Shoulder Locks & Stacking (diary entry)



Thursday night’s junior private lesson introduced the omoplata shoulder lock and stacking guard pass.


We warmed up with a wide variety of top and bottom position callisthenic exercises, including bear crawls, lizard crawls, crab crawls, seal crawls, snaking, side-winders, sit-outs, upas, arm-bar leg raises and triangle choke leg raises. Then we went straight into revising escaping to standing from guard, arm-bars from closed guard and triangle choke from closed guard. These last two exercises were then performed as muscle memory repetitions.


We then focused on the omoplata which is Portuguese for scapula. I learnt it when studying Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and kept that description. As the name indicates it targets the shoulder blade, which I have found to be a crucial point to make when teaching its execution. The technique involves using the leg triangle, previously taught in the choke, to trap the shoulder. One leg actually rides up the scapula. Key to its effectiveness is the activation of the core muscles and hip flexors. This should unbalance the opponent as the fighter holds onto the arm trapped between the legs; however, it is not uncommon for an opponent to stand. The technique can work as a sweep and I have personal experience of using it as my humble “get of jail free” card, but its real purpose is in its use as a joint lock. The fighter should get the submission when levering pressure on the shoulder joint with the opponent face down. Nevertheless, the position offers other possible options including a neck crank, a toe-hold and the more popular wrist lock. These are examples of dirty finishers to the move much like pulling the head down in the triangle choke.


We then looked at the stacking guard pass. This is a move that passes under the guard and involves standing up in the guard. By carefully controlling the hips and legs the fighter opens the guard and eventually grips the opponent’s waist from underneath. The next stage involves stacking and turning the opponent into side control.


The lesson was finished with 2 x 5 minute rounds of guard-passing sparring.

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