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Submission Series: Armbar

Submission Series: Armbar



Learning precise finishing details early on in your grappling career will pay dividends later, in the training room and on the competition mats. You will have more confidence in going for the finish and a deeper mechanical understanding. This series will examine what makes each submission work every time.

One of the most frustrating things I’ve experienced in rolling is getting someone dead to rights in an armbar position and being unable to break their grip. Just sitting their pulling on their arm until I lose the position. 

This is situation comes a lot after tipping someone over from guard or dropping back from mount to go for the armbar. The grip is the last line of defense to overcome for the submission. This is also a must have skill for competing at events with an EBI style overtime system, where this is one of the starting positions that can be chosen.

Travis Stevens is a jiujitsu black belt and a silver Olympic medalist in judo. He has specialized in groundwork in judo, and time constraints make quick and lethal finishes a must have. 


The first detail is arm placement. Instead of going elbow pit on elbow pit, Travis clamps his arm around his opponent’s forearm. If the arm is a lever, force applied towards the end of it will have more effect then if applied in the middle. In this case the end of level is the opponent’s hand.

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Next, He stuffs the elbow into his hip on the side going towards his opponent’s legs. His wrapping arm pulls his opponent’s arm tight to his chest. This creates almost an Americana like crank on the shoulder. This is an extra layer of torque will make it hard them psychologically and physically to keep that grip. 

Now instead of pulling the arm straight backwards like most people are originally taught, Travis falls towards his partner’s head. This pulls the arm at an angle that it is weak against, taking away a lot of the muscle power that could hold the grips in place. This torque from the angles along with a finishing leg press should shatter the grip.

With the grip broken, the next part is to finish the submission. Many people lose the armbar trying to get the hand positioning correct. They lose the hand entirely the opponent either hitch hiker escapes away or regrips. Either way, unacceptable after having gotten this far. 

So instead of letting go and trying to grab at the hand, Travis keeps the wrapping arm tight and slides it up the arm. He grabs his own lapel (in nogi you can grab the trap muscle) and slides it up until it’s pinched around the hand. If further control is needed, he can bring his free hand into grab it and point the thumb. 

Fundamentals note: the elbow and thumb move the same way. So twisting the defender’s hand until the their thumb is point in the same direction as the breaking force will make sure that the elbow is correctly placed. 

Well doing all this, Travis keeps his tall and straight. This creates a pull on the arm and that pull  moves all the way down, taking all the slack out of the elbow and shoulder joints. Have the elbow joint already elongated will mean that it requires much less hip pressure to finish later. Travis thinks about keeping the hand pinned high on his shoulder well keeping his back straight to achieve this. 

As you can see in the video, his partner taps before Travis even starts to hip up. As a final detail, Travis lines to the elbow up against his left hip so that even as the defender tries to escape he can keep applying pressure.

Scientific Gripping Systems For Jiu Jitsu by Travis Stevens

Gripping can MAKE or BREAK you. Travis Stevens has a Scientific approach to Gripping that can totally revitalize your game. Win the first exchange by Winning the Grip Battle! With Scientific Gripping Gripping Systems For Jiu-Jitsu By Travis Stevens You’ll Gripping like a champ in NO TIME!



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