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Fine-Tuning the Basics: Armbar from Guard

Fine-Tuning the Basics: Armbar from Guard


Without a doubt, the Armbar from Guard is one of the first submissions every white belt learns—or, at least, attempts to learn.

As with most techniques in Jiu Jitsu, it’s the wealth of small details that lead to success or failure with this submission.

And when we’re talking about small details, who better to go to than John Danaher.  So, let’s dive into the world of armbars—or to use Danaher’s preferred term, Juji Gatame—with him.

The first point that Danaher makes is that success is tied to the relationship between his opponent’s head and elbow in association with your hip.

Systematic Breakdown Of How To Improve Your Armbar! Click Learn More below!


As Danaher begins, he shows us the two-on-one arm grip (0:45) that most beginners learn during their first few weeks of Jiu Jitsu.  While this approach may work on other beginners, Danaher reminds us that it won’t work on higher ranks. Simply put, this grip doesn’t give Danaher control over his opponent’s head.  If his opponent knows what he is doing and postures up, his elbow will slip away from Danaher along with any hope Danaher has of achieving the armbar.

Instead of this approach, Danaher suggests an approach that 1) brings your opponent’s elbow across your center line and 2) gives you control of your opponent’s head. 

Danaher cups his opponent’s elbow with his left hand and pulls it inside his own hip.  In the video, he pulls it further, placing it across his torso so that his opponent’s arm falls right where your seat belt would fall in your car.  The further you can situate your opponent’s elbow across your own body, the better your chances of achieving the submission.

If Danaher fails to at least get his opponent’s elbow inside his own hip, he won’t be able to pivot and turn to get the armbar.

At the same time, Danaher reaches behind his opponent’s head with his right hand and pulls it downward.  Ideally, Danaher wants to position his opponent’s forehead directly over the elbow that he intends to attack (1:35).

The Best Instructional To Fix Your Armbar! Click Learn More below!


Having his opponent’s elbow secured inside his hip and controlling his opponent’s head, Danaher can very easily move from a closed guard to a higher, top-lock guard (2:43).  Note how Danaher’s top-lock—with the left shin locked under the right ankle—secures his opponent. Danaher’s left leg has moved over his opponent’s shoulder, trapping the arm that Danaher has targeted for the Juji Gatame between them and keeping his opponent’s posture broken.

At this point, Danaher’s victim cannot remove his elbow.  If he tries to pull his elbow out, it butts up against Danaher’s leg and goes nowhere.

From here, Danaher easily embraces and secures his opponent’s arm while releasing his top-lock so that he can use his legs to swivel to his right (3:07).  This swivel should be at least 90 degrees, sometimes even more.

Danaher then throws his left leg around his opponent’s head and is now in position to secure the submission (3:11) by putting downward pressure on his opponent with both of his legs.

To sum up his key takeaways, Danaher reminds us that a successful Juji Gatame set up will mean controlling and securing your opponent’s elbow inside your hip while also controlling his head.

Watch Danaher’s full tutorial on the Armbar from Guard below:

Join John Danaher with the latest installment of his systematic approach to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Check Out "Enter The System: Arm Bar" and get to work on improving your armbar game! BJJ Fanatics has it here!



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