Stephan Kesting in this video discussed how to defend the armbar when you are in someone’s closed guard.
1. Preventing the armbar
The first thing that he discussed is prevention. The number one rule is to never get your elbow cross the guard player’s center line.
Next, it is possible to prevent the armbar by making it difficult for the opponent to bring his leg in front of your face. A good way to prevent the leg from stepping over the head is by bringing the head low.
Another effective method in preventing the armbar is to glue the hips on the mats. It is done by pinning the hip with the hand while the knees are pinched to cage the hip of the guard player. By preventing the hip from swiveling, it prevents the guard player to effectively attack the arm.
2. Defend The Armbar Using The Mata Leao Defense
A common way to defend the armbar is to do a mata leao or the rear naked choke grip. You do this by taking the arm that is attacked and grab your other arm’s bicep. The other hand then grips either on the knee or behind the knee.
This defense is ideal once you see the leg of your opponent swiveling to go in front of the face and you have established a grip behind the knee. If you were too late to react, you can still cup the knee and just squeeze your arm tight.
From here, you put your knee beside his head and post the other foot to make the knee control the hip. This detail prevents the guy from spinning underneath or getting yourself rolled on your back.
Next, you drive down to stack the guard player. From this position, wiggle the elbow of the arm that is being attacked. Once the elbow is free, drive it down the knee and proceed passing the guard.
3. Ninja Star Defense
In this scenario, you are too late to react to make a Mata leao grip. Instead, the first thing that you are going to do is to link your hands. This grip can buy you some time to work your escape. Next, you want to sag your body towards the ground. This somehow puts pressure on the opponent’s leg similar to a smash pass.
You can then proceed to let go of the grip and hit the chest with the thumb in such a way that there is no angle for an armbar. You then have the opportunity to pull the arm back.
Conclusion: How to Defend The Arm Bar
There are endless escapes and transitions to defend against the arm bar. However, the best defense is prevention. Knowing what it take to set up the arm bar and using that knowledge to disrupt your opponent’s systematic sequence so he/she can no longer hold the position. We recommend your better familiarize yourself with good practices for executing the armbar first. This will help with your understanding of escaping it later on.