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The Omoplata… What Are You Missing?

The Omoplata… What Are You Missing?



The omoplata has been about as illusive to me as a four-leaf clover. It seems like I’ve been able to acquire the position since the inception of my training, but the finish is incredibly rare. Many of us fall into the omoplata set up by accident as beginners. As an instructor I witness this all the time. So, what makes finishing the omoplata so difficult? 

When we attack the omoplata, the shoulder is obviously the focus, but are we focusing enough on the lower body portion of the submission? The omoplata results in a shoulder lock, but there are a great number of ways to screw it up in the process. 

There are practitioners that have made a career of the omoplata. BJJ players that have versed themselves in perfect mechanics to put the omoplata to work for them on a different level. These titans of the sport masterfully employ the omoplata as a means of tangling and ultimately finishing their opponents with this beautiful submission. 

So, what are we missing? Let’s query the board of some of the most successful omoplata attackers in BJJ. We’ll get some ideas on how to finish, some alternate finishes, and even a way to reverse, if we feel that’s the best course of action. 

We’ll start with some instruction from Sean Williams. Here, Williams will run us through a particular finish that he likes to employ. He’ll share some interesting details on how to bring this technique to fruition. Have a look!

This particular version of the finish deals with an incredibly common reaction to the omoplata. The roll. The roll may not be the most effective way to release your shoulder from an omoplata, but it may be the most common. It makes sense, as the roll will unwind the shoulder from the submission and possibly free the arm. 

Want to learn the COMPLETE Williams Guard? Click Learn More!!


Here, Williams has already acquired the submission and is upright with the shoulder trapped. Strapping a seat belt style grip around his partner’s upper body, Williams can finish the submission, but here he’s addressing a very common problem. The roll. 

As Williams’ partner begins to roll through, he follows closely, using the harness grip to stay tight to his partner. As the roll is completed, Williams ends up behind his partner with the arm still trapped. Here, Williams hip escapes, tightens his c clamp grip, and forms a triangle with his legs. All of these security checks keep his partners arm trapped and make escaping the position nearly impossible. Gently hip escaping here is all it takes to complete the sub. 

If his partner begins to drive his weight up on to Williams, Williams responds with an incredibly slick transition. As his partners body travels further up on to Williams’s body, Williams switches his grip to the opposite version of the c clamp. He then allows his partner to escape the arm that’s under attack, which gives up the omomplata, but lands Williams squarely in a head an arm choke scenario. Very slick!

The options don’t stop there. Depending on his partners reaction, Williams can also attack the back, or even a triangle. If the omomplata finish isn’t there, these are some fantastic options! Its great to have contingencies in place for common reactions and Williams has presented us with some excellent options here!

One of the most common positions to catch an omoplata from is the closed guard. Particularly the closed guard with an over hook. Check out this next variation of the omoplata with Tom DeBlass. He shows us exactly how to use the over hook in the pursuit of omoplata greatness! Take a look at this!

Starting out with an important concept of many closed guard attacks, DeBlass breaks his partner’s posture and rings him in close. As he hips out to the side, he adds another layer to the over hook by weaving his leg in to the mix also and locking his hands over his partners shoulder.  DeBlass begins with some preliminary attacks, including the wristlock, to get his partners attention, as well as a great reversal that he executes by pressuring in to this partners shoulder and causing him to go with the flow of the submission or be forced to tap. These are great options from here.

Touching on another very common problem with the omoplata, DeBlass demonstrates how our partners may try to foil our plans by not letting us remove that bottom leg. DeBlass advises us to pay no mind to these efforts and simply transition our attacking leg to the inside of the bottom leg, making a triangle configuration. It appears to be quite simple to do this and this could be another great detail in our quest for the roper finish.

Addressing the issue of the roll, DeBlass chooses to go after the finish a bit differently than some. As he begins to scoot out, he plants his near hand behind him on the floor and reaches over the top of his partner’s hip with his opposite arm. He then posts his outside leg and begins to elevate his hips and turn in to his partner at the same time causing the tap. DeBlass cites his knee issues as one of the reasons that he chooses to finish this way. I’d say whether you have knee issues or not, this is an incredibly effective option for finishing. Great technique here from one of the world’s best. 

Let’s finish up with a great technique from Thomas Lisboa. Here he shows us a great entry in to the omoplata and how to attack the submission without breaking any grips. Have a look!

Making sure to reach over his partners arm, in order to not get his hand pinned while he begins to work, Lisboa acquires a cross grip on his partners sleeve. He couples this grip with an under hook of the leg on the same side. Here, he begins to rock his leg, turning his body 180 degrees and traveling in to the omomplata set up position. Here, Lisboa brings his knees up to his chest, releasing some of the pressure on the shoulder, so that he can pass his sleeve grip to the hand that’s under the leg. Once he’s made this connection, Lisboa puts the pressure back on to this partners shoulder. He then swings his free leg to create some momentum and kicks it forward underneath his partner to easily reverse him. After the reversal is completed, Lisboa warns us to be weary of the under hook. As he turns his hips and begins to settle in, he beats his partner to the under hook and then settles in to a standard side control configuration.

The omoplata is an incredibly versatile submission, and should be treated as its own position. The position itself is a hub from which we can launch a plethora of different attacks, reversal, and transitions. Study the omoplata and the intricacies of the finish and then pad the technique with loads of options. This will make the omoplata a useful, dangerous, and highly effective part of your game! Good luck! 


Closed Guard Beyond The Basics by Thomas Lisboa

Closed Guard Beyond The Basics By Thomas Lisboa will give you the tools to have an AGGRESSIVE and EFFECTIVE Closed Guard. Lisboa’s newest instructional is an all encompassing breakdown of the Closed Guard. Get an in-depth look at all of the Sweeps, Submissions, and Transitions that go BEYOND THE BASICS!



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