As a beginner in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, you probably want to learn submissions and nothing else, right? Of course you do, because that’s what makes BJJ so exciting! Choking someone out with a well-applied Rear Naked Choke, tapping them out with a neat Leglock or Kimura… It just feels so amazing! But the truth is, you need to work on your defense and your escapes as well. Because if you’re hard to submit – you’ll have more opportunities for offense as well!
Now, a really common submission that’ll come across your way is the Armbar. Here’s the best defense against it for beginners; the Hitchhiker Escape.
Coach Tom, from The Grappling Academy, demonstrates.
DON’T „DEFEND“ THE ARMBAR – BUT ESCAPE IT!
Coach Tom begins by explaining a few important points. First of all, your goal should be to prevent the Armbar from ever happening in the first place. That is to say, if your training partner Mounts you, keep your tight to your chest. Don’t flare them out! This will get you tapped out faster than in the blink of an eye.
But the truth is, no matter how good your defense is, some of your training partners are simply better than you are. They will be able to blast through it, no matter how much you try to keep those elbows in, and they’ll transition to the Armbar.
When that happens, you need to realize that you’re not supposed to actually defend the Armbar. Meaning, when they want to finish the submission, your goal needs to be escaping it. „Defending“ it means that you’re stuck in that position where your grip is the only thing separating you from the tap. But sooner or later, your grip will give in. And you’ll be done for.
Even worse is the „defense“ that a lot of new white belts try to… Well, muscle out with. When your training partner starts extending your hand, don’t try to negate it by curling up. Your bicep muscle isn’t nearly as strong as the partner’s whole body – do this and you’ll get injured!
In other words: defense is utilized before their Armbar is set up. Escaping is used when they have the Armbar setup in place and are trying to finish it.
So, how do you go about escaping it? Coach Tom has an incredibly easy, effective and often-used escape.
THE HITCHHIKER ESCAPE
Yes, the Hitchhiker Escape is the name of your savior! The way to implementing it is by turning your thumb down and using explosiveness.
What this means in practical terms is that, before your opponent goes to break your grip and extend your arm, you need to point your thumb down towards the floor. After all, one of the most important points to finishing an Armbar is to have the opponent’s thumb face towards the ceiling… So, you need to do the opposite! When you point it down, your arm won’t be extended as it is otherwise – and this is a great win for you!
With that in mind, as the training partner is trying to break your grip, you’ll initiate the escape by using your whole body in an explosive fashion, exploding with your arm so that you bend at the elbow and that your thumb goes towards the floor. Also, turn yourself into the opposite side.
From here, you’ll keep turning into that direction while keeping the pressure running through your bent arm’s shoulder; finally getting around your opponent and out of the Armbar danger – where you can get to Side Control instead.
Watch coach Tom’s great demonstration of the Hitchhiker Escape below:
Get Out Of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu’s Worst Positions, Gi Or No-Gi, With Lachlan Giles’s Insights Into Escaping.
The 2019 ADCC Absolute Medalist Teaches How To Get Out Bad Grappling Positions With Narrated Live Rolling Of Him Performing The Techniques.