A True Story
My last two years of competition, I dislocated a few people’s arms. This isn’t because I got meaner or even all that much better. As you go higher up in level of competition, people are less willing to give up, especially when an international medal is on the line.
About the same time, I started to notice something really odd. The more I got a reputation for being “an arm breaker” the more people I pinned. It made sense when I thought about it. My opponents were focusing so much on not being arm barred, they forgot to defend against being pinned.
On the flip side of that, we have seen competitors who were so focused on executing an arm bar that they completely missed opportunities for a pin that were right in front of them. A major problem these competitors have is that they don’t have that “feel for the mat” we’re always talking about simply because they don’t do enough matwork. They haven’t been in those positions often enough to develop the “spidey sense” of knowing when to react. This drill is one (of many) ways in our book of developing that sense.
The purpose of this drill for the player on top is to practice a combination from pin to arm lock and back again. For the player on the bottom, it is an opportunity to practice escapes.
Begin the drill with one player on her back, arms locked together, as shown. The player on top has her arm through the opponent’s arm, hooked at the elbow.
Now, it would be really great (for the player on top) if she could lock the arm against her body, rotate toward the opponent’s head to rip the arm out, pinch her knees tight, rotated back and apply the straight arm lock as shown. That would be great and if she gets it, fine.
However, if she is here and the opponent is just too strong and she can’t get that arm out, her second option is to sit up and put her right leg behind her, as shown below.
If you can’t get the arm bar, go for the pin. In the pin above, Isabelle (the person on top) has fed the bottom of her opponent’s judo gi jacket into her right hand. With her left hand, she has a grip on her opponent’s jacket.
Another possibility, which is not as tight of a pin, is to have the same pin as above but then adjust to have your right hand hooked back into your opponent’s arm
In this case, it isn’t as strong of a pin but if your opponent turns toward you trying to escape the pin, it is easier to break the arm free and lean back for the arm bar.
The point of this drill is not for the player on top to do a specific pin or to get the arm bar. The point is to win. For the player on the bottom, the goal is to escape. This drill offers the opportunity for the player on the bottom to practice escapes from arm bars as well as escapes from pins.