4 BJJ Submissions From Spider Guard

Watch any Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) tournament and you are bound to see the spider guard in action. That’s because it’s versatile, energy-efficient, and deadly. The crux of the spider guard is the pressure it applies to an opponent’s biceps using a practitioner’s much stronger legs. The simplicity with which the spider guard derives its control is why you will find it incorporated into other forms of open guard and applied by BJJ players from all weight categories.

Spider guard is one of the most versatile and secure positions in open guard. Preferred by longer limbed athletes such as Nicholas Meregali, Leandro Lo, and Romulo Barral, it utilizes grips on your opponent’s wrists or sleeves with one foot controlling at least one of his/her arms. To control the arm, you will use the sole of your foot, pushing against your opponent’s biceps. The other foot usually hooks the arm or can also be used to step on the biceps for control as well. You can also use the other foot to step on your opponent’s hip.

This control over an opponent’s upper body is also what makes the spider guard especially dangerous. A prerequisite to many upper body submissions (triangle, armbar, omoplata) is first separating an opponent’s elbows from his or her torso. Because you are already manipulating your opponents’ elbows when using the spider guard, simply applying the guard inherently brings you a step closer to finishing.

Here are are some common submissions from spider guard (and spider guard variations) that let you harness its power!

1) Armbar From Spider Guard

Use the spider to swivel your body so it is almost perpendicular to your opponent’s body, break his grip on your far pant leg, pull his sleeve right on to your rib, swing your free leg over his head to secure the armbar. In this clip, you’ll see how Michael Langhi, famous for his impassable guard, uses his spider guard to get the armbar. To get the armbar, you can set it up from a sweep attempt. A failed sweep will usually lead to a submission series, which you can start off with a triangle.


2) Triangle From Spider Guard


Flare one of your opponent’s elbows, step on his hip with your other foot, kick your spider leg over his neck (using your foot on his hip to lift your hips up), secure the triangle. Another common entry is to first attempt the basic spider sweep (often used by Keenan Cornelius and Romulo Barral) then shoot for the triangle when your opponent posts his foot to defend it. The triangle from the spider guard is a submission most spider guard enthusiasts attempt first and usually follow with an armbar.


3) Omoplata 

This starts with a slight variation to the spider guard. Instead of having spider grips on both of your opponent’s arms, have one spider and one lasso. Begin by flaring your opponent’s elbow on the spider side, release your hand from the spider and switch it to his collar (same side as the lasso) but still apply pressure with your foot on his bicep, kick your lasso leg through and enter the omoplata position. The mistake most students often make is that they do not aim for the shoulder blade when executing the omoplata, which results in a shallow omoplata that almost anyone can muscle their way out of. When you go for the omoplata, make sure you aim for the shoulder blade and keep your opponent’s arm close to your body. Doing so ensures less risk of your opponent escaping from the submission.


4) Knee Bar

A knee bar entry made famous by four-time BJJ World Champion Braulio Estima begins with the basic spider guard sweep. As your opponent posts his leg to counter, swivel under him while catching his leg in the process. Anyone who has followed Estima’s career knows that he has one of the most offensive games in the sport, always looking for a submission finish. This submission is ideal in a self-defense situation because it removes your opponent’s ability to move. Be warned though, when attempting this submission in class – it is only applicable for purple belts and higher.


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