A few years back a Norwegian grappler came up with a variation of a shoulder lock that took the Jiu Jitsu community by storm. Like most things, the fascination with this “new” submission quickly died down.
However, this move remains a highly versatile and efficient technique, both in the context of BJJ and MMA. This article is all about the Tarikoplata shoulder lock, how to do it, and why you should add it to your submission game.
What is The Tarikoplata
The Tarikoplata is a shoulder lock that falls under the Kimura category. It involves amplifying the Kimura lock by introducing the power of your legs into the mix. Instead of just securing a figure four grip (a.k.a. Kimura grip) and then engage in a seemingly endless back and forth battle of strength to break your opponent’s grip, you switch to a combined leg and arm grip which allows for a much stronger shoulder lock finish.
A very easy way to understand the Tarikoplata is to explain how it works from the North-South position. It will require a previously obtained Kimra grip.
Most people’s natural response when being attacked with a North-South Kimura is to grip whatever they can get a hold of (their collar, their belt, their leg, their other arm) in order to stop their trapped arm from going behind their back. This “safety” grip will be their downfall when you know how to do a Tarikoplata.
For the Tarikoplata, you need to pass your leg that is in front of the opponent’s face over their torso, trapping their forearm. At this point, you can let go of the Kimura grip, grab your own thigh and use the power of your hips and leg to get a powerful shoulder lock – completely disregarding their “safety” grip.
History Of The Tarikoplata Lock
The man to credit for the Tarikoplata is Norwegian grappler Tarik Hopstock. Hopstock received his black belt from Eduardo “Teta” Rios, and trains at Frontline Academy in Oslo. An active and successful competitor, Tarik made a name for himself competing at every belt up until and including black belt.
The Tarikoplata is a move he developed as a blue belt. Somewhere around 2014, frustrated by his inability to finish a Kimura because of his opponent’s defensive grips, Hopstock literally threw his legs in the air, stumbling upon something nobody had tried before. Hence, the Tarioplata was born.
Training with an experienced instructor like Teta, along with Tarik’s curious and creative mind meant that he kept working on his signature move, polishing and developing it painstakingly until it became foolproof (as much as possible).
He looked for the move in competitions, getting taps with it more from bottom positions at first, before figuring out the details that make it work from the top as well. People in the BJJ community began to notice his success with the move and he became famous for it in 2018 as a brown belt.
Nowadays the Tarikoplata has been picked up by some of the biggest names in grappling, including Gordon Ryan, Ffion Davies, and Mica Galvao.
The Details Of The Tarikoplata
The move works in both gi and no-gi, but the details will vary depending on the context. The technique can also be thrown from the bottom, where you can hunt for this creative shoulder lock not just offensively, but also as a counter when your guard is being overwhelmed.
Key note: Be aware of your opponent’s legs when you’re throwing your leg over. If your leg gets trapped in between them (as in half guard) you have no way of setting up a Tarikpoplata.
Tarikoplata From Guard
The closed guard offers the most options for setting up a Tarikoplata. Basically, any Kimura setup you have from the bottom is going to work, as the Tarikoplata builds on the Kimura grip.
To set it up, begin by pulling your opponent forward via a collar grip or collar tie, aiming to get a deep underhook. Once you have an underhook, your next step is throwing the far leg over their head, thus exposing the arm for a Kimura grip, or for a direct Tarikoplata grip (deep hook going inside their bent arm and grabbing your own thigh).
You can finish from the bottom, but in most cases, your opponent will roll in an attempt to alleviate the pressure. This won’t impact your ability to finish, and you’ll simply need to follow their roll to get a top position finish.
A very useful application of the Tarikoplata is as a counterattack when opponents are actively trying to pass your guard. It is particularly effective at rendering the stack pass ineffective.
During a stack pass (a.k.a. a double underhook pass) an opponent has both their arms wrapped around your legs, forcing you on your neck. Countering it requires you to grab a cross collar grip and try to open up your knees (think Yoga lotus/butterfly pose) so that you open up space under one of the opponent’s armpits.
The space you’ve now created is where you need to thread the same side arm, still holding on to the cross collar grip. This will allow you to pull yourself forward, creating an angle that kills the stack pass. This will allow you to bring that all-important leg over their head.
You’ll need to switch which arm is threaded around their arm – by locking your hands in an S-grip you should be able to easily switch from one arm to the other.
Tarikoplata From The Top
Side Control / North-South
Side control and north-south are the most common positions for hunting Kimuras, usually by way of the Kimura trap system. Hence, it is also a position that the tarikoplata shines.
For the tarikoplata you want to first shift your weight slightly towards the back of the opponent and attempt to “break” the Kimura grip so that they tightens up. This means they won’t be chasing after your leg when you throw it over their arm.
Moreover, pay attention to keeping your wrist as far up your thigh as possible. This will prevent you from accidentally wrist-locking yourself. It will also allow you to free up the other arm so that you can post on the ground behind your opponent’s back. The perfect depth of your leg in relation to their trapped arm is aiming to have their wrist behind the crook of your knee.
Helicopter Tarikoplata / Tarikoplata from the Turtle
When your opponent is turtled up, and they leave enough space for you to get an underside grip on the far arm, you are not limited to back attacks. Instead, you can perform a very impressive yet easy entry into a Tarikoplata.
Using the arm that is gripping their arm as a pivot, your goal is to sneak the same side leg underneath their arm so that your opponent’s wrist is in the crook of your knee. From there, you can finish shoulder lock using the guard setups presented earlier.
Finishing The Tarikoplata
So far I only covered entering into the Tarikoplata, and for a good reason. If you are aiming to learn the submission hold, you will need to be able to keep your opponent trapped in the position that precedes the tap itself. Until you become comfortable entering into the position, the finish is not a priority.
Once you’re comfortable enough getting to and holding people in a Tarikoplata, you can focus on the finishing details. Since most finishes are from the top, even if you set it up from the bottom it is logical to start learning that finish first.
The breaking pressure of a Tarikoplata shoulder lock comes from the rotation of your hips. In order to achieve it, you will need to know how to properly position the leg that is trapping the arm. Avoid any position that has your toes on the ground. It is best to keep the top of your foot glued to the mats, pointing your toes towards your opponent’s head.
This provides both additional pressure on the arm as well as a direction in which your hips will naturally want to turn to. It also provides more than ample space for a complete range of motion that will certainly end with a tap.
One more very useful hint from Tarik himself is to keep your free arm posted on the ground so that you stay postured up. If you lean too far forward, you will lose the mechanical advantage and your opponent might slip their arm out.
Gi and No-Gi Tarikoplata Adjustments
The Tarikoplata shoulder lock works perfectly well both for no-gi and gi Jiu Jitsu. All of the setups above work perfectly in both situations. However, when the opponent has a gi jacket on, a few more options open up during the setup stages of the submission.
You can use your opponent’s lapel to trap their wrist while you’re holding a North-South Kimura grip. From there, you can transfer your leg over their arm more easily, and rest a bit before going for the usual finish.
As a plus, you can use the grip to transition into sneaky paper cutter chokes as well, adding variety to your game.
Tarikoplata vs. Barataplata
Tarik is not the first person to try to improve the Kimura shoulder lock by introducing his legs into the mix. Long before him, a Brazilian named Rafael “Barata” Freitas did something similar. He just set up his variation in the opposite direction of Tarik and focused on full guard and mount setups.
The main difference between a Tarikoplata and a Barataplata is that you’re using the other arm in order to finish. From a bottom setup, that means that you want to trap the opponent’s arm using an underhook with the far arm, as you’re looking to get into the position. Furthermore, you’ll aim to thread the other arm in, looking to grab the thigh of the leg going over their head.
The arm is also positioned less deeply, with the wrist at the level of your crotch rather than the crook of your knee. Both shoulder locks can be finished from the bottom, or used to roll the opponent over for a top side submission.
The Tarikoplata is a must-have tool to have in your submission toolbox as a modern-day grappler. Why wouldn’t everyone want an improved version of the Kimura that can work regardless of setting and from both top and bottom?
What I love the most is that Tarik is not done developing this technique and keeps improving the position constantly, discovering and sharing new details about both setups and finishes.