Beyond the Basics: Advanced Shoulder Lock Variations for Seasoned Fighters

November 29, 2023
From: Spartacus
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Welcome to the thrilling and intricate world of advanced shoulder locks, where skill, strategy, and subtlety converge to form an art within combat sports. In the diverse arsenal of a seasoned fighter, shoulder locks stand out for their effectiveness in controlling and submitting an opponent. These maneuvers, rooted deeply in the traditions of martial arts, have evolved into a sophisticated science, practiced and perfected in dojos and rings worldwide.

We delve into the realm of advanced shoulder lock variations. These are not your basic arm twists; each technique we’re about to explore embodies the peak of grappling ingenuity, demanding precision, strength, and an astute understanding of human biomechanics. Prepare to unlock the secrets of these advanced techniques that can make the difference between victory and defeat in the high-stakes world of competitive fighting.

The Anatomy of a Shoulder Lock

Understanding the mechanics and anatomy involved in executing a shoulder lock is crucial for any practitioner in the realm of combat sports. A shoulder lock, at its core, is a technique that primarily targets the shoulder joint, but its effectiveness and safety hinge on a deep understanding of the joint movements and the surrounding structures.

The shoulder joint, or glenohumeral joint, is a ball-and-socket joint comprising the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) and the glenoid fossa of the scapula (shoulder blade). This joint is known for its wide range of motion, the largest of any joint in the human body, allowing movements in multiple planes. However, this mobility also makes it vulnerable to injuries, especially when excessive force or leverage is applied, as is often the case in shoulder locks.

Executing a shoulder lock typically involves manipulating the arm in such a way that it leverages against the shoulder joint. This can mean rotating the humerus, elevating the arm, or applying a combination of movements that stretch or compress the joint structures, including ligaments and tendons. The aim is to create a controlled and painful sensation in the shoulder, compelling an opponent to submit, while being mindful not to cause actual injury.

A critical aspect of this is understanding the limits of joint movements. Every individual’s joint has a different range of motion, and recognizing these limits is key to applying a shoulder lock effectively and safely. Overextending or forcing the joint beyond its natural limits can lead to strains, sprains, or even severe injuries like dislocations and fractures.

Additionally, the muscles surrounding the shoulder, including the deltoids, rotator cuff muscles, biceps, and triceps, play significant roles in stabilizing and moving the joint. A skilled practitioner will know how to maneuver these muscles into positions that weaken their ability to resist, making the shoulder lock more effective.

Dive into detailed descriptions of several advanced shoulder lock variations and Include step-by-step guides and tips for perfecting each technique.

Next, we delve into Advanced Shoulder Lock Variations tailored for Seasoned Fighters:

Kimura Trap from Half Guard



The Kimura Trap from Half Guard is a sophisticated grappling maneuver that requires meticulous technique and timing. It combines the security of the half guard with the offensive potential of the Kimura grip.

Step-by-step Guide

  • Step 1: Initiating the Position: Start by securing a tight half guard, ensuring your legs are effectively controlling one of your opponent’s legs. Your focus should be on preventing them from achieving a dominant posture or escape.
  • Step 2: Securing the Grip: With a careful shift of your upper body, reach for your opponent’s far arm and establish a firm Kimura grip—where your hands interlock as you hold their wrist with one hand and your other hand goes around their arm to grip your own wrist.
  • Step 3: Execution and Control: Once the grip is secure, the real challenge is in manipulating your opponent’s arm and body to prevent them from countering. Use your legs and torso to create angles that expose their arm, and apply steady pressure.
  • Step 4: Transition to Submission: From here, you can execute a series of maneuvers. These include sweeping your opponent to gain a top position or transitioning to a full Kimura submission. The key is to maintain the grip and control throughout the movement.

Practice transitioning from half guard to the Kimura grip with a training partner. Focus on fluidity and controlling your opponent’s posture. Drills that enhance your grip strength and flexibility are also beneficial.

Omoplata from Spider Guard



The Omoplata from Spider Guard is an advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu technique that blends the controlling aspects of the spider guard with the offensive capability of the omoplata shoulder lock. It’s a technique that demands precision, flexibility, and a good understanding of guard manipulation.

Step-by-step Guide

  • Step 1: Setting up the Spider Guard: Begin in the spider guard, a position where you control your opponent’s arms with your hands while using your feet on their biceps. This guard offers great control over your opponent’s movements and posture.
  • Step 2: Initiating the Omoplata: Choose one of your opponent’s arms to attack. Using the leg on the same side, shift your foot from their bicep and swing it over their shoulder. This is a critical movement that requires flexibility and timing.
  • Step 3: Securing the Position: As your leg swings over, ensure that your shin is resting across the back of your opponent’s neck, with your knee pointing downwards. Simultaneously, use your other foot to push against their opposite bicep to prevent them from standing or posturing up.
  • Step 4: Completing the Lock: Rotate your body away from your opponent, aiming to sit up while keeping your leg over their shoulder. This motion applies pressure on their shoulder joint, leading into the omoplata lock.
  • Step 5: Finishing the Submission: To finish, extend your hips while pulling their arm towards you, increasing the pressure on the shoulder joint. Ensure that your legs are squeezing tightly and your hand is gripping their waist to prevent them from rolling out or escaping.

Regularly practice transitioning from spider guard to the omoplata. Include flexibility drills to improve your ability to swing your leg over the opponent’s shoulder. Work on core strength exercises as well, as a strong core is essential for the rotation and sit-up motions required in this technique.

Reverse Omoplata



The Reverse Omoplata is an innovative and less conventional shoulder lock, typically applied from an inverted position. This technique can catch an opponent off guard due to its unusual angle and approach. It requires flexibility, timing, and a good understanding of body mechanics.

Step-by-step Guide

  • Step 1: Starting Position: Initiate this move when you are in an inverted guard or during a scramble where you find yourself underneath and upside down relative to your opponent.
  • Step 2: Securing the Arm: As you invert, aim to catch one of your opponent’s arms between your legs, ideally at the elbow joint. You must control this arm tightly, as it’s the lever for the submission.
  • Step 3: Setting Up the Lock: With the arm secured, use your legs to rotate and twist your opponent’s arm, applying pressure on their shoulder. Your body will be in a somewhat twisted and inverted position during this phase, so maintaining control is crucial.
  • Step 4: Applying the Submission: To apply the lock, extend your hips upwards while continuing to twist and pressure the arm with your legs. This motion applies a surprising amount of pressure on the shoulder joint.
  • Step 5: Finishing the Technique: Keep rotating your legs while pushing your hips up, which increases the torque on the shoulder joint. Be prepared for quick taps, as the submission can come on rapidly and is often unexpected.

Due to the complexity of the position, it’s important to practice getting into the inverted guard and transitioning into the reverse omoplata. Work on your flexibility, particularly in your hips and back, to enable smoother inversions. Include drills that improve your control and precision while inverting, as this will be key to catching the arm and setting up the lock effectively. Given the unconventional nature of this submission and the potential for injury, practice this technique with care and always be mindful of your training partner’s safety.




The Monoplata, a nuanced variation of the omoplata, uses a different leg positioning to apply pressure on the shoulder, often executed from a mounted or side control position. This technique is both deceptive and effective, requiring good body positioning and control.

Step-by-step Guide

  • Step 1: Starting Position: Ideally, begin from the mount or side control. It’s crucial to have solid control over your opponent’s upper body to initiate this move.
  • Step 2: Securing the Arm: Isolate one of your opponent’s arms. Your goal is to get their arm bent at a right angle, with their hand trapped near their own waist.
  • Step 3: Applying the Lock: Swing your leg (closest to your opponent’s head in side control or the mount) over their shoulder and across their back, pinning their trapped arm with your calf.
  • Step 4: Finalizing the Position: Shift your weight and position to ensure that your thigh is pressing down on their shoulder while your calf and heel are leveraging against their trapped arm.
  • Step 5: Executing the Submission: Apply downward pressure with your leg while simultaneously elevating their elbow, creating a twisting force on the shoulder joint. Balance is key; too much weight forward can result in losing position.

Focus on transitioning smoothly from the mount or side control into the Monoplata position. Work on the fluidity of swinging your leg over while maintaining control. Drills involving transitioning between these positions can be beneficial.




The Baratoplata is a shoulder lock characterized by its use of a leg configuration similar to that of a triangle choke. It’s a versatile technique applied from guard positions, leveraging the leg and hip to exert pressure on the opponent’s shoulder.

Step-by-step Guide

  • Step 1: Starting Position: Begin in a guard position with control over one of your opponent’s arms. It’s vital to isolate the arm and break your opponent’s posture.
  • Step 2: Securing the Arm: Lure the opponent’s arm across your body, similar to the setup for a triangle choke. Keep their arm bent at the elbow, with their hand near your hip.
  • Step 3: Leg Configuration: Swing your leg (the one on the same side as the trapped arm) over your opponent’s shoulder and under their arm. Your calf should be resting on their back, with your foot hooked around their far arm or body for control.
  • Step 4: Executing the Lock: Use your other leg to apply pressure on the trapped arm by pushing against your ankle or calf. Simultaneously, pull down on their arm using your hands, creating a leverage point against their shoulder.
  • Step 5: Finalizing the Submission: Adjust your hips and leg pressure to maximize the torque on the shoulder joint. The submission is achieved through the combined pressure of your legs and arms, twisting and extending the opponent’s shoulder.

Work on the smooth transition from guard to the leg configuration. Focus on breaking the opponent’s posture and controlling the arm throughout the transition. Regular drilling from guard to Baratoplata will enhance fluidity and timing.




The Tarikoplata is a modern and innovative shoulder lock that blends elements of the Kimura and omoplata. It can be applied from various positions, including guard and side control, making it a versatile addition to your grappling arsenal.

Step-by-step Guide

  • Step 1: Starting Position: You can initiate this from various positions such as the closed guard, open guard, or side control. Key is to gain control over one of your opponent’s arms.
  • Step 2: Arm Control: Similar to setting up a Kimura, grip your opponent’s wrist and use your other hand to secure your own wrist, creating a figure-four grip on their arm.
  • Step 3: Leg Usage: The unique aspect of the Tarikoplata is swinging your leg over their arm and shoulder (the leg closest to their head in side control or from the guard). This leg action is akin to setting up an omoplata.
  • Step 4: Securing the Position: Once your leg is over their shoulder, adjust your position to trap their arm between your leg and torso. The positioning is similar to an omoplata but with the added control of the Kimura grip.
  • Step 5: Applying the Submission: With the Kimura grip still in place, extend your hips while pulling their arm towards you, applying pressure on their shoulder. The combination of the leg pressure and the Kimura grip creates a powerful locking mechanism.

The Tarikoplata requires flexibility and agility, especially in the legs and hips. Regular flexibility training can aid in executing this technique. Practice transitioning from different positions into the Tarikoplata setup, focusing on the fluidity and efficiency of your movements.

Arm Crush from Turtle Position



The Arm Crush from Turtle Position is a submission technique that targets the shoulder by trapping the arm while the opponent is in a defensive turtle position.

Step-by-step Guide

  • Step 1: Approaching the Turtle: When your opponent is in the turtle position (on their hands and knees), approach from the side. Your goal is to isolate one of their arms.
  • Step 2: Trapping the Arm: Use your nearest arm to reach under their body and grab the wrist of their opposite arm. Pull this arm across their back, immobilizing it.
  • Step 3: Applying Pressure: Position your body over the back of your opponent, using your weight to pin them down. Your legs should be positioned to prevent them from escaping the turtle position.
  • Step 4: Executing the Arm Crush: With their arm trapped and your weight on them, apply pressure by driving your shoulder or chest into the back of their trapped arm. This creates a leverage point against the shoulder joint.
  • Step 5: Securing the Submission: Adjust your weight distribution and leverage to intensify the pressure on the shoulder. The submission is achieved by compressing the shoulder joint using body weight and the trapped arm as a fulcrum.

Focus on controlling your opponent’s body and isolating the arm securely. Gradually apply pressure to understand the mechanics of the submission. Consistent practice from the turtle position will improve your ability to identify opportunities for the Arm Crush.

Shoulder Lock from North-South Position



The Shoulder Lock from the North-South Position is a submission technique that utilizes superior positioning to isolate an opponent’s arm and apply a shoulder lock. This technique is particularly effective due to the control it offers over the opponent.

Step-by-step Guide

  • Step 1: Securing North-South Position: Begin by obtaining the north-south position, where you are positioned above your opponent, perpendicular to them. Your head should be near their head, and you should maintain good control over their upper body.
  • Step 2: Isolating the Arm: From this position, focus on one of your opponent’s arms. Use your arms to isolate and control their arm, ensuring they can’t use it to defend or escape.
  • Step 3: Applying the Shoulder Lock: With their arm isolated, you can now transition to the shoulder lock. Clasp your hands together and use your body weight and leverage to apply pressure on their shoulder joint. This can be done by torquing the arm or applying downward pressure.
  • Step 4: Finishing the Submission: Ensure that your body position prevents your opponent from rolling out or escaping. Increase the pressure gradually until the opponent taps out.

Pay attention to controlling the opponent’s body throughout the process. Work on smooth transitions from the north-south position to isolating the arm. Practice applying pressure without overextending to avoid losing control.


In the high-stakes arena of combat sports, mastering advanced shoulder locks is not just a skill – it’s an essential weapon in any seasoned fighter’s arsenal. These techniques, when executed with precision and understanding, can dramatically shift the tide of a bout, showcasing both technical prowess and strategic acumen.


What are the key benefits of incorporating advanced shoulder locks into a fighter’s arsenal?

Incorporating advanced shoulder locks offers a fighter several benefits. These techniques are often unpredictable, catching opponents off-guard. They provide a significant control over the opponent’s movement, allowing the fighter to dictate the pace and flow of the match. Additionally, their versatility means they can be applied from various positions, increasing a fighter’s adaptability in different scenarios.

How does the Kimura Trap from Half Guard differ from a traditional Kimura?

The Kimura Trap from Half Guard is a more sophisticated version of the traditional Kimura. While the basic Kimura is typically a submission attempt, the Kimura Trap system focuses on control and transitions. From the half guard, a fighter uses the Kimura grip not just to submit but to create openings, sweep, or transition to more dominant positions. It’s a strategic tool rather than just a submission technique.

What are the steps to effectively execute an Omoplata from Spider Guard?

To execute an Omoplata from Spider Guard, a fighter needs to maintain control with their legs and grip. Firstly, the fighter in the spider guard uses their legs to control the opponent’s arms while gripping the sleeves. They then shift their hip to the side, placing one leg underneath the opponent’s arm. By swinging the other leg over the opponent’s shoulder and securing it in place, the fighter can roll their opponent over, ending in a position to apply the Omoplata shoulder lock.

What is a Reverse Omoplata, and in what scenarios is it most effective?

The Reverse Omoplata is a unique and less common shoulder lock applied from an inverted position. It’s most effective when the opponent is unaware or unprepared for such a move, making it ideal in scrambling situations. The key is for the practitioner to invert under the opponent’s arm, securing it in a way that allows for the application of pressure to the shoulder joint in a reversed manner.

How do you set up a Monoplata, and what distinguishes it from an Omoplata?

To set up a Monoplata, the practitioner generally starts from a mounted or side control position. The key difference from an Omoplata is in the leg configuration and pressure application. In a Monoplata, the practitioner uses one leg to trap the opponent’s arm while pivoting to apply pressure on the shoulder. The position and mechanics create a unique leverage, focusing on the shoulder joint more directly than the Omoplata.

What are the mechanics of executing a Baratoplata from guard position?

The Baratoplata is initiated from a guard position, similar to setting up a triangle choke. The practitioner secures one of the opponent’s arms between their neck and shoulder, then uses their legs to create leverage. By positioning the legs similar to a triangle, the practitioner twists and extends their body to apply pressure on the trapped shoulder, effectively executing the shoulder lock.

How does a Tarikoplata differ from other shoulder lock variations?

The Tarikoplata is a blend of Kimura and Omoplata elements. It can be applied from various positions, including the guard and side control. Its uniqueness lies in the way the practitioner traps the opponent’s arm and uses their own body and limbs to create a locking mechanism. This variation provides an element of surprise and can be highly effective against opponents not familiar with it.

What are the key techniques for transitioning from a Flying Scissor to a Kimura?

Transitioning from a Flying Scissor to a Kimura involves a dynamic entry. After executing the flying scissor takedown, the practitioner quickly secures the opponent’s arm, ensuring it’s bent at a right angle. They then apply the Kimura grip and use their body position and leverage to intensify the lock. Speed and fluidity are crucial in this transition to maintain control and prevent escape.

How is a Shoulder Lock applied from the North-South Position?

From the North-South position, the practitioner is above the opponent. They isolate one of the opponent’s arms, securing it with their own arms and body. The practitioner then applies pressure to the shoulder joint by lifting and turning the isolated arm, often using their body weight to increase the effectiveness of the lock. This position offers significant control and makes it challenging for the opponent to defend against the lock.

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