Jiu Jitsu

Omoplata - Shoulder Submission

Omoplata translates to "shoulder blade / scapula" in Portuguese, and in Japanese this move is called "Ashi Sankaku Garami" which describes the triangle shape made by your legs as you attack the arm.

The Omoplata shoulder lock position is popular for many reasons, but we think people like it because of its unique flair and also because its gives athletes an opportunity to transition into a lot of other submissions, like the Triangle (aka Sankaku) or even wrist locks. This can be an effective submission for white belts in the academy, all the way through black belt level competition.

However, the Omoplata position wasn't always this popular though. We consider it a more modern, sport BJJ move because of its intricacy. Classical Jiu Jitsu tended to be a bit more simple and straight to the point, takedown, pass, mount, submit.

Now the game has changed thanks to Omoplata armlock specialists like Clark Gracie, Eddie Bravo (via Rubber Guard), and Bernardo Faria.

In the following article we'll talk about how it works and how to do it in Gi and No-gi scenarios, as well as some helpful tips to execute it in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training and competition.

How does the Omoplata work?

Simply, the Omoplata game works by isolating your partner's arm with your legs, and then attacking the shoulder joint in a way similar to the Kimura Armlock.

This means you're isolating your partner's body and the shoulder joint, and then bringing their arm behind their back until they tap to the pressure.

How to do the Omoplata

  1. when you have your partner in guard, control both sleeves and enter into Lasso Guard (by bringing your leg over their arm and into their armpit)
  2. bring your free foot across the hip to protect it
  3. grab cross collar with your free hand and pull your partner's posture down
  4. the lasso guard hand can let go and grab your opponent's trisep so you can pull your attacking foot through
  5. slide your leg over their back and over their shoulder
  6. switch your hips and leave space so you can full sit into your partner
  7. lift up your hips to complete the shoulder submission
End with your partner flattened and your weight on top of them
End with your partner flattened and your weight on top of them.

Tips for finishing the Omoplata submission

  • make sure you fully flatten your partner down to isolate their shoulder
  • get heavy on your partner - light pressure on their shoulder allows your partner to posture up and avoid the submission
  • make sure to sit up quickly and put your weight on their back, after breaking them down - this prevents the Rolling Omoplata Escape
  • if you get stuck, don't forget to transition into another position or submission
Use grips on the sleeves to get into the Leg Lasso
Use grips on the sleeves to get into the Leg Lasso.

Omoplata in the gi

When wearing a Jiu Jitsu gi, the Omoplata works very nicely because you have lots of ways to break your partner's posture and to keep a nice strong grip.

If you are working from the bottom position, in closed guard, you'll want to start with either a double sleeve grip or a double lapel grip and go through the steps above.

Here are some excellent times to go for the Omoplata in gi Jiu Jitsu:

  • from Lasso Guard (as shown above)
  • when going inverted from Lasso Guard
  • when partner is evading a Triangle Submission
  • when partner shoots for a Single Leg Takedown and you go for a Rolling Omoplata

Omoplata for no-gi grappling

When doing no-gi grappling, things can get a little tougher since you don't have a handy sleeve or lapel to grab. But that doesn't mean that you can't do the Omoplata.

Here are some excellent times to go for the Omoplata in no-gi Jiu Jitsu:

  • if partner is attempting an Over-Under pass, push their head to the side and transition as shown above
  • when you're about to lose the Triangle Submission (just like above)
  • off of a Single Leg attempt (just like above) and you can do a Rolling Omoplata
  • from a Kimura attempt from closed guard

Omoplata from a Triangle Attempt

Imagine this, you've done all that hard work to get into a great Triangle/Sankaku position but your partner is posturing up hard and they're shrugging away from you. You're going to lose the position in moments.

This is the perfect time to salvage the position and go for the Omoplata.

Here's how to transition from a Triangle into the Omoplata:

  • secure their wrist and pin it to your waist
  • unhook your ankles and quickly rotate 90 degrees
  • weigh your partner's shoulder down with your leg
  • use your free leg and arm to push your opponent away and create an angle where you've got their hand trapped to your hip
  • sit up tall and put your weight on your opponent
Use your leg to weigh your partner down as your partner tries to escape the Triangle.
Use your leg to weigh your partner down as your partner tries to escape the Triangle.

How to escape the Omoplata position

The best defense to the Omoplata is to know when it's coming on and to not let your partner flatten you out.

The moment you know your partner is trying to do the Omoplata, you need to either:

  • posture up to a strong position by sitting in a kneeling position and have your head and posture be straight up - this will keep your partner from bending you over enough to apply the shoulder submission
  • roll through so that your arm is no longer trapped behind your back - this looks the same as when you do a forward rolling break fall
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