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Mastering the Arm Bar and the Triangle Choke

Mastering the Arm Bar and the Triangle Choke


The arm bar and the triangle are some of the most versatile submissions.  They have long been considered traditional submissions and they have long been taught as fundamentals of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  There is a reason for this, they are extremely versatile submissions.  They are effective and can be utilized from so many positions.

The triangle choke has long been one of the best submissions in Brazilian jiu jitsu.  What makes the triangle such a powerful attack?  The triangle is one of the most versatile submissions in bjj. You can use it in gi, no gi, and MMA.  Like the arm bar it is one of the oldest submissions, and it is tried and true. The triangle can be used from guard, while passing or standing, and once you’ve passed.  There are triangle entries and set ups from virtually everywhere, the position is also good to set up other attacks. You can use the triangle to set up kimuras, omoplatas, arm bars, and more.

The arm bar is one of the most versatile submissions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as well.  The arm bar is also one of the first submissions that you will ever learn and one of the last that you will master (if you ever do).  This is an excellent submission because it is available from a wide variety of positions, and it works extremely well in gi, nogi, and MMA much like the triangle. The arm bar is one of the oldest submissions there is and has roots that date back hundreds of years.  It is one of the fundamental submissions of bjj and one of the best.  Why is the arm bar so versatile in bjj?  You can use it from a number of guards, you can use it in transition while passing, and you can use it from several positions once you’ve passed your opponents guard. 

The Triangle from Guard, Standing/Passing, and once you have passed

The triangle is an excellent weapon from guard.  You can set triangles up from virtually every single guard.  There are triangle entries from closed guard, half guard, spider guard, De La Riva, X-guard, and so much other guards.  We are not going to name every guard. The triangle is so dangerous because of the control you have and the ability to surprise your opponent with triangles.  The reverse triangle is an extremely sneaky variation of the triangle.  Check out this basic triangle set up from guard below.

The triangle is also a great attack while in transition.  You can jump to triangles while passing your opponents guards and they may never see it coming.  When your opponent is playing butterfly guard, they often have one hand on the mat and one on your collar; this is the perfect time to jump a triangle. The triangle from standing is another surprising but effective attack.  Black Belt Edwin Najmi is infamous for landing over twenty flying triangles in competition.  This is one of the best moves when executed properly.  The element of surprise is always a good tactic and utilizing the flying triangle is one of the best ways to surprise your opponent.  Check out this highlight below of Edwin Najmi executing several flying triangle, it is truly unbelievable.

Once you’ve passed your opponents guard you don’t just want to pin them, you want to start attacking submissions.  One of the best submissions you can attack once passed is the triangle.  There are triangle opportunities from side control, knee on belly, mount, and from the back. One of the best attacks in full mount is the triangle.  The mounted triangle is a devastating attack in bjj and especially MMA.  If you manage to get your opponent in the mounted triangle in MMA it is an excellent position for ground and pound.  

If you want to work on your triangle from guard, check out Bernardo Faria’s 4 DVD set “The Closed Guard.” Bernardo has an excellent closed guard and has very sneak and effective triangle entries.

The Arm Bar Versatility

The arm bar is one of the best submissions that you can learn from guard.  This is because you can utilize it from several different guards.  Almost every guard has excellent arm bar set ups.  You can use the arm bar from closed guard, De La riva, spider guard, lasso guard, reverse De La Riva, half guard, and butterfly.  Knowing the arm bar is extremely important, If you perfect the mechanics of finishing the arm bar it will make you extremely dangerous.  Getting your opponent into the arm bar is the hard part; once you get there the finish is not very difficult.  The arm bar has proven its effectiveness time and time again against the best in the world.  Bernardo Faria infamously submitted Leandro Lo with an arm bar and Rafa Mendes submitted Cobrihna with an arm bar. You just have to learn the entries and set up form different guards and you will become extremely dangerous.

The arm bar is an excellent submission while passing your opponents guard.  Many times when passing the guard, people will extend their arms before you can solidify the pass, this gives you the opportunity to arm bar them.  Rafa Mendes famously arm barred Cobrihna in transition. The arm bar can be an excellent surprise attack to your opponent.  Before you establish a pass, there is a three second window where many people will flail and extend their arms to stop the pass.  While these micro transitions are occurring you can surprise your opponent by falling to an arm bar. Check out Rafa’s arm bar on cobrihna below! It starts at 4:14.

Once you’ve passed your opponents guard, you will have the opportunity to set up many different arm bars.  You can set up arm bars from mount, side control, knee on belly, north south, and from the back.  There is not one position you can’t set and arm bar up from.  My old coach once told me you could teach an entire martial art on just the arm bar.  The arm bar can be used from so many positions, it is virtually impossible to learn every different arm bar set up, but be aware that once you’ve passed your opponents guard, the arm bar is everywhere. Check out this arm bar set up from Marcelo Garcia instructor and black belt, Paul Schreiner below.

If you want to add and refine your arm bar finish and entries, check out 5x Black Belt World Champion, Bernardo Faria’s DVD set “High Percentage Submissions.”  He goes into great detail on the arm bar and many other submissions. If you want to make your game more complete, check out our article “a Complete BJJ Game.”


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