The High Guard Armbar
Trap The Arm. And Get The Submission!
The classic arm bar is a thing of beauty because it can be an equalizer from the bottom. As time goes on in your BJJ journey people will adjust to your basic arm bar. This includes specific posture, fighting grips, and at times avoiding the closed guard at all costs.
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To catch an arm lock from the guard we must vary attacks and sometimes rely on counters. A common approach for the guard passer that is stuck in closed guard is to establish bicep control and begin to stand. Typically, the passer will stagger their feet somewhat and begin driving the forward knee in between the position.
Here Mario Delgado demonstrates a simple way to apply the arm bar while the passer goes through his usual progression. As the passer stands notice that Mario immediately climbs his legs up to a higher position. This changes the angle of your guard which makes the staggered knee forward of the passer much less effective. Once Mario has climbed his legs up he re-closes them and looks for the attack.
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From here it is either sweep or submit. These double sided attacks are a smart strategy because the defense of one will lead to an undefended attack from the other. As the passer starts to apply pressure Mario springs into action. Both arms have a specific job. Mario uses an overhand grip right at the passer’s elbow while the other arm is swimming to the opposite leg knuckles first. By leading with his knuckles first Mario is able to articulate his hand around the opponent’s legs creating a deep hook that spins his body underneath of his opponent.
Finishing this arm bar involves a key detail that is commonly untaught. Thankfully Mario has our backs and shows us the key detail which is the inversion. He simply goes from one side of his head to the other ensuring that the arm bar stays tight and makes the opponent have forward facing momentum. This forward facing momentum does two things. First, it makes the passer feel like they are losing their balance for the sweep. Secondly, it spins the attacked arm underneath of the opponent which makes it very difficult to slip the arm from Mario’s grasp.