Black belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) in traditional gis demonstrate the Omoplata Submission


This submission is rarely seen in the lower belts of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but once mastered, it is a very
versatile attack. The omoplata (pronounced Oh-Moe-Plah-Tah) is both fun to say and fun to do. It is a form of shoulder lock and is basically a no-hands Kimura from Top. It can be more demoralizing for the defender than the Kimura is because the defender is pressed face-down into the mat when being attacked with the Omoplata, compared to being face-up like in the Kimura. Omoplata is typically achieved from the the Full Guard position, though if the attacker has active hips then it can be achieved from almost any position. From a positional point of view, it is closely related to the Triangle and Armbar submissions. A failed Omoplata can easily be transitioned to an Armbar or Triangle, and often a failed Triangle or Armbar can be recovered to the Omoplata.

Important details for the attacker:
  1. Control the hip. When transitioning into the Omoplata, you must throw your arm over the defender’s hip as early as possible in order to prevent the defender from rolling out of the attack. Failure to do this will almost always result in the defender escaping the Omoplata position. The good news is that they typically roll into Side Mount, which is a great control position for the attacker.
  2. “S” your legs. Many new BJJ practitioners have trouble with their leg positioning in the Omoplata. As you can see from the image, the attacker is niether sitting cross-legged nor do they have a foot planted flat on the mat. Viewed from the top, the legs are in the shape of an “S”, which allows the maximum amount of weight to be on the shoulder joint and the best foundation to prevent the defender from affecting the attacker’s balance.
  3. Finish with the hips. Many people instinctively want to lean their body weight forward to rotate the defender’s arm. This is not a good practice because it will allow the defender the opportunity to lift their hips, relieving the pressure in their shoulder. In the worst-case scenario, the defender will be granted the freedom to roll and completely escape the Omoplata (see Detail 1). Instead, the attacker should 1) keep their weight shifted slightly backwards towards the defender’s hips to prevent the defender from elevating them and 2) elevate their own hips, pressing them forward against the defender’s arm. When the attacker presses forward with their hips instead of upper body, they are pressing the shoulder harder into the mat while also getting a more efficient shoulder rotation.
  4. Break the defender down by scooting away from them. This seems counter-intuitive, but often the defender will be using their free hand to push against the mat and keep a stronger posture. If the attacker has good control on the other arm, they can scoot away from the defender, which will cause the other arm to collapse. Once collapsed, the rest of the submission is much easier.
Important details for the defender:
  1. Roll! The first thing to do when being hit with this submission is to roll forward over your shoulders as soon as you recognize you are in danger. It’s best if you can turn towards the attacker while rolling so that you can land with them in your Full Guard, but even if you can’t and you land in Side Mount, you still have better chances there than in dealing with the Omoplata.
  2. Bury your arm. Again, as soon as you recognize you are being attacked with the Omoplata, try to protect that arm by grabbing the front of your gi anywhere you can. If you can grab your belt near your bellybutton or grab your pants near the inside of your thigh, that arm will be significantly harder to manipulate.
  3. Step and sit back. If you are able to get your hand on your thigh as recommended in Detail 2, you may be able to step forward with the leg that is farthest from the attacker and use this as an anchor to elevate your upper body and sit back, pushing the attacker backwards. Because you will have their leg trapped between your arm and body, the attacker will usually end up flat on their own back with your weight pushing their leg towards their chest. From here you can easily transition to a dominant top position.