There are few quicker ways to making to the competition highlight reel than a flying submission! These fast and flashy submissions are exciting to watch and can take even high-level opponents by surprise.
However, any time you launch yourself into the air you have to realize that sticking the landing is essential! A failed flying submission can easily lead to you injuring yourself or your partner. With that said, lets explore how to safely learn how to perform these spectacular looking submissions.
Safely Training Flying Submissions
When you’re first learning flying submissions its easy to think that you must launch yourself into the air, grab hold of an arm or neck, and then safely return to earth. This is, after all, what these submissions look like – and we do call them flying submissions! However, the reality is slightly more grounded.
Flying submissions are more accurately described as rapidly climbing up your opponent and then looking to use your weight to pull them down. Done quickly, this seems like flying, but is both safer and more reliable than actually throwing yourself in the air.
Which Submissions Really Soar
Only a few submissions really lend themselves to aerial application. Classically the flying triangle and flying armbar are the two that you’ll see performed successfully, although the guillotine and kimura occasionally get the airborne treatment.
Today we’ll focus on the triangle and armbar – but once you’ve mastered these two the sky’s the limit.
Aerial Geometry: Flying Triangles
While some moves only require a few reps before you’ll be able to make an attempt during live rolls, flying submissions should be receive careful study before trying them live. As the saying goes, “don’t practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong.”
Some people advocate for practicing the flying triangle against a kneeling partner first, working your way up to a standing partner. However, reputable instructors like Jon Thomas and Kent Peters both advocate for practicing from standing. The key is to have a partner who is both capable of and ready to hold your weight as you land.
Jon Thomas emphasizes that your focus is not on latching your legs together, but should instead be on ensuring your top leg hooks solidly over their shoulder. Even without securing your triangle you should be capable of holding yourself off the ground.
Kent Peters of Zombie Proof BJJ offers a similar demonstration, although his focus is slightly different. He stresses that you need to launch your hips forwards and upwards. This allows you to accomplish the leg hook that Jon Thomas prioritizes.
Keep both of these details in mind when you’re drilling this technique. Make sure to find a suitably sized partner to ensure that you don’t accidentally pull them on top of you! If you have access to crash pads, this might be a good time to pull them out of the corner they typically sit collecting dust in and put them to good use!
Armbars Falling From the Sky – The Flying Armbar
Arguably, the flying armbar is one of the most dangerous moves out there. It goes without saying that you need to exercise extreme caution both when practicing this technique and when attempting in competition. However, BJJ is a combat sport and we don’t typically shy away from danger. Instead we address dangerous situations with information, awareness, and deliberate practice.
Grips are an essential part of any armbar, but this applies even more so for the flying armbar. One grip goes on the collar, or behind the neck in No-Gi situations. Your other grip will be an overhook on the arm you will be attacking. The goal of these grips is to provide you with a safety net if things fail so really do hold on to them for dear life.
Drilling the flying armbar starts slow. First, post the sole of the foot on the side opposite your overhook grip on the opponent’s hip. Then, use it to propel yourself upwards, trying to place the back of the knee of your other leg over the head of the opponent. A second safety spot here is placing this leg on the shoulder, so if you fail you can still snap up a triangle from the bottom.
Once again as with all flying submissions, start by pushing yourself upwards, trying to stay there, and figure out little kinks. Then, go for a jumping version, on a training partner that is aware of what you’re doing. Finally, you can go full speed, watching out for both you and your training partner.
A Word of Warning
Flying submissions are inherently dangerous. You are subjecting yourself to the immutable laws of physics; anything that goes up must come down. If you try one of these submissions against a smaller opponent, or even a similarly sized but fatigued or unsuspecting opponent, then you may find your attack turned against you as both you and they come crashing to the ground.
Even more important to remember is the ruleset you are playing under. While slamming is outlawed in IBJJF, it is occasionally legal in some other BJJ tournaments an is usually permitted in MMA. If you’re practicing BJJ for a potential real-life confrontation, realize that being slammed on concrete is potentially life-ending. While not as dangerous, being slammed on tatami mats can easily cause neck or back injuries and concussions.
Note: White belts cannot jump closed guard under IBJJF rules. This includes flying triangles and flying armbars! Not only is it illegal, but many white belts don’t yet have the rules internalized and may slam you instinctively.
If you want your submission game to soar you’ll need to practice! The flying triangle and flying armbar are more than just novelty techniques – if done well they can be decisive and stunning finishing techniques. Keep in mind that these techniques do carry a higher degree of risk both for you and your partner, but don’t be afraid to see what heights your game can climb to!