BJJ / Grappling Back Take Tips: The Secret to Successful Armdrags

Commitment is very important in martial arts in general and especially so in BJJ and grappling. Coming to BJJ from the "one-punch-one-kill" mentality of Karate, every BJJ coach / instructor I've learned from has stressed upon me that in grappling, moves are never a one-off and combinations are the key to success. Nonetheless, you must commit to each individual technique, have full faith in it and never do it half-heartedly. This is never truer than in the example of armdrags.

The heart of armdrags (irrespective whether from closed guard, open/butterfly guard or even standing) is in the first two moves:

1. Clearing the arm to the side
2. Reaching your arm across his back to the opposite lat.

What you do from here depends really on where your partner’s weight is and your own preference really… Christian Graugart gives a very nice breakdown of a few options on his blog. Above all, however, nothing will work unless you completely own that arm, and that is achieved by hugging/clinching tightly.

Leave behind the false notion that pure technique involves no muscle exertion. That is a misunderstanding! The art is pitting your strengths against your partner’s weaknesses: Your two legs against their neck (triangle) your hips and back against their biceps (arm bar) and, in the case of the armdrag, your clinching musculature against an isolated lat and rear deltoid! Once you get the arm past your centre line, you own it. Maintain a tight hug while you advance to the back (or any other option).

In the words of Beatrix Kiddo: Those of you lucky enough to have your lives, take them with you. However, leave the limbs you've lost. They belong to me now.

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