How to do the Armbar Without Crushing Your Balls

How to prevent your balls from getting crushed during the armbar

It's a question that I get from BJJ beginners all the time, "How do I do the armbar without crushing my balls in the process?" And it's a legitimate problem for people starting out their BJJ career.  In fact, it's a simple equation... Elbow + Groin = OUCH!! Now you could wear a cup, but most intermediate and advanced players don't do that unless they're training for MMA. Instead of … [Read more...]

Top 3 Armbar Mistakes in BJJ

Top 3 Armbar Errors in BJJ

The basic armbar is one of those bread-and-butter submission techniques in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. You just can't do BJJ without it, so it's SUPER important to understand this submission inside out! But I see people make the same silly errors for the armbar all the time. That's why I shot a quick and dirty video showing the three most common mistakes for the armbar (plus how to fix … [Read more...]

Don’t Overthink Jiu-Jitsu

armbar in progress

Back when I was a brown belt I rolled with a large, strong, aggressive and completely unskilled white belt. This white belt was absolutely determined to illustrate the size difference between us by using all his weight and all his strength at all times. You know the type... At one point he was in my guard with his forearm across my throat. Essentially he was giving me the classic trigger … [Read more...]

New T-Shirts: Keep Calm and Grapple On

Keep Calm and Armbar On shirts

We just released these brand new shirts.  I had fun looking into the history of the classic 'Keep Calm and Carry On' meme - turns out it comes from just before World War 2 where the British government was trying to bolster the public morale in the face of imminent war. They might boost your morale too, but hopefully your situation is a little bit less dire than Europe in 1939... There are … [Read more...]

The 16 Most Important Techniques for the BJJ Beginner

16 BJJ Beginner Techniques

What's the most common problem (aside from getting caught under side control) facing the BJJ beginner? It's probably feeling overwhelmed by the staggering number of techniques that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu contains! There are a thousand variations of sweeps and locks and chokes and pins and escapes and guard passes.  It's enough to make your head spin! So where then do you start?  Which … [Read more...]

A Better Armbar?

Another armbar using both hands, this time in MMA

The armbar, as it is usually taught, involves using BOTH of your hands or arms to control ONE of your opponent's arms. This two-on-one control can be used when trying to break through your opponent's defenses, as in the photo below: The two-on-one arm control is usually retained right until your opponent taps out to the finalized armbar, as in the following photo: Now this regular … [Read more...]

Flying Armbar Guard Pull

flying armbar guard pull

Some people will tell you never, ever to pull guard. "Fight from the top," they tell you... In general that's good advice, but what if you run into someone with vastly superior takedown skills? Or someone who is good at defending takedowns and determined to fight a completely defensive battle? It's good to have some takedowns in your arsenal. But it's also good to have some other ways to get … [Read more...]

Some Tweaks for Tightening the Armbar from Closed Guard


Chances are that the armbar from guard is one of the first techniques you ever learned in BJJ. In fact the closed guard armbar is one of those fundamental techniques that results in submissions every day at every BJJ school in the world (in fact it's the fifth most popular submission in a poll of 533 Grapplearts readers). But just because you learned it early in your career, and just because … [Read more...]

Joao Miyao teaching the Ninja Armlock from Berimbolo

Joao Miyao teaching the Ninja Armlock from Berimbolo

Here's some seriously advanced stuff for you: renowned black belt competitor Joao Miyao breaking down the Ninja Armlock from Berimbolo. In the exclusive Grapplearts Field Reports Video Miyao uses his bread and butter move - the Berimbolo sweep - from the leg lasso position to spin into an unexpected and hard to defend armbar. … [Read more...]

The Easiest Way to Teach (and Learn) the Armbar from Guard

Teaching the armbar from guard

The armbar from guard is one of those bread-and-butter techniques in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. A signature move, if you will. Unfortunately it can also be difficult for some people execute the mechanics of the armbar from the guard correctly. It's easy to get confused with all that gripping, shifting, adjusting and swivelling, and then completely botch the whole technique. But I've found a … [Read more...]

A Sneaky Armbar Escape

sneaky armbar escape

The armbar escape in the video below is one of my favourite armbar defenses. I like it because it's simple and effective against a wide variety of grapplers, but also because of the reaction it gets from people who were oh-so-close to armbarring you. They'll either laugh or swear out loud after you get out; either reaction is pretty gratifying! … [Read more...]

How to Defeat The Judo-Style Rolling Armbar

Travis Stevens and Jimmy Pedro on Defeating Ronda Rousey's Armbar

Love her or hate her, Ronda Rousey is an armbar machine.  At UFC 168 she defeated Meisha Tate with her eighth armbar in eight MMA fights.  This armbar streak is an amazing achievement, and a lot of people (including a lot of people who don't actually train) have been asking me how to counter this attack. I was thinking about doing this but it turns out that someone beat me to it. … [Read more...]

Keenan Cornelius’s Inverted Spinning Armbar Explained…

Keenan Cornelius Lucas Leite armbar 2013 BJJ expo

In the No Gi super fight at the 2013 BJJ Expo between Keenan Cornelius and Lucas Leite there was an absolutely spectacular submission. Keenan hit an inverted spinning armbar from half guard that impressed the hell out of everyone who saw it. First, here's the match itself. The armbar sequence starts at about 8:01. … [Read more...]

Jiu-Jitsu for the Zombie Apocalypse

Zombie Apocalypse Weapons1

I've just put the most important video I've ever shot onto Youtube: Jiu-Jitsu for the Zombie Apocalypse. A lot of people will tell you that jiu-jitsu will be useless when the Zombie Apocalypse hits.  But those people have an agenda: usually they're trying to sell you flamethrowers, or have stocks in the big arms companies. … [Read more...]

Tap Out Less Often! The ‘Submission Defense’ App for Android…

submission defense blog

After a ton of planning and working with video editors and Android app programers, I'm thrilled to announce that Submission Defense - the latest Grapplearts app for the Android platform - is finally ready!! This app was designed with one single-minded purpose: to help you tap out much less often. … [Read more...]

The Armbar from Fifty-Fifty Guard by Keenan Cornelius

Keenan Cornelius demonstrates the armbar from fifty fifty guard

The fifty-fifty guard is a strange creature. In it you and your opponent face each other in the exact same position with your legs intertwined. On the one hand there's no doubt that it's a really powerful sweeping position for whoever's on bottom. But on the other hand it has a reputation as a really horrible way to stall. … [Read more...]

How to Defend and Escape the Armbar from Guard

Armbar from Closed Guard Defense

If you've been grappling for any length of time then you know that anytime you're in the closed guard you've got to watch out for the armbar from guard. It's one of the most common and highest percentage submissions in all of BJJ, submission grappling and MMA. So if we're going to be running into a technique like the armbar from guard this frequently then we HAVE to have some good answers for … [Read more...]

The Easiest Triangle Choke Followup

Tapping out from Triangle Choke

One of my newsletter readers recently had an interesting question for me: Q: "Hi Stephan,  I have this training partner with a huge neck who is incredibly resistant to chokes.  Everybody in class has problems choking him.  The problem is that my favorite submission is the triangle choke - what's a simple way to finish the choke on someone like that?  Thanks - Dave from England." … [Read more...]

Ronda Rousey and the Power of Gameplans

UFC Belt

In case you were hiding under a rock, Ronda Rousey fought Liz Carmouche last night at UFC 157. She both validated her UFC Women's Bantamweight title, and made history by being in the first-ever women's match in the the UFC. And just in case you were under that aforementioned rock, despite a very spirited fight by Liz Carmouche, Ronda won the match with an armbar at 4:49 of the first round. … [Read more...]