There is no better person to show you something than someone who has done said thing hundreds of thousands of times. Mr. Roger Gracie is one of those people when it comes to Jiu Jitsu. We’re looking at an arm lock variation from the closed guard he likes to use, and some common reactions to the move.

Being Sneaky From The Closed Guard 

For the newcomers, the closed guard is an essential position in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and probably something you go over on your first day. It gives you plenty of opportunities to control, submit, and sweep your opponent.

The key to success from the closed guard is being sneaky. If you’re too transparent with your attacks, you’ll be fighting not just to set them up, but against counters as well. Instead, you want to mask everything that you’re doing, so that opponents have no idea what hit them. This is why Roger Gracie was so successful with the simplest BJJ game ever – people knew what he’d do, but they couldn’t see it coming. 

The arm lock itself is a submission hold with which you control your opponent’s shoulder with your legs and place pressure on their elbow. Typically, we’d use the leg that’s under the armpit to climb up and stomp onto our partner’s shoulders. However, Roger Gracie gives a high guard variation that will kill many of their defensive reactions. This is a GI move that can perhaps be modified to work no-GI with an arm drag cross grip.

Breaking Down the Roger Gracie Closed Guard Arm Lock

Whenever you get the closed guard the first thing you ought to focus on are grips. Either that or you’ll be working to break posture by pulling their head down or trapping a head and an arm. In this case, Mr. Gracie tells us to work the grips first.

The grip of choice is a cross-grip on the sleeve followed up by a cross-collar grip with the other arm. The reason for doing this is killing your opponent’s ability to swim over your collar-grip and breaking it with their forearm. This grip is essential for setting up the sneaky Roger Gracie arm lock. 

Once you’ve got both grips set up, the goal is to get to high guard. It involves climbing high onto your opponent’s shoulders and bring the collar-grip elbow down to your hip. A key moment is to do it over the crook of your opponent’s arm that you’re attacking. This traps in place and provides you with the correct leverage point for a submission.

This combination of a cross sleeve and cross collar grip, along with the high guard provides a very tight control positon. From there, you only need one more step to finish the arm lock. While you can do it against a static opponent, expect people to try and step up the moment you lock their shoulder in the high guard. This actually makes things worse for them – just swing a leg over and you get every tight finish! 

The Simplicity Of Roger Gracie’s Game

This Roger Gracie arm lock works extremely well because of the fact that it is simple. It is simple to set up, simple to finish, and extremely hard to get out of. the perfect storm. The high guard makes everything way more simply because of the fact it brings your hips much closer to the end position for an arm lock. 

If you take a look at arm lock setups from the guard, you might notice that there are 6-7 or more steps that people usually learn. This is unrealistic when it comes to actually execute it against trained opponents in a match or a roll. Instead, you need a simple setup that will work in one, motion, rather than several different and distinct steps. 

This is precisely the season why Roger Gracie was so dangerous in competition, he had a simple game based on continuous and uncomplicated motions, which get him the position/submission he desires directly, rather than having to fight for ti step by step. Moreover, it made his game look and feel free-flowing, which s a mark of high-level Jiu Jitsu.