Basic BJJ Combinations: Arm Trap Series From Side Control

In BJJ, to set a trap means to limit the probable responses that the opponent will make. Setting a trap in certain positions forces the opponent to respond predictably, making it easier to anticipate his defensive reactions against your submission attempts. This article will describe a basic arm trap combination that you may apply from the side control.


What Is A Trap In BJJ?

An indicator that a Jiu-Jitsu student has a clear understanding of the fundamentals is when he develops a personal game in certain positions and knows the ins and outs around it. An example is setting a trap. A trap in BJJ is where you confine an opponent in a particular position to limit his responses, forcing him to respond with predictable defensive movements, making transitional submissions highly efficient.

An arm trap from side control with a combination of submissions is an example of a trap. The arm trap from side control is a great way to isolate an opponent’s arm, as it leaves him with limited space and movements to escape, making him more susceptible to the threat of submissions.


Submissions In The Arm Trap From Side Control

bjj side guards

The basic arm trap series from side control comprises three submissions, namely the Americana, armbar, and kimura. These three submissions are known as the triple threat attack from side control. It uses the three fundamental submissions that go along with each other to set a trap on an opponent’s arm. First, let’s talk about the three submissions:

  • The Americana is a type of figure-four armlock that applies pressure to the elbow and shoulder joints by bending the arm at a 90-degree angle with the hand facing upward. Typically, grapplers use the Americana as an initial threat before transitioning to other submissions.
  • The armbar is a submission that uses the hips to create pressure on the opponent’s elbow joint through hyperextension. Even though the armbar is one of the fundamental submissions that a student will learn, it takes months or even years to become efficient with this technique. Performing this submission requires great control, as it creates a mismatch by using the lower body against the opponent’s upper body. Another variation of this technique is the straight armbar, which will be used in the arm trap series.
  • The kimura is a shoulder lock that is performed similarly to the Americana except that the arm is facing downwards. Although some may consider the kimura a strength and big guy move, the technique has proven its effectiveness in controlling the opponent’s arm.


Arm Trap Series from Side Control

According to John Danaher, almost everything we do in grappling begins with the hands. The hands play a significant role, as it works as a connector for us to apply force against our opponents. In BJJ, controlling the opponent’s arm includes controlling the opponent’s hand and grips. To control the arm means to deny the opponent the ability to perform defensive reactions such as framing, giving us better control.

The arm trap series, also known as the triple threat attack from side control, works on using the position to isolate the far arm, enabling a series of attacks that depend on the opponent’s limited reaction. The arm trap series from side control requires positional control; thus, it is important to keep in mind to first secure the position before attempting a submission.

To start the arm trap series, first secure the side control and transition to the scarf hold position. Grab the opponent’s far wrist, push down the hand to the mat, and set up the figure-four grip. While in side control, maintain heavy hips to apply pressure or pin the opponent’s near arm down with your knee to prevent him from framing and creating space.

Keep your elbow near the opponent’s neck and finish the Americana. To finish the Americana, push the opponent’s wrist down, lift his elbows, and lean your body weight forward to add pressure. If the opponent defended the Americana by straightening his arm down, transition to the straight armbar.

To move to the straight armbar, switch from your figure-four wrist to wrist grip, to grab your biceps. Follow the opponent’s wrist, pinning his arm with your head, and finish the straight armbar by lifting his elbows on the floor. Turning your body sideways while pushing down the opponent’s arm towards his feet as you lift the elbow will exert greater pressure on his joints, making the submission more effective.

From the straight armbar, if the opponent decides to rotate his arm downward, transition to the kimura. To do the kimura, switch your figure-four straight armbar grip from your bicep and go under the opponent’s hand, back to the figure-four wrist to wrist grip. Finish the kimura strong by pinning the opponent’s wrist to the floor as you turn your head towards his hips while sprawling your legs and pulling his elbows up.

An additional variation to finishing the kimura is by pulling the opponent’s elbow up and stepping over his head, bringing his body to the side. This results in the kimura from the north-south position, with you sitting on the opponent’s head, and from there, finish in the same fashion.

To summarize the arm trap series from side control, start in side control, then move to scarf hold. Pin the opponent’s near arm with your knee and force the far arm of the opponent down by pushing his wrist. Apply the figure-four grip and finish the Americana. If the opponent straightens his arm, switch the wrist-to-wrist figure four grip to one grip to the bicep and transition to a straight armbar. If the opponent is persistent and rotates his arm down, switch grips and go for the kimura.


Final Thoughts

Thoroughly studying our preferred positions in BJJ will help us understand the escapes and attacks available from there, enabling us to formulate a better overarching game plan. Learning how to set traps in BJJ will help us anticipate the possible ways our opponent may react, thus allowing us to apply a series of submissions.


You may also like:

How To Pass The De La Riva Guard In BJJ