Although an advanced game involves a lot of chaining of submissions, there are certain submission chains that work well even for beginners. This class starts with an attempted triangle that your opponent defends by successfully posturing up.
Omoplata From Failed Triangle
We’ve all attempted triangles that didn’t go according to plan. There are multiple avenues for backup options, but a good one to practice is to switch to the omoplata. The omoplata tends to be underused by fundamentals students because it can be a little harder to diagnose why your attempts keep getting shut down. Unlike an armbar or triangle attempt, it’s also harder to put your opponent back in your guard, and nobody wants a submission attempt to turn into side control instead of reclaiming guard. Having a robust set of backup options for a failed omoplata will help your confidence in omoplatas and encourage you to do more omoplatas.
Initiating the Omoplata
So you tried a triangle, and your attempts to keep your opponent broken down were not successful. They posture up, and the only way the position resembles a triangle is you have the arm and head inside the remains of your failure. Instead of focusing on the negative, let’s pretend this was just a clever ruse you were using to setup a chance to practice your omoplatas. It’s a plausible story for the blue belts that are watching, and I won’t tell if you won’t.
Notice the initial position in the video. I haven’t given up on aggressively following along with the posture change, and the hips are elevated against the shoulders:
Establish a cross grip — You’re going to need the same side grip for something else in a moment. Next up is some raw aggression. You are going to release the lock and swing your leg against the trapped arm as hard as you can. Your goal is to launch your opponent to the side, and hopefully flatten him out in the process. Go for the mat burn on the nose. Don’t worry, it’s not going to happen. They will catch their fall with their free hand and you’ll still have a fight on your hand. If they don’t catch themselves properly, bad things are indeed possible, but it’s rare.
With an aggressive kick, you’ll tend to turn 90 degrees from your starting position, and your goal is to have your hips fully engaged on your opponent’s shoulder and to have your legs extended as far as possible. This creates the maximum leverage on your opponent, and the kick over also helps you sit up to reinforce the submission attempt.
As you are starting to sit up, tuck the hand you are controlling into the outside of your hip near their body. You’ll hear people refer this as “putting the hand in the pocket”, among other things. As you sit up into your opponents arm, this locks their hand into position and makes it very difficult to withdraw the arm. The other thing you need to be doing as you are sitting up is to get control of your opponents waist. If you don’t, they can roll out of the submission and escape.
Now that you have basic control of your opponent and their shoulder is on the ground, you can release some of the pressure on the shoulder to enable you to swing your feet to the outside. This will change the orientation of your hips and make two things possible. First, you’ll be able to reach across and secure the far shoulder with both hands, If you can’t reach across, it’s likely you haven’t tilted your hips into your opponent enough. Second, swinging your feet around allows you to lean forward to finish the submission.
Since this is a kimura style shoulder lock, be very paranoid about injuring your training partners. If you have achieved a good position to finish the omoplata, you should be able to finish it as slow as you like, and there will be nothing your opponent will be able to do to stop the submission. If you are elevating your hips a lot, it’s a good indication that you should have scooted forward a little before elevating your hips. Just like any other kimura style submission, elevating the elbow towards the shoulder tightens up the shoulder for this orientation and minimizes the amount of motion needed to apply the submission.
Also, make sure you squeeze your knees together This will help reinforce proper attacked arm position and further immobilize your opponent. Some people like to figure 4 their legs by hooking the inside foot inside the outside inner knee. Just like crossing your ankles during the middle stage, I don’t have a reason to discourage this, but I don’t typically execute the finish in this fashion, and see very little reason to do either of these things when you are exercising good leg discipline.
Remember when you are releasing this submission that you should roll backwards to make it easy for your partner to withdraw their arm. This can be a little tricky for beginners to get out of when they feel like their arm has been turned into a pretzel by a cheap “say uncle” submission from a second grade schoolyard bully. You aren’t supposed to be a bully until you are a brown belt.
There are many other details for an omoplata, but in the context of a chained submission class, this is sufficient.
Failure Number Two
Let’s say you tried the triangle, failed, then tried the omoplata, and failed again. By now, the blue belts are starting to think maybe you don’t know what you’re doing and you received all your training from a black belt by the name of Yutoob. Redemption is available.
If your opponent postures up out of the omoplata before you have a chance to get on top of them, you can switch right back to the triangle. The nice thing about this failure option is that it’s can be a stronger triangle setup with a better chance of success.
As your opponent postures up, and you are absolutely sure you are not getting the omoplata, reinforce their motion and release the pressure of your leg on their shoulder. A natural reaction is for your opponent to turn back into you. You are going to take advantage of all of this motion and kick over your biting leg as hard as you can. This will knock your opponent sideways, help you turn 180 degrees, and it will often result in your opponents base being destroyed as they fall onto their side. The video above demonstrates this well. It’s a very efficient motion where I wasn’t even trying to knock my ukes off their base, but it happened repeatedly.
The nice thing about this submission chain is each step gets more violent than the last one, which makes it increasingly hard for your opponent to keep up with defense. Just look at the difference between the first and second triangle attempt. Even if they defend the second triangle attempt, the swaying back and forth can give you another opportunity for the omoplata. Treat each submission attempt with the intent to make it the last one, and only transition when you are sure you can’t finish what you are working on. By keeping the sequence on your timing, your opponent is forced into constant defense mode and you keep control of the match.