The flying armbar has a few key aspects that determine its success. Many of the same fundamentals that you will see in an armbar from guard remain true in a flying armbar. However, gravity and dexterity will be two extra components to contend with.
Flying Armbar Technique
Whether in a gi or no-gi, you will want to establish strong grips to ensure you will not just drop on your head in the transition. If you are accustomed to jumping guard, you will now want to pivot your hips to one side as you jump.
Your bottom leg should remain flush against the body to give you something to anchor against. Your top leg will be depending on the angle you created to make it over the head.
The force of the jump may pull them to the ground, or you may have to finish the armbar as you are still hanging in the air. Proper grips will help you slow your descent and offer you more control during the technique.
Here are five videos to help you tighten your flying armbar technique, no matter the scenario:
1. Flying Armbar With the Gi
In this video, we see the main consideration for the flying armbar will be interacting with the gi. Fortunately, the lapel and sleeve grips will provide greater grip security than a sweaty opponent in no-gi would.
We can see that Angie is applying a lapel and sleeve grip that she will use to off-balance her opponent. Angie takes advantage of the footing and steps out to the side of the arm she is attacking to set up her angled jump entry.
As she jumps, Angie brings her hips as close to the armpit of the arm she is attacking and swings her top leg over. You can use the leg placement to sweep your opponent into a mounted armbar if they are still standing after the jump.
2. Standing Sweep With a Grounded Armbar Finish
Here, we see a unique standing sweep that finishes with a grounded armbar from Elliott Bayev. The technique begins with an arm drag and quickly transitions to jumping guard, while the arm is still trapped by the initial drag.
While hanging from your opponent, your free arm will reach behind to grab the neck, or across the back to the armpit. With your grips secure, the hand that is maintaining the arm drag position will now reach behind your opponent’s close leg.
As you hang your weight lower to try this, your partner’s posture will be broken, resulting in a sweep. Now, you should be in a mounted armbar position. However, since you maintained the arm drag position your partner’s arm will be tucked behind your armpit in what Elliott calls the “Super Armbar” position.
3. Flying Armbar Without the GI
In this video, we see a similar approach to the flying armbar as in the first video. However, now we have to consider the transition without the aid of gi grips. Fortunately, we do not lose the grips as much as we adjust them.
Rather than the sleeve grip, the demonstrator uses the bend in his partner’s elbow to plant his grip. Additionally, a collar tie on the neck will replace the lapel grip. The rest of the technique, including the hip turning motion, will remain the same.
4. Drill Oriented Approach to the Flying Armbar
What we see demonstrated above is a slower, more drill oriented approach to the flying armbar. While the finish and much of the setup is the same as what we have learned up until this point, now we see a practical way to train up to the flying armbar.
Keith Owen shows a few training wheels we can give our partner as they attempt the technique. As your partner sets up their grips for the attack, grip them back so you are able to provide extra support in case they fail.
Next, it would not be a flying armbar if you couldn’t jump. Keith demonstrates a few ways you can learn how to fly in small steps. Begin lifting your leg and allow your partner to grab it midair. This will help you feel more limber and determine proper placement.
After a few reps of the leg lift, try a few guard jumps. Again, this allows us to loosen ourselves up but also ensures we can hoist ourselves high enough for the following technique. Once you are comfortable with those techniques, string them together for the flying armbar. Be sure to keep the training wheels on for the first few attempts.
5. MMA as Reference Point of Flying Armbar
Lastly, Firas Zahabi combines several key considerations for an in-depth breakdown of the flying armbar. Firas is approaching the flying armbar in no-gi and uses MMA as a reference point. However, he still takes time to break down the technique into smaller, drill friendly steps.
As with previous videos, Firas adjusts his grips to accommodate no-gi practice, while also making sure his partner is assisting him as he throws the flying armbar. Additionally, Firas also introduces the “bent leg” or “open guard” variation. He claims that this variation does not require as much jumping power, but also grants more speed to the finish.
The flying armbar is a great technique when practiced and executed properly. It’s flashy and can finish a match quickly. But, it can also end badly. Nothing is more tragic than that new blue belt shouting “Hey, watch this,” just before face-planting on the mat trying to fly. Hopefully, these videos will help you and your training partners avoid that fate.