So I've been watching a bit of BJJ lately and I've seen many techniques. Is it possible to actually rip or pull your arm out of an arm bar if someone's doing it to you. I mean, I've never seen it done, so the answer is probably no when someone does an arm bar or other joint lock right. However, apart from the attacker just doing the technique right, I don't understand why the defender can't just move their arm up and resist, not that there's a point.


I am going to assume we are talking about the cross body arm lock (juji gatame, in judo).

It is possible to escape before an opponent sets in a joint lock tightly. This basically involves maneuvering your elbow out of your opponent's legs. It's easiest to do this if you can still move your body around effectively.

It is not possible if you wait too long. A good arm lock does not leave much space for your body to move; it isolates the elbow joint and applies overwhelming force using leverage against it. Trying to bicep curl your way out will not work unless there is a huge size disparity (adult v. young child); you are trying to use one bicep against your opponents legs, abdomen, and two arms.

Part of setting an effective arm lock includes:

  1. squeezing the arm between the legs to prevent the elbow from escaping
  2. holding down the body with the legs long enough to apply lock
  • In my personal experience, sometimes, if you are lucky and your opponent is sloppy, you can rotate your wrist enough to weaken the grip on your arm enough to pull out of it, but that is usually a pretty rare situation. In a non-sporting environment, a cross body arm bar does tend to leave a juicy bit of leg flesh in easy biting distance.
    – Zen_Hydra
    Oct 19 '16 at 18:07
  • That's why we are taught to hold the wirst (not the gi) and rotate it until the thump if point to the sky. @Zen_Hydra Oct 21 '16 at 10:10
  • I once saw a movie starring Schwarzenegger (can't remember the title) when the bad guy apllies a good armlock. Schwarzenegger stands up, lifts the man and bangs him back to the floor ('bate-estaca' in a Brazilian BJJ gym). Seems legit! :P Oct 21 '16 at 10:14

There was a machine at a gym I used to go that was inadvertently an armbar exerciser. It started you out on your side, with your body in a "crunch" position, and you moved to straighten out your back, just using your core muscles, resisting against a weight that wanted to keep you crunched up. Basically, this is the armbar movement, where you are crunched in the abdomen and want to straighten out your back. The machine showed the targeted muscle group, which was your lower back, abs, and hamstrings.

I found I could EASILY move my own body weight (~155lb) worth of resistance in a series of 6-10 reps before getting tired. That means to resist my (admittedly weak) armbar with strength, you'd need to be able to do a bicep curl of roughly 150lbs on the arm I would be attacking.

Basically, when you armbar, you are using your lower back, glutes, and hamstring muscles (with some arm force, but not much) and are competing against your opponents lone bicep, or at most their bicep plus their grip strength if they attempt to hold only their attacked arm by their other arm's sleeve. This is not a fair fight, even if the attacker is much smaller than the defender, which is why the best armbar defense is to never let yourself get into a bad position on it to begin with.


It is the possible escape from all locks and chokes like in other martial arts. Dodge before the punch is possible, after isn't. In BJJ/Judo, it is the same.

In the case of the armbar, if I wait to try escape when you have my arm in stretched out position when it begins to hurt, it is really hard to escape. If you anticipate the armbar of my opponent and you move with him you have more chances to escape.

Some escapes possible:

  1. Open the leg off your head and move the leg to behind your neck.
  2. Open the leg off your body and hold this leg with your legs
  3. Twist your body in direction of your thumb, moving your body to the floor
  4. Put pressure on you opponents spine.

The samples are only to better description, it does not mean I follow these guys or they have some relation with me.

Some escapes can put you in risk of other submissions.

Some techniques help to have a good movement with low possibilities of escapes. Like the describable here.

  • Could you explain the escapes you're describing? "Open the leg of your head"? "Twist your body in direction of your thumb" - which thumb?!
    – Mike P
    Oct 18 '16 at 9:20
  • Maybe AFetter means the hitchhiker escape (#3) and stacking (#4)? Oct 19 '16 at 6:50
  • I add better description with samples.
    – AFetter
    Oct 25 '16 at 20:42

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