Introduction To The Fujiwara Armbar In BJJ

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a martial art renowned for its intricate grappling techniques and emphasis on ground fighting, offers a diverse arsenal for the modern practitioner. Among these myriad techniques is the Fujiwara armbar, an unorthodox yet effective armbar variation for controlling and submitting opponents. This technique, while as effective as the traditional armbar, presents unique tactical advantages when mastered. In this article, we delve into the mechanics of the Fujiwara armbar, discussing its underlying concepts, application, and strategic value in Jiu-Jitsu.


What Is The Fujiwara Armbar?

The Fujiwara armbar, a submission made famous by Japanese pro wrestler and grappler Yoshiaki Fujiwara, is a joint lock that primarily targets the opponent’s elbow. Yoshiaki Fujiwara is a legend in the Japanese circuit and is known for his unapologetic style of grappling. The Fujiwara armbar is a type of reverse armlock that applies pressure to a downward-facing opponent. What sets it apart from the traditional armbar is its adaptability. While the traditional armbar is typically executed from positions like the mount or guard, the Fujiwara armbar can be executed from various positions, including but not limited to, side control, standing, and during transitions. Not only is the Fujiwara armbar a formidable submission that can tap even large opponents but it can also be used as a controlling technique, as you can use your body weight to put pressure against the opponent’s shoulders and elbow, thus limiting the opponent’s ability to stand back up. This versatility makes it a formidable tool in the hands of a skilled user.

While not as commonly used in BJJ, the Fujiwara armbar is a staple in catch wrestling, a grappling style focusing on pinning and hard-hitting submissions. It is a submission that is useful when used as a part of a submission chain, making it a must-learn for submission hunters worldwide.  Many grappling starts of yesterday and today have used the Fujiwara armbar to great effect. Aside from Yoshiaki Fujiwara, as mentioned earlier, other grappling greats like Josh Barnett and Erik Paulson are big believers in the technique and frequently show it in their demonstrations. Josh and Erik are both knowledgeable in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and catch wrestling, and they are by far some of the most respected coaches in the game.


Fujiwara Armbar Tips

The key to executing a successful Fujiwara armbar lies in the practitioner’s ability to isolate and control the opponent’s arm while effectively applying pressure to the elbow joint. The technique begins with the practitioner securing the opponent’s wrist, and then positioning their arm so that the elbow joint is exposed and vulnerable. The practitioner then uses their body to apply pressure against the opponent’s extended arm, specifically targeting the elbow. This pressure is typically applied by maneuvering the hips or by using the legs to force the opponent’s arm into an unnatural angle, leading to a submission due to the intense strain on the elbow joint. Do not hesitate to use your bodyweight to apply pressure against the opponent’s arm. The Fujiwara armbar relies on top pressure to be effective.

As we mentioned above, one of the key benefits of the Fujiwara armbar is that it can be used as a submission technique and a controlling mechanism. It can be applied during transitions or from positions where the opponent might not expect an armbar attempt. For example, a practitioner can transition from side control into the Fujiwara armbar by first securing the arm and then applying the lock as they move their body into the correct position to exert pressure. Also, the Fujiwara armbar can be a powerful counter to an opponent’s attempt to escape or when they are focused on defending against other submissions.

One of the most strategic aspects of the Fujiwara armbar is its ability to be applied both in Gi and No-Gi scenarios, making it a versatile technique for all BJJ practitioners. Whether in training or competition, understanding how to execute and defend against the Fujiwara armbar adds depth to a practitioner’s submission game.


Training The Fujiwara Armbar

Mastering the Fujiwara armbar requires patience, practice, and a deep understanding of arm mechanics. Practitioners should focus on drilling the technique from various positions to become comfortable with the movements and to understand the mechanics behind the submission. It is also crucial to practice the technique with partners of different sizes and skill levels to adapt the execution accordingly. Start by drilling the actual submission slowly, focusing on the gripping mechanics. Next, include typical entries to the position and incrementally add counters and basic reactions as you become more experienced. Once you become adept in its primary application, you can then use the technique in live sparring. Remember to ask your coach and training partners for feedback as you study the submission. Doing this will only make you better in the long run.

Safety should always be a priority when practicing submissions, especially those that apply intense pressure to joints. Practitioners should apply the Fujiwara armbar slowly and give their training partners ample time to react and tap accordingly. Learning the signs of a properly applied armbar and respecting the tap will ensure a safe and productive training environment for everyone involved. Never crank the submission; always focus on using just enough force as needed.



The Fujiwara armbar is more than just a submission; it is a testament to the adaptability and fluidity of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. By mastering this technique, practitioners can enhance their ability to control opponents and secure submissions from a variety of positions. The Fujiwara armbar exemplifies the art of using an opponent’s strength and movements against them, reinforcing the idea that in BJJ, technique and intelligence reign supreme.

As with any technique in BJJ, the journey to mastery is ongoing. The Fujiwara armbar, with its unique mechanics and strategic applications, is a valuable addition to any practitioner’s toolkit. Through dedicated practice, study, and application, this submission can become a vital component of a versatile and effective grappling game, showcasing the practitioner’s understanding and execution of the art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.


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