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How to Do an Arm Bar in Wrestling

The arm bar is one of the most effective turns used in folkstyle wrestling. All wrestlers should know how to perform this basic, yet powerful, technique, and this step-by-step guide will instruct you on how to do just that.

1. Break Your Opponent Flat

Before you can begin to turn your opponent with the arm bar, you must first break him down from his base. Performing an arm bar on your opponent before he is broken down will put you in danger of being reversed.

You can use any kind of breakdown to get him flat; however, the arm chop breakdown will allow you to quickly gain control of his arm. For more information on the arm chop, check out iSport’s guide, The Arm Chop Breakdown in Wrestling.

2. Control the Arm

Next, you will need to gain control of the opponent’s arm that you want to perform the arm bar on. Do this by using your near-side arm to slide under the arm you’re attacking. For example, if you want to perform the arm bar on your opponent’s left arm, use your left arm.

Hot Tip: From the Arm Chop When using the arm chop to break your opponent down, chop the arm that you want to perform the arm bar on. For example, if you want your opponent’s left arm for the arm bar, do the arm chop on his left arm.

From the outside of your opponent’s arm, slide your arm underneath his elbow. Reach your arm as far as you can underneath his arm until the bend of his elbow is secured in the bend of yours. Make a fist with this arm’s hand, and place your first fist palm-down against your opponent’s mid-back.

You should be straddling your opponent’s near-side leg as you do this. Also, make sure to use your chest to keep constant pressure on your opponent’s upper-back.

3. Grab the Far Wrist

Once you have the arm bar secured, you can then take control of your opponent’s far wrist. Doing so will help you control his body so you can pin him. With your free arm, reach underneath his armpit and grasp his free wrist with an over-handed grip. For example, if you are performing the arm bar on your opponent’s left arm, use your right arm to reach underneath his right armpit to control his right wrist.

Pull his wrist in towards his midsection, and pinch your elbow in towards your ribcage to keep his wrist secured. Also, make sure to stay on your toes to keep pressure on your opponent in this position.

4. Jump Off & Drive Forward

Move off of your opponent’s body and towards the arm you are performing the arm bar on. For example, if you are performing the arm bar on your opponent’s left arm, jump off of his body and position yourself on the left side of his. Do this by pressing your near-side hip down towards the mat (in this example, it would be your right hip), and then circling your legs towards his head.

Stay on your toes as you drive forward. Use the arm you’re performing the arm bar with to press his shoulder to his ear. Keep your hips low to the mat in order to generate the most power when driving your legs.

5. Drop Levels & Pin

Because this position is uncomfortable for your opponent, it is likely that he will turn his body slightly towards you as you drive. This is the perfect position for you to turn him to his back and pin him.

Lower your body so you can use your chest to make contact with his (it is okay if you need to drop to your knees briefly to do so). Stay low, with your hips close to the mat, and drive forward until you have teed up with him. In other words, drive forward until you can position your body perpendicular to his, chest-to-chest.

As you drive forward, use the arm that you are performing the arm bar with to “pinch” your opponent’s forearm between your forearm and bicep. This will allow you to use your arm/shoulder to press his far shoulder to the mat. Also, be sure to keep his other arm’s wrist tight to his body.

Master the Pin

You should now have a much better idea of how to perform the basic arm bar. Make sure to drill this move during practice regularly to ensure that you have what it takes to use it in competition. And don’t forget to work on this move from both sides of the body. If you can do this, you will undoubtedly become a master of the pin using this move! Good luck!

If you're a folkstyle wrestler, you need to know the arm bar. This step-by-step guide will teach you the basics of this powerful pinning technique.
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