March 21, 2024

BJJ Takedowns - The armdrag just isn't enough anymore

Mastering the Art of BJJ Takedowns: Beyond the Arm Drag

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) is a martial art that emphasizes ground fighting and grappling. One of the fundamental techniques in BJJ is the arm drag, a maneuver that can set up various takedowns, control positions, and submissions. However, as the sport evolves, simply knowing the arm drag is not enough. This blog post delves into the nuances of executing the arm drag effectively and how to counter common defenses like the red drag.

Understanding the Arm Drag in BJJ

The arm drag is more than just pulling your opponent’s arm across their body. It involves a series of technical steps that, when executed correctly, can significantly improve your grappling game. Here’s how to perform an arm drag with precision:

  1. Initiate with a Seat Belt Grip: Begin by establishing a seat belt grip, where one hand is over your opponent's shoulder and the other under their arm, securing a firm hold on their wrist or triceps.
  2. Step and Pull: As you pull your opponent towards you, step to the outside to create an angle. This movement is crucial as it prevents your opponent from applying pressure against you effectively.
  3. Close the Gap: Glue your body to your opponent’s side to maintain control and limit their ability to counter. Your head should be in a position to look in the same direction as them, which helps in anticipating their movements.
  4. Anticipate the Counter: A common counter to the arm drag is the red drag, where your opponent tries to reverse the movement. To counter this, dominate the center line by stepping outside and lowering your head, making it difficult for them to execute the red drag effectively.

Dealing with the Red Drag Counter

The red drag is a reactionary technique used by opponents to counter an arm drag. To effectively neutralize this counter, follow these strategies:

  1. Maintain Dominant Head Position: Keep your head in a strategic position, either by placing your chin into the opponent's shoulder or by dropping your ear to their chest, to prevent them from gaining leverage.
  2. Adjust Your Body Mechanics: Instead of pulling the opponent towards you, think of the arm drag as closing the distance between you and your opponent. This approach helps in maintaining balance and control.
  3. Use the Opponent’s Movement to Your Advantage: If the opponent attempts a red drag, use their momentum to execute a counter-move. This could involve transitioning to a more dominant position or setting up a submission.

Training Tips for Effective Arm Drags

Practicing the arm drag requires more than just physical execution; it also involves understanding the mechanics and timing of the move. Here are some tips to improve your arm drag technique:

  1. Drill Slowly and Deliberately: Speed is not as important as accuracy in the early stages of learning. Focus on the mechanics of the move and ensure each step is executed correctly.
  2. Work on Your Posture and Balance: Proper posture and balance are crucial in BJJ. Avoid bending your spine excessively and keep your hips aligned under your chest to maintain a strong base.
  3. Anticipate and Adapt: Be ready to adapt your technique based on your opponent’s reactions. BJJ is like a physical chess game; staying one step ahead can lead to successful outcomes.


The arm drag is a fundamental technique in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that can lead to dominant positions and successful submissions. However, mastering the arm drag and its counters, such as the red drag, requires a deep understanding of the technique, proper execution, and the ability to adapt to your opponent’s movements. By focusing on the details and practicing diligently, you can enhance your BJJ game and become more effective in your takedowns and control on the mat.

Incorporating these insights into your training regimen will not only improve your arm drag technique but also deepen your overall understanding of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. As you continue to refine your skills, remember that the journey in BJJ is as rewarding as the destination, and each technique mastered is a step forward in your martial arts journey.

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