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How to Harness the Amazing Power of the Arm Drag



There is a technique, or rather a maneuver that leads into various techniques, that I do not see discussed often. This maneuver has been used by many of the greatest competitors of all time leading to major victories over tough opponents. What is this wondrous maneuver that has such a profound affect on the success of its users? The arm drag.

What is an Arm Drag?

For anyone who does not know, an arm drag is a technique by which you grab your opponent’s arm, often right above the elbow, connect yourself to it with your grip and pull yourself to the person’s side or behind them. This technique can be coupled with back takes, guillotine chokes, leg lock entries and a whole slue of other options. It is an extremely versatile conceptual maneuver.

Why Use the Arm Drag?

Perhaps the most difficult but important aspect of the arm drag is understanding that as much as your goal is to quite literally drag your opponent in the direction in which you are pulling their arm is important, moving yourself around that arm is equally crucial. It is a question of understanding how your weight moves the other person and remembering Newton’s Third Law: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Bearing this in mind one needs to remember that in pulling the opponent down they are potentially able to pull themselves up, and around…

How do you Use the Arm Drag?

There are many great competitors who have made use of the arm drag in their competition successes. Perhaps best known for this is Marcelo Garcia who used arm drags in many of his matches with fantastic affect. There are, of course, many others who use it successfully.

Using the Arm Drag from Standing

When starting on the feet, the arm drag can be used to initiate takedowns or to acquire positional advantages. One can use an arm drag in order to obtain dominant grips from standing or to even begin to setup submissions from standing. Marcelo Garcia famously used the arm drag in his match against the much larger Ricco Rodriguez. Check the video out here:

Using the Arm Drag from the Ground

When on the ground, the arm drag can be used with great effect from the half guard. In half guard one can initiate back takes with relative ease using an intelligently placed grip. The half guard pairs nicely with butterfly, making the arm drag extra potent from either position.

From the full/closed guard the arm drag provides a great path to the back as well as an entry to various submissions depending on how an opponent reacts to the back take attempt. The more you play the arm drag game the more openings and opportunities you will find to use it.

What Makes the Arm Drag so Effective?

I think a major part of what makes the arm drag so effective is that people are generally weak behind the elbow. That is to say, if you grab someone behind their elbow and pull their arm forward their ability to stop you is likely to be less than the force you can apply.
More importantly, the arm drag relies on the dragger’s ability to force the person being dragged to bear their weight for a short time, thus forcing them to fall forward. People who get really good at arm drags are able to manipulate opponents much larger than them by forcing them to use one of the weaker areas of their bodies to carry their weight.

Another wonderful thing about arm drags is the relative ease of practicing them. You can very easily drill arm drags very safely without worrying about injuring your training partner, and of course drilling arm drags will make you better at them.

There are many reasons that the arm drag is so effective, and if you really want to excel at grappling, especially no gi grappling, it is an extremely useful tool. In the gi, the arm drag can be substituted for various other grips, like lapel grips, but in no gi the arm drag allows us to have the pulling action that we come to understand and love in the gi.

Bernardo Faria and the Arm Drag

One of Marcelo Garcia’s main people is Bernardo Faria. Faria is known for his absolute domination in the gi over the past few years. Lesser known is his also impressive no gi résumé. Check out this video that Bernardo put together in which he explains one of his methods of using the arm drag in his no gi repertoire.

Check Out Bernardo Faria’s Instructionals 

The Pressure Passing Encyclopedia 4 DVD Set – Click Here – For Digital (Online Access) Click Here

Escapes From Anywhere 4 DVD Set – Click Here – For Digital (Online Access) Click Here 

High Percentage Submissions – 4 DVD Set – Click Here – For Digital (Online Access) Click Here

The Power Closed Guard – 4 DVD Set – Click Here 




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