The Omoplata Submission

The Omoplata is a highly effective submission in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) that targets your opponent’s shoulder. It’s been proven to be a powerful finishing move in both Gi and No-Gi competition.

How does the Omoplata Work?

The Omoplata is a shoulder lock submission. It relies on:

  1. Trapping your opponent’s arm.
  2. Immobilizing the rest of their body, so they can’t roll out of your control (or hop to the other side)
  3. Using your hips as leverage to break their shoulder/collar bone

There are a ton of ways to set up the Omoplata, but it’s most commonly worked on from closed guard. This tutorial does a great job breaking down the mechanics of the submission:

The Omoplata in MMA

How about in MMA? Well, to be honest I don’t think the Omoplata is a particularly smart move to go for in an MMA fight. If you aren’t able to secure the tap, you frequently end up in a bottom half guard (or even worse, side control). While this isn’t in the end of the world in a BJJ tournament, it will just lead to you getting ground and pounded in an MMA fight.

There have only been a couple of Omoplata finishes in the UFC, most notably Adam Wieczorek’s Omoplata victory over Arjan Bhullar on the UFC on Fox 29 card.

History of the Omoplata

In Portuguese, Omoplata means scapula or shoulder blade. While it probably originated in either catch wrestling or Judo, it came onto the scene as early as the 1930s.  

For a while, the Omoplata Submission was known, but unrefined and lacked effectiveness. Most of the time athletes would use it in training, but not in competitions. It was not taught in every academy until a little over 25 years ago. 

In particular, Nino Schembri developed the Omoplata Submission from just a shoulder lock into a legitimate sweep and submission. He used this move with great success, so now it is a well-known submission taught in all academies. The Omoplata Submission is now considered a must-know technique taught across the world as early as the white belt level.

Clark Gracie and the Omoplata

My favorite BJJ competitor’s Omoplata is undoubtedly Clark Gracie. Clark has a never ending highlight real of effortless looking Omoplatas, which he seemingly can access from any guard.

Clark Gracie has finished some extremely high level opponents with the Omoplata, proving that it is a legitimate submission (at least in Gi Jiu Jitsu):

Aside from Clark Gracie, in 2010 Bernardo Faria won the gold in the open class Black Belt Pan-American Championship using this move.  Also, Dominyka Obeleyente is known for her Omoplata Submission, contributing to her achievements as an open class and weight female black belt world champion.

Sweep vs Submission

I personally find the Omoplata difficult to finish, *but* I still implement it in my game. Rather than trying to finish the submission, I use the technique as a way to sweep my opponent and end up in a powerful side control with a trapped arm.

Black Belt and YouTube favorite MMA Leech shows some excellent options from the Omoplata control in this video:

Final Thoughts

Even though the Omoplata might not be the most effective submission for an MMA or street fight, you will definitely want to learn it to be a complete martial artist.

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