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The 6 Factors Of The Perfect Armbar – Mark Hatmaker

The armbar whether applied top-body, cross-body, or from underneath is one of the top three finishers in both MMA and submission-only grappling. (As a matter of fact it’s almost a neck-and-neck tie with the rear-naked choke.)

The armbar is a tool that all competitors should be familiar with inside of 30 days of stepping on the mat, and like the jab to the boxer it should never stop being honed even if you are a seasoned veteran of several decades.

With honing that arm-bar to a razor’s edge in mind, I offer the following tips to make that sharpening a bit easier.

(BTW-We detail all of these on RAW 171)

Number 1: Kill Daylight

That is, there should be zero space (zero) between your crotch and the attacked shoulder. No matter your set-up top-side, cross-side, or bottom-side you should indelicately grind your crotch from armpit to scapula.

Forget the “perfect” positioning over mid-humerus get tight tight tight to the attacked arm’s root, i.e., the shoulder and stay there.

Number 2: Bone-On-Bone

Often, we are offered the advice to keep the attacked arm in the thumb-up/little-finger down position to be able to finish the arm-bar. This leads some with good hip-positioning to grab that wrist or forearm and attempt to twist or hand-fight to get the “preferred” positioning.

Allow me to say, that if you follow all of the other factors thumb-up, thumb-down, thumb-right, or thumb-left simply does not matter. The key lies in the strength of the hip-positioning and the “leg-grip.”

Take care of these and you can switch to a palm-to-palm grip of your hands that allows you to grind the non-fleshy portion of your radius bone against any portion of the attacked wrist plastering it to your chest and you will be good to go.

Number 3: Cross the Feet

Yeah, I know a no-no in some precincts but in conjunction with Factor #1 and Factor #5 the mechanical advantage of crossing the feet makes a huuuuuuuge difference.

My catch cadre will understand by envisioning a bit of John “Tiger Man” Pesak’s head-scissors mechanics.

Number 4: Straighten the Legs

Do Not Heel-In or Hook-In. Either of these spurring tactics is usually a gambit to “keep” an opponent. If you are following Killing Daylight principles spurring is no longer an issue.

Number 5: Squeeze the Knees

The leg grip will already be tight if you have crossed the feet and straightened the legs, but a conscious inward squeeze added to steps 3 & 4 will turn the heat up on the sizzling griddle of pain you are serving up.

Number 6: Hips-Thru

It is only after the prior five principles have been observed do we apply the pop. Once you’ve tightened up Numbers 1-5 you’ll find (as we demonstrate on RAW 171) that the hips-thru may only need travel a single inch before the tap hits.

The synergistic application of all 6 Factors improves the mechanical advantage of the armbar exponentially. Think of it as the difference between a lifted guillotine where we can see muscle in play and a Hook Chancery where we literally see nothing from the aggressor but we do see the tap from the opponent.

Follow the six-step blueprint and you take an already top-tier weapon into nuclear territory.

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8 thoughts on “The 6 Factors Of The Perfect Armbar – Mark Hatmaker”

  1. These tactics you reveal are at the very best awesome. Thank you for sharing these . Self defense tactics

  2. I can see this as I’m reading but wish there were pictures. I know it’s a good finisher in sport contests but not seeing how it might be useful in a street fight. How do you set it up?I’m gonna have to study this one guys. Thanks for the info. Keep them coming.

  3. As with mastering any tech, people forget it all starts and ends with the “BASICS” !!!!!!!!!!

  4. Nice tips, but a video would have been nice to see all the tips executed. Visual always helps to see just what to do and exactly how to do it.


  6. I agree with Everything and could pretty much follow. Great Instructions, Not Knocking that at All, but I also agree with what one other guy has posted, saying that a Video of at least one or two arm bars would have been Totally Awesome and better understood for those Hands-On people like Myself. There’s a saying also, “”Seeing is Believing””. Thank You, Y’all Guy’s are Awesome,, Much Love and Respect