Counter Armbar

I know I wouldnt want to be caught in a Carlos Newton armbar

I know I wouldnt want to be caught in a Carlos Newton armbar

The arm bar is an extremely versatile submission in general. There are variations of it that can  be performed from a host of different positions. In general the arm bar gains its notoriety from really just how simple it is. In a fight, especially mixed martial arts, you are constantly using your arms to try and attack your opponent. This means that there is a lot of time when a fighter is focused on using his arms to attack and not deffending them, the perfect time to sneak in for an arm bar. 

This particular arm bar setup was used by Carlos Newton in a  fight against Kazuhiro Kusayanagi. He finds himself on top in a side control position and is immediately being hit with a Kimura attempt. Instead of letting the opponent finish what he started Newton, looking completely calm and under control, quickly made his opponent pay for this.

The Setup

The setup for this specific arm bar is very unique and pointed towards a specific situation. First though is that you are in side control position on your opponent. Once in this side control we are going to assume that the opponent is a Kimura lover and goes in for his submission attempt.

The Kimura is a shoulder lock submission that can be equally as quick as an arm bar if you get sloppy with your appendages. From the side control position your opponent will need to bring your arm up and over your back though which is not always very easy to do. This small gap of time in between when he isolates your arm and when he completes the submission is your time to strike, don’t be late though.

The Counter

The beginning is the do or die situation in the technique. submit or be submitted. To reverse this kimura and bring the hurt to your opponent is technically not very hard but practically not nearly as easy to finish as Carlos Newton makes it look.

First DO NOT let yourself get submitted. Next, your free hand is planted on the opponent’s hip and used as a pivot point as well as a means to separate yourself from your opponent’s body. From here speed and precision of movement are key to switching your position successfully for the finish.

To complete the arm bar you need to be on the other side of your opponent. To do this you walk your hips around on the head side of your opponent. The center of your hips should end up right behind the shoulder of the opponent. One leg is placed over the opponent’s head/neck to keep in pinned down against the mat. The other leg is left bent with the foot/shin pressing into the opponent’s side and up under his armpit.

From here all that is left to do is hold the arm to the body and raise the hips up to finish the submission.

Intangible Factor

There is certainly an intangibility factor to completing this submission. You could look at it and drill it until the cows come home. During a real match anything is possible and this move has a lot of variables and moving around. Also this is a counter move so by nature there is risk involved, for example if you mess up and the opponent simply finished  his submission. If you are going to attempt this move it needs to be done quickly, powerfully, precisely, and with confidence to finish successfully.

Here is a video with a technical explanation of this techique



Armbar From Behind

When engaged with an opponent, the back mount position will always provide security and dominance in the fight. the opponent has not real offensive options and can only try to avoid submissions and strikes or try to slip through your grasp. This armbar setup can be good during either one of these situations. It is a quick and powerful submission that can surprise the opponent from the back mount.

This armbar set-up was seen in the Palhares Vs. Salaverry fight where Palhares caught his opponent in this submission with, what apeared to be, flawless technique. He makes it look easy in the video below but this is a more advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu move that takes much practice to use in a real match. With that said HERE is a link to a page with some information of the back mount position in general.

Setting Up the Armbar

Of course to start this submission you must first choose an arm to attack, for clarity’s sake lets say you decide to attack the opponent’s left arm. From a good back mount your left arm should be under the opponent’s left and your right arm should be over his right shoulder locking the opponent in position.

Now the right arm is removed and put on the left side of the opponent’s head and takes control of the opponent’s left wrist. Your left arm now reaches up from underneath the opponent’s arm, grabbing your wrist. This completes a Kimura grip, giving you control of the opponent’s arm.

To complete the submission your body needs to shift to the side of the arm that is being attacked so that the whole body can put force on it. To do this your legs need to shift first. The leg on the side of the arm that is being attacked is passed across the opponent’s waist. The other leg is swung behind the opponent, over his head, and placed across his chest to secure him.

The Finish

Finishing this submission is a piece of cake once you get the opponent on his back, it is getting him there successfully that is the challenge. To complete this submission there is a lot of shitting of position happening. Experience in BJJ and the back mount position help with that exponentially because of the sly and speedy change of position needed to avoid a counter.

The time where you shift from his back to the final armbar position is when your opponent is most likely to weasel his way out of the submission attempt. To avoid this speed can make the opponent not realize what happening until its too late if he is not very experienced. Also The leg that is placed across his chest needs to be placed there and stamped down with force to secure the opponent. By using this leg to pin the opponent to the ground it eliminates the possibility of him rolling into you to avoid the submission.

From here  the legs hold the opponents upper body to the ground while your arms hold his arm to your chest/upper body. The hips are raised up hyper extending the elbow and causing excruciating pain.

Below is a video explaining the technique from start to finish.

The Armbar

A submission one sees a lot of in professional fighting is the armbar. This move is very simple by design which makes ease of use a large factor in its popularity among all types of fighters. This move also has many variations in setup which makes it a threat from many different positions. In addition to that it has both offensive and defensive variations which make it and even broader threat.

There are many subtle differences between the types of armbars but they all have the same basic finish. The move is performed by putting both feet across the opponent’s chest with one arm between your legs. The trapped arm is then held at the elbow joint with your arms. then pressure is applied by rolling the hips up and pulling back on the arm.

Offensive Aspect

This move can be used in many ways as a strictly offensive move. For example Its use from the mount or knee-on-belly position is a very hard move to defend against. The attacker has a full range of motion and has the leverage of his whole body at his disposal. Also because of the increased amount of control when on top it makes setting up this move easier as well.

Another derivation of the move that is rarely seen but would surely surprise an opponent is the flying armbar. This move is executed from the standing clinch position where the opponent is expecting strikes or some sort of take down, not a submission. If landed successfully fast and unexpected type of armbar is sure to end a fight quickly.

Deffensive Aspect

One of the most commonly used variations of the armbar is used when in the guard position. Its set up is straightforward and easy to complete. Also once comfortable with the move it can be locked in very fast. This makes its use as a counter move a very real threat. This is true especially in mixed martial arts where mounted opponents use strikes a lot which opens up arms for attack

Also this move can be used when in bottom sidemount position. From a sidemount the armbar requires a little more strength and flexibility to complete. This could also surprise an opponent with a quick submission because many people feel very comfortable on top in sidemount position.

Lastly a variation of the armbar from the half guard position can be used to overpower an opponent. This move is a more complex setup and finish which requires some finesse, so it is a more advanced move. However it is just one more of the positions an armbar canb be successfully landed from.

The Veteran’s Move

The armbar is probably one of if not the first moves that people learn as they enter the world of mixed marital arts and has probably been tried by people with no training. This does lead to a host of counter moves and defensses against the move as well. However an experienced grappler who practices this move can use this move very effectively because of its versatility and speed.

Ronda Rousey bends Meisha Tate’s arm the complete opposite way

The armbar is also a very dangerous move. With an experienced user and enough pressure an armbar can rip the tendons and ligaments of the elbow or even break the bones of the arm.