Here’s How To Utilize The Shotgun Armbar For BJJ

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art that was developed to overcome bigger and stronger opponents. What makes BJJ work is the fact that techniques are founded on sound knowledge of the human body. 

Understanding anatomy makes it easier to learn and develop techniques. All of us have the same skeletal structure, meaning that proven submissions in BJJ are assumed to work on almost anyone.

One good example of this is the reliable armbar. The armbar is a technique that’s been around for as long as grappling has. It is a submission that’s aimed to hyperextend the arm by bending it in places where it should not go. Today we’ll talk about a variant of the armbar known as the shotgun armbar. 


The Armlock

The armlock is a family of submissions that serves one purpose – to submit an opponent by bending the arm in compromising positions. There are two basic styles of the armlock: the bent armlock and the straight armlock. 

The shotgun armbar is a variant of the straight armlock – its finishing mechanic is identical to the basic straight armbar. What makes it unique is how you position your grips relative to the opponent’s arm. 


Shotgun Armbar From Guard

In this video, Chad Hardy explains the basics of the shotgun armbar. He mentions that the shotgun armbar is a cool alternative to the basic armbar as it is very sneaky. 

To start, control the back of the elbow on the same side and get a cross sleeve grip. Place your foot on the hip, scoot out, and if possible, throw your leg over their shoulder. Doing these steps will isolate the arm. To finish, squeeze your knees and use your grips to hyperextend the arm. 

A good tip when doing the shotgun armbar is to be unassuming when establishing your initial grips. Don’t tug on the sleeve before you attempt to apply the submission so that you can catch your opponent off-guard. 

The shotgun armbar is best learned from the closed guard. You can easily use this alternative as part of your attack rotation. Remember that you should be flexible in terms of attacking options to keep your opponent guessing at all times. Try to cycle between 3-5 attacks as you harass their base. You should be able to catch them if you stay on the offensive for as long as you can.


Shotgun Armbar From Knee on Belly (KOB)

The shotgun armbar can also be applied from pins like the knee on belly (KOB). Gustavo Gasperin explains the details of the move in this video. 

He mentions that the shotgun armbar (nearside armbar) is a classic submission from the knee on belly and is a great option for grapplers of all levels. From the KOB, block his hip with your fist to prevent them from shrimping as you use your other arm to crossface the head. 

From this position, you have two basic options depending on the opponent’s reaction. If they frame using their far arm, you can counter with the far side armbar. If they push using the nearside arm, that’s the time to use the shotgun armbar. 

To apply the shotgun armbar, cup the back of the elbow and catch it using your armpit. Shift your pinning leg near their shoulder blade, lean towards their leg, and swing your leg to their neck. 

Try to do these steps in quick succession so that you won’t lose your balance on top. You can finish the shotgun armbar without placing your hip on the mat. This is actually the safer option as you might break their arm if you drop your body like in the regular armbar. If you have to drop down to the mat, ensure that you finish the armlock at an angle so that your leg won’t get in the way.


Shotgun Armbar From Side Control

Side control is another prime position where you can apply the shotgun armbar. Nick “Chewy” Albin explains his way of applying the technique. From side control, unlace their head by placing your elbow to the other side as you block the hip. This should give you the space to move to north-south. 

Notice that when you move to north-south, the opponent’s nearside arm will pop out. Isolate that arm by grabbing near the shoulder (you can also grab the collar if you are in the gi). You can use other submissions to mask the shotgun armbar. Chewy mentions that the paper cutter choke is a nice technique to apply in combination with the shotgun armbar. 

Two things can happen if you attack with the paper cutter choke: you can tap them with the choke, or it opens up the shotgun armbar. To finish the shotgun armbar, lean in and throw your leg near the opponent’s shoulder. Swing your other leg to their head, drop down and extend the arm. 


Just Another Tool In The Toolbox

The shotgun armbar will add an element of unpredictability to your submission game. Remember to drill these setups and apply the technique in a safe and controlled manner. You should be able to catch unsuspecting training partners with these techniques, but surely they’ll catch on. 

Once you experience this, work on slowly using the shotgun armbar in combination with other submissions. The shotgun armbar is a wonderful submission, but at the end of the day, it is just one of the many tools you can apply in your sparring.



We hope that you learned something new from this article. The techniques shown in the videos are demonstrated by experienced instructors. Talk to your coach if you are interested in learning the shotgun armbar. 

The best way to learn new techniques is by first learning the fundamental movements and slowly adding resistance as you go. Drill on both sides and learn the common counters to the submission. After a few months of consistent training, you’ll definitely see improvements to your game. Happy training!


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