Omoplata: The Ultimate BJJ Shoulder Lock

Omoplata
Omoplata

History and Anatomy of the Omoplata

The omoplata is a popular and effective BJJ submission. Also called the coil lock in catch wrestling and ashi sankaku garami (“leg triangle entanglement” in Japanese) in judo, the omoplata is a devastating submission in which an attacking student uses his or her legs to extend an opponent’s shoulder joint, or scapula, past its normal range of motion. In fact, this is where the omoplata got its name: omoplata is the Portuguese word for scapula.

omoplata

The omoplata is applied to the shoulder in a manner similar to the Kimura lock. However, the omoplata is applied using the legs, while the Kimura is applied with a figure-four grip of the hands. Although the omoplata has a long history in other arts, it was popularized in the 1990s by BJJ practitioner Nino Schembri.

omoplata
The Omoplata is applied using the legs.
omoplata
The Kimura is applied using the arms.

Overview of the Omoplata

The most popular and effective way to apply the omoplata is from the guard. A BJJ practitioner applies the omoplata from the guard by placing one leg under his or her opponent’s armpit and rotating 180 degrees. When the rotation is complete, the attacking student kicks forward while sitting up, exerting pressure on the opponent’s shoulder. The attacking student completes the omoplata by placing an arm around the opponent’s waist and exerting pressure on the opponent’s shoulder. In addition to being a devastating submission, the omoplata can be used to sweep an opponent and to set up other submissions.

How to Perform the Omoplata

From Closed Guard

As noted above, the omoplata from closed guard is the most popular application of this BJJ submission. In order to apply the omoplata from closed guard, follow these steps:

  1. Break your opponent’s posture using your arms and legs.
  2. Shift your hips in the direction of the shoulder you wish to attack by placing your opposite foot on the opponent’s hip and pushing off slightly.
  3. Underhook your leg on the side you want to attack.
  4. Grip your opponent’s collar with the hand that you used to underhook your leg.
  5. Open your legs, perform a 180-degree rotation, extend your legs outward, and sit up.
  6. Wrap your arm around your opponent’s waist to keep him or her from sitting up or rolling forward.
  7. Point both knees towards your opponent.
  8. Raise your hips off the ground to complete the omoplata.

From the Triangle

Occasionally, when you attempt a triangle choke, your opponent will hide his or her arm to prevent you from finishing the submission. This presents an excellent omoplata opportunity. In order to perform the omoplata from a failed triangle attempt, follow these steps:

  1. Push your opponent’s head away from his or her hidden arm.
  2. Place your foot that is on the side of your opponent’s hidden arm across his or her face.
  3. Perform a 180-degree rotation.
  4. Wrap your arm around your opponent’s waist to keep him or her from sitting up or rolling forward.
  5. Point both knees towards your opponent.
  6. Raise your hips off the ground to complete the omoplata.

Omoplata Sweep

Finally, as noted above, the omoplata isn’t just a great BJJ submission—it can also be used as a powerful sweep. The most common application of this sweep is following a failed omoplata submission attempt. In order to perform the omoplata sweep, follow these steps:

  1. Break your opponent’s posture using your arms and legs.
  2. Shift your hips in the direction of the shoulder you wish to attack by placing your opposite foot on the opponent’s hip and pushing off slightly.
  3. Underhook your leg on the side you want to attack.
  4. Grip your opponent’s collar with the hand that you used to underhook your leg.
  5. Open your legs and perform a 180-degree rotation.
  6. Extend your legs outward while sitting up.
  7. Grip your opponent’s near-side pant leg and trapped arm.
  8. When your opponent postures up, use his or her momentum to perform a backward roll.
  9. When you land on top of your opponent, release the pant grip, and place your hand on the mat by his or her far-side hip.
  10. From this position, you can transition to side control or perform additional submission attempts.

Tips and Tricks

Try it!

This advice applies to all BJJ techniques. In order to get good at this submission, JUST DO IT! It may take you a week, a month, or even a year to hit your first omoplata during live rolling. This doesn’t matter. Just keep trying! Remember, training is all about learning and making adjustments. If you keep trying and learning from your mistakes, you WILL eventually get good at this technique!

Focus on Control

When working on this submission, the first thing you should focus on is controlling your opponent. Often, beginners become so focused on finishing a submission that they forget all about control. With the omoplata, the most important thing to remember is to place your hand around your opponent’s waist following your 180-degree rotation. If you do everything correctly but fail to control your opponent’s waist, he or she will easily be able to avoid the submission. This lesson applies to all BJJ submissions. Remember, BJJ is all about controlling your opponent!

Know Your Opponent’s Defensive Options

In order to be successful with the omoplata (or any BJJ technique), you must understand your opponent’s defensive options. When you attempt this submission, your opponent’s best chance of escape is a forward roll. If your opponent rolls out of your omoplata attempt, you can follow him or her to end up in top position. By understanding how to counter your opponent’s counter (i.e., a forward roll), you can attempt this submission without fear of losing position. Remember, always stay one step ahead of your opponent!

Experiment

You can apply the omoplata from almost any position. Therefore, once you have a good grasp on the fundamentals described above, you should experiment with this technique from different positions and in different scenarios. Remember, experimentation is an excellent way to improve your BJJ. And the more options you have at your disposal, the better!

Believe in the Technique

If you apply any BJJ technique tentatively, you are destined to fail. Therefore, when applying any BJJ technique, you must do so with this belief that it will be successful! If you fail to believe in your techniques, you’ll attempt them hesitantly. This is a recipe for failure. Therefore, when you attempt an omoplata (or any BJJ technique), do so with the belief that it will work. And if it doesn’t, move on to the next technique with the same level of belief!

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