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Mastering Versatile Submissions

Mastering Versatile Submissions


We all know that guy who is good at just one particular submission, but he is the best at it.  The guy that can arm bar you from anywhere, top or bottom, the guy that can triangle you from everywhere, mastering one submission and learning how to implement it from multiple positions is an excellent strategy for progression in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Some people get so good at something that no matter who they go against, they can probably hit their move. 

For instance, the Danaher Death Squad members, Garry Tonon, Eddie Cumming, and Gordon Ryan are all infamous for their expertise in finishing heel hooks.  They have mastered this submission and they can achieve the position and finish against virtually anyone.  Marcelo Garcia was infamous for his high elbow guillotine.  Although this was not his only weapon, it was a versatile submission that he was able to get on so many people from so many different positions.

So what are some versatile submissions that can be good to add to your arsenal of attacks?  Well, there are so many different submissions and it depends whether you do gi, nogi, or both.  A couple great options that work in gi and nogi are the arm bar, and the triangle.  These are excellent submission options that can be executed from so many different positions whether it is on bottom or top! Another great option is the cross choke, given you are rolling in a gi.  These three submissions are excellent options for somebody who wants to master something versatile.

Arm Bar Versatility

The arm bar is one of the most versatile submissions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  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.

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. We wrote an entire article on the “Arm Bar Versatility” check it out.

You can use the arm bar from guard, and not just one guard, but several.  There are arm bar set ups from closed guard, half guard, butterfly guard, De La Riva guard, spider guard, Lasso Guard, Reverse De La Riva Guard, and pretty much any guard you can play.  This is why mastering the intricacies of finishing an arm bar is an excellent option.  You can develop a lethal weapon that can be used from a number of positions, if you get good at finishing an arm bar than you can learn different set ups from different guards and be able to find this position from everywhere.  Check out this arm bar from closed guard with Dan Covel below.

The arm bar can also be executed just as effectively from numerous positions on top. You can successfully complete an arm bar from side mount, full mount, knee on belly, north south, back mount, knee slice, quarter guard (top), leg drag, and in several different passing transitions.  With so many different positions that you can arm bar from, how can anybody learn all of the possible set ups to arm bar your opponent? You can’t.

You can’t learn every set up that there is to learn but you can learn how to finish the arm bar and get into the habit of seeing it.  If you just do the arm bar all of the time, it will begin to present itself you from various positions, for instance, if someone is positing in a transitional period where you have almost solidified a pass, you may be able to jump an arm bar.  Much like Davi Ramos when he executed in arm bar in the finals of the ADCC in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2015 against Lucas Lepri.  Check out this clip below of Davi Ramos hitting this arm bar against black belt World champion, Lucas Lepri below.

The arm bar that you see above is a very quick and athletic move that takes timing and tenacity.  There are other arm bar set ups once you have passed the guard that is much slower and more methodical.  Check out this awesome arm bar set up from the north south position with Marcelo Garcia Black Belt and world famous instructor, Paul Schreiner.

The Triangle Choke Versatility

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. 

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 triangle can be set up from almost any guard just like the arm bar.  You can find triangle entries from closed guard, half guard, butterfly guard, spider guard, de la riva, and virtually any guard.  This is why mastering a good triangle is always a great option.  This is one of the most versatile submissions and it can be used from anywhere.  Once you learn how to finish and look for triangle from guard, it will present itself to you. 

Contrary to popular belief, the triangle choke can be used from the top position just as much as any other submission.  The set ups may be a little bit more complex, but it is extremely effective.  There are plenty of triangle set ups from side mount, knee on belly, back mount, full mount, and in transition while passing.  Check out this awesome triangle set up from the American Legend Rafael Lovato Jr where he shows how to execute the triangle from side mount.

The Cross Choke Versatility

The cross choke is one of the most powerful chokes in the gi.  It utilizes both collars and is one of the first chokes many people learn.  The cross choke is also one of the hardest chokes to master.  One of the best characteristics of the cross choke is that it is extremely versatile.  You can use the cross choke from so many different places.

The cross choke is definitely worth learning because it works from bottom in several places and from top.  You can use it from half guard and full guard on bottom and you can use it from top side, mount, knee slice, top half, and knee on belly.  This is one of the simplest chokes to apply and if you take the time to learn all the finishing touches, you will not regret it. 

The cross choke is an excellent choke from the bottom in the more traditional positions like half guard and full guard, you can set up cross choke from other guard but you need to close the distance so much when executing .  This choke is an excellent option from the top.  You can use it effectively from any position once you have passed the guard and from positions prior to passing.  For example, if you are on top half guard you can apply the cross choke, and if you are in a knee slice or quarter guard passing position it is always feasible to apply a cross choke.  Check out this video below of Rickson Gracie Black Belt, Luis Heredia showing an amazing cross choke from Closed Guard.

If you want to learn some extremely effective and old school submissions, check out Luis Heredia’s 4 DVD Set, “Pure Jiu Jitsu.”  Luis Heredia is an old school bad ass, he is a Rickson Gracie black belt and Rickson Gracie refers to Luis as his “hitman.”  This is because when people would come to challenge Rickson he would tell them only if they beat Luis… no one ever did.  Luis is an amazing instructor and has an incredible depth of knowledge.


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