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Home Grappling BJJ 8 Ways to Defend Against the Omoplata


The omoplata is another versatile shoulder lock in grappling martial arts that can be applied from almost any guard and top positions. Although it is generally applied from the guard positions, through experimentation and hard work, there are now abundant of ways and openings to set up the omoplata. You can even transition to omoplata if you failed to fully execute a submission hold such as armbar or triangle choke. It can also be applied to attain advantageous positions by sweeping, making it one of the best submissions in the game when it comes to adaptability.

The locking mechanism of the move involves wrapping the legs around the arm, turning 180 degrees in the direction of the leg to the ground and putting tremendous amount of tension to the shoulder and elbow by wrenching the arm of the opponent perpendicularly away from the back. Tap out pressure comes when you lift your hips off the ground and push the trapped elbow down.

Though effective, it is relatively hard to successfully apply and maintain control of the lock compared to other arm locks. Most of the time, it is applied just to sweep the opponent, either you force him over using the leverage created in the position or your opponent tries to roll out to escape. Escaping from the lock is rather simple. Here we take a look at eight ways to defend against the omoplata.

1. Roll Over

This is the most common escape from the omoplata and usually occurs just after your opponent places his legs over your arm and shoulder. Get on your knees the make a stable base and roll over the trapped shoulder. It is important that you face your opponent as you roll. In that way, you’ll always end up on top. It will also prevent your opponent from sweeping you.

2. Roll Over to Omoplata Counter

This is another variation of the Roll over escape that lets you reverse the omoplata if your opponent is not careful in securing with a “seat belt”. The so called “seat belt” is usually done in executing an omoplata by placing the inner arm over the waist to stop you from rolling out. Once you’re about to complete the roll, you can momentarily balance yourself on your back and grab the opponent’s inner arm. This will put your opponent on your own omoplata upon landing.

3. Stack and Slide

Use your knee and hands to prevent being pushed down. Stand on your free leg and protect the attacked arm by pulling it upwards and linking it with the other hand. This will stack him up and put him in an uncomfortable position. Once you’re fully in control of the position, catch his outer leg and drive your head under as you maneuver to his side.

4. Stack and Spin

This is a high percentage escape slightly similar to the previous technique. Lock up your shoulder and your torso by placing the attacked arm to your thigh. This will give you enough time to post your free hand on the floor. Once you put your hand on the floor it is important to start basing back into your opponent and put your foot on the floor. Make sure to base back until your opponents lower back and hips are off the floor. When it does come time to sit through you want to make sure the only thing of your opponents that is touching the floor is his/her shoulders. This will make spinning them much easier.

The back of the knuckles should be the part pushing the hips. It is a weird angle that not many people would think to push. Continue stacking and push with the hands to have enough momentum to get to the turtle position on the other side. If you do not stack and push hard enough you may only come up half way and scramble.

5. Knee Thrust

If your opponent does not sit up on time, you can put your knee on their stomach and start thrusting. Putting pressure down with your knee makes them uncomfortable. You can then stand as you grab their foot or hips to get a better base and pry your arm out.

6. Arm Pry

Once the omoplata is locked in, you can sit to your thighs and push the opponent’s hips with the free hand as you pry the trapped arm out. If done correctly, you should come up to a side mount.

7. Slip Under

It is also possible to counter an omoplata attack by shooting your knee underneath the hips right before the opponent crank your arm down. Your knees should be oriented in an S-position as drive your elbow to the ground to establish a good base. What this does a lot of time is it lets you slip under their hips and allow you to roll the opponent over into turtle position.

8. Step Over

If you timed the omoplata just before it gets fully locked in, it is very possible that you can plant your knee on the opponent’s belly and use the free leg to kick over. If executed correctly, you can get to the side and pass their guard. You should only apply this escape if your opponent is not controlling your legs tightly and they are laying flat on their back.

Keep in mind you are not out of danger at any point even after successfully escaping the lock. When you defend against an omoplata, make sure that you’re also ready to defend a triangle choke. This is one of the most common combinations in Jiu jitsu. This can be simply done by always shooting your other arm through the guard right after defending from the lock.

You should always know that your best defense is to understand how to not be put in the submission. But if you get caught with an attack, the faster you react the better your chances are. When you’re caught in a submission, there is such a thing as being a little too late to defend. That’s when you tap.

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