. The one and only Keenan Cornelius demonstrates how this works.
In this video, grappling superstar Keenan Cornelius sets up a super slick D'Arce choke from the arm drag. In this example Keenan arm drags his opponent forcing him to base with that "dragged arm". From there Keenan brings his outside arm in under the armpit of his opponent wrapping around his neck and ending with his thumb at the base of his neck. This wrap sets up the choke as the free arm comes in and drives the opponent's head down slightly allowing the lock to happen. In many cases, this will be all that is needed to secure the choke, but if it is not enough, one can pull the opponent down and drive their chest into the arm that is across their neck thereby finishing the choke.
Taking the Back from the Arm Drag
Last, but certainly not least, is the ability to take the back from an arm drag. Taking the back from the drag can be done standing, off of your back and from seated position just to name a few. From there, you can hit any technique that you like from your opponent’s back. In gi, you have plenty of gi chokes and in no gi, the rear naked choke is still king. Down below, you can see Jake Mackenzie showing us a back take from the guard. Jake is easily one of the most established black blet competitors today!
Since the arm drag works so well, it is a valuable tool to experiment with in training. If you find yourself in any of these spots, try it out. It could very well become one of your favorite techniques in Jiu Jitsu.
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