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Hunting for Arm Bars in the Knee on Belly Position with Lachlan Giles

Hunting for Arm Bars in the Knee on Belly Position with Lachlan Giles


The knee on belly position is quite possibly one of the most dominant platforms in all of BJJ.

It’s hard to beat the feeling of establishing the position and keeping it as you hunt for submissions and opportunities to transition. Along with its dominant properties, the knee on belly is also a great place to mount some devastating arm attacks. 

My first experiences with the position were quite brief. As a beginner, I found it a bit difficult to establish control and stay in the position for an extended period of time, but as I progressed, I began to prefer the knee on belly to standard side control, especially when passing. During a guard pass, there’s always that threat of being put back in to the guard before you get the chance to cement your pass. The knee on belly provided me with a more accessible way to make my guard passes stick. Almost like a shortcut if you will. Once I made it to the knee on belly, I could choose to stay and work from there or simply drop down into a form of side control after riding out the storm for a moment.

There are some great methods of attack from the knee on belly depending on your preference and of course, your partner’s reactions. The arm bar happens to be one of the most common of these attacks. In this video, Lachlan Giles shows us how to attack two different arm bars from the knee on belly position. Let’s have a look! 

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Attack 1 – Near Side Armbar

Giles begins with demonstrating one of the cardinal sins of being on the bottom in a knee of belly position. Any kind of reaching here will almost certainly get you arm barred from the near side. The good news is, we only need one or two learning experiencing to commit this blunder to memory. 

Giles being by discussing the transitional period between the pass to the knee on belly. Here he uses a toreando style pass as an example. As he begins to pass the guard, his partner will more than likely block his shoulders, as his hips are too far away, and if the focus is not on the hips, the guard pass is given up very easily. With his partners attention on the shoulder, Giles takes advantage of the gap, and penetrates his knee in to the space to establish the knee on belly.

Its likely here that the bottom player will now retract the arms and begin to focus on Giles lower body to defend. For this reason, Giles feels it’s best to catch this particular submission during the transition. As he is completing the pass and feels his partner pushing on his shoulder, he shoots his right instep high in to the armpit, keeps his hips low and creates a bit of an angel. Look to grab the underside of your partner’s shoulder here with your instep as a reference point. Giles then passes his leg over his partner’s head, bites hard with his heel to keep the shoulders from moving, and sits back with the arm for the finish. 

You can definitely understand why this particular attack works so well in the transition. If there’s any kind of experience on the other end of the exchange, the chances are the arms won’t be extended and available once you settle in. Look for this one during the pass!

Attack 2 – Far Side Armbar

Passing up the nearside attack, Giles settle sin to knee on belly this time. As his partner moves, Giles stays close, using his outside leg to stay mobile and track his partner. As his partner pushes on his knee, a pocket of space opens up for Giles to acquire an under hook. 

Giles reaches deep in to the under hook and cups the bottom man’s shoulder. Here he uses a technique that he refers to as an “up and crush”. Using his far hand as a post, He employs his cupping grip to pull his partner up on to his side, burying his own elbow to the opposite side and putting pressure downward toward the ribcage. 

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Pushing down on the head t clear the path, Giles now takes a step around his partners head to the other side. Before performing this step, Giles leans toward his partner hips, constricting the arm that’s under attack, and making the leg he’s about to swing over a bit lighter and more mobile. As he clears the head with his foot, he places it low on his partner’s body, creating a wedge. This keeps his partner from easily rolling back to his back. With his feet planted firmly on the mat, Giles now begins to rotate his body. Lifting his hips slightly and keeping his feet in place, this rotation leads Giles to a seated position on the opposite side of where he started. He makes sure to bite hard once again with his heel to control the head and shoulders and sits back for the finish. Giles recommends landing at least 90 degrees to your opponent, as landing closer to the head than hips may get you in a bit of trouble when dealing with the efforts of escape from the bottom player. 

These are perfect entry level submission from the knee on belly position, and these are scenarios that present themselves quite frequently. As you’re passing around the guard, it’s a great idea to keep an eye out for that near side arm bar, as you will encounter that push from time to time. Be ready and sang that arm. 

As for the second variation, we now know that anytime someone pushes on our knee, there is probably an under hook available. Exploit this common knee push by attacking that far side arm. Worst case scenario, you secure an under hook and drop back down in to side mount with a great set of controls. 

I hope you enjoyed this little study of the arm bar from the knee on belly. It's always a pleasure to learn from Giles, as his instruction is incredibly detailed and the techniques are always applicable! Good luck!

Want more from Lachlan Giles? Check out his DVD  "The Half Guard Anthology", and get to work on improving your half guard! BJJ Fanatics has it! Check it out here!



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