We’ve talked a lot about armbar defense and bottom attack sequence. We’ll now be looking at the options you’ve got from top. In case you haven’t read the previous articles or are new when it comes to Jiu-Jitsu, the armbar is an arm-lock which uses wedges and leverage to extend and break the arm at the elbow joint. Once the arm is extended there’s very little that the attackee can do to defend even if there’s a 30 pound difference in weight.

Side Control

You’ve got side control. Arms are coming at you. Take them on home. If you’ve attacked any arms from bottom you’ll be seeing opportunities from top as well. They’ll be sticking out more anyway. All you’ve got to do is recognize your chance to take them. Because the person on bottom is looking to retain guard, at some point they’ll probably post behind and post on your shoulder. Break the post. Take the arm. That’s more of a flying variation however. Back to side control: any time you’re in side control you’ll have the option of taking either the far side or the near side arm. In both cases you’ll need to attach yourself to the arm and then move into position. We’ve recently published a video article on Demian Maia’s armbar from top. He attacks the far side arm. If interested look it up.

The near side arm is just as exposed. Optimally, you’d have trapped the arm between your ribs and thigh. That’ll kill any frames that your opponent might use to defend. Once you’ve isolated it like this either over-hook or cradle it the way you would a hunting gun. Put a butterfly hook under your opponent’s armpit and cross-face him with your other leg. You’ve got the near-side armbar. Perhaps it’s best that you don’t even fall-down into spider-web. Stay on top. Finish from top.


Your other essential option from top is attacking the armbar from the mount position. The mount puts a lot of pressure on your opponent. It’s not necessarily weight pressure. It’s just as much psychological as it’s physical. Odds are you’ve done a lot to pass before you got there. They’ll be feeling tired and possibly beaten. That’s your chance to take the arm. Traditionally, you’d go for a cross grip the way you would from closed guard. Grab the cross-tricep grip and use your other hand to post on the ground.

The next thing you need to worry about are your legs. For this to work, you’ll need to have isolated a shoulder, and the way you do that is by climbing into S mount. Use your post, the free hand, to take some weight of your knees. Don’t project all of it into the palm of your hand however. Use it to push into your opponent. Wipe your shins across the mat into S mount. Your cross-grip side knee aims towards your opponent while the other aims away from him. The soles of your feet shouldn’t be getting stuck under your opponent. If you’re feeling any pain or discomfort you’re probably doing something wrong. The one thing that your opponent could be doing to defend is framing with his elbows. This won’t work if you’ve got the cross-tricep grip. Use it to elevate their elbow so you can wedge your knee into their armpit. Climb into S mount. Finish from top.