The 5 Most Important Submissions in BJJ

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, or BJJ for short, is one of the world’s most effective martial arts styles. It emphasizes using your body to pin your opponent to the mat and then winning through a submission. 

A submission occurs when you get your opponent to give up or tap out by using a move that could potentially harm them. In BJJ, there are many different types of submissions. 

This article will explore the five most important submissions in BJJ, how to perform them, and some famous matches that ended with each submission. Additionally, we will review submissions and the rulesets that accompany them.

Ruleset

Before diving into the submissions themselves, it’s essential to know that the legality of the submissions depends on the ruleset being used. For instance, not all leg-related submissions are allowed in specific competitions. The International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation (IBJJF) creates these rules.

There are several types of submissions that the IBJJF has banned. For example, the IBJJF banned the heel hook several decades ago and forbids the use of reaping at certain belt levels.

Different BJJ competitions will use different rulesets depending on the level of competition. It’s crucial to know the competition rules before using a specific submission.

Rear Naked Choke

The first submission is called the rear naked choke, and it’s one of the most common in BJJ. It’s performed by putting your arm around your opponent’s neck from behind and then choking them by squeezing. It can be done with one or both arms and is often used as a surprise attack.

To perform the rear naked choke, first, you need to get behind your opponent. Once you’re in position, you wrap your arm around their neck. You can use one arm or both arms to choke your opponent. Once you have a grip, all you need to do is squeeze, and they will be forced to tap out.

One of the most famous matches that ended with a rear naked choke was UFC 1 in 1993. In the first match of the very first UFC event, Royce Gracie used a rear naked choke to submit Gerard Gordeau. Gracie was able to apply and submit Gerard Gordeau at 1:44 in the bout. This submission quickly became one of the most popular in MMA and BJJ.

Triangle

Another popular submission in BJJ is the triangle choke. This move involves trapping your opponent’s arm between your legs and then choking them by squeezing. It’s a type of figure-four chokehold and forms a triangle with your legs around their neck and arm.

To perform a triangle choke, you need to get into the guard position with your legs wrapped around your opponent’s waist. Once you’re in position, reach up, grab one of their arms and pull it down towards your legs. 

You then need to take that same arm and bring it under your armpit, trapping the arm between your leg. From here, you can choke your opponent by squeezing with your legs.

One of the most famous matches that ended with a triangle choke was UFC 216 in 2017. Tony Ferguson defeated Kevin Lee with a triangle choke in the main event. In a tight fight, Ferguson was able to achieve the triangle choke in the fourth round.

Armbar

The armbar is another common submission in BJJ and MMA. It’s a move that involves hyperextending your opponent’s elbow, causing them to tap out from the pain.

To perform an armbar, your opponent needs to be in the guard position with their arm outstretched, and you need to wrap your legs around them. From here you need to pull their arm towards you, twisting it so that the elbow is pointed up towards the sky. 

Once you have their arm in the correct position, all you need to do is extend your legs and pull down on their arm. This will hyperextend the elbow and cause your opponent to tap out.

One of the most famous matches that ended with an armbar happened at UFC 116 in 2010. Chris Lytle was in a tight match with Matt Brown. Although Lytle called himself a boxer, he won this match with an armbar and shocked the world. 

During the fight, Lytle was in side control and was able to sneak his legs over Brown’s head. From there, he was able to achieve an armbar and win the match.

Kimura

The Kimura is a submission that was popularized in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu but has since become a staple in mixed martial arts (MMA) as well. It’s performed by trapping your opponent’s arm between your legs, then twisting it until they tap out from the pain.

It would be best to be in the guard position with your opponent’s arm trapped between your legs to perform a Kimura. From here, you need to turn your body away from their trapped arm and pull it up towards the sky. 

You can then secure the lock by wrapping your arm around their elbow and pulling down on it. You should also twist your body in the opposite direction to hyperextend their elbow as you pull.

One of the most famous Kimura finishes occurred in UFC 140 in 2011. Frank Mir was able to submit Rodrigo Nogueira through a Kimura submission. 

Nogueira was a heavy favorite in this match and was known for his submissions. Nogueira went for a guillotine choke, and Mir was able to achieve a Kimura that broke Nogueira’s shoulder.

Omoplata

The Omoplata is a shoulder lock that can be performed from many different positions but is most commonly applied from the guard position. It involves trapping your opponent’s arm between your legs and then using your body to force the shoulder joint backward until they tap out.

To perform an Omoplata, you need to be in the guard position either with your opponent’s arm trapped between your legs or with one of their arms wrapped around your waist. From here, you need to use your legs to control their arm and then roll your body over theirs. 

As you roll, you need to extend your legs so that their arm is forced back into a shoulder lock.

The Omoplata is one of the most difficult submissions to perform, and it’s not commonly seen in MMA. It’s a highly technical submission and more challenging to pull off than the triangle choke.

One of the most famous matches that ended with an Omoplata was UFC Fight Night 49 in 2014. Ben Saunders and Chris Heatherly faced off in a highly anticipated match. 

Saunders was able to submit Heatherly through an Omoplata. Initially, it looked like Saunders was going for a triangle choke but smoothly transitioned to an Omoplata for the submission.

Wrapping Up

The five most important submissions in BJJ are the triangle choke, armbar, Kimura, Omoplata, and rear naked choke. Each of these submissions is performed in different ways, but they all share the common goal of using leverage and joint manipulation to force your opponent to tap out. 

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a beginner of BJJ, it’s essential to know how to perform these submissions to succeed in BJJ.

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