Riz's Martial Arts Training

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The Arm Drag

The Arm Drag is a ridiculously simple move, so simple that I don't even like thinking of it as a technique in itself! To perform it, you just need to grab, pull and guide your opponent's leading/attacking arm (yes, with more finesse than I've described it). It works on the age-old martial arts concept of using your opponent's size, weight and momentum against them. That is, when your opponent's momentum is advancing forward (or alternatively, his posture is such that his size and weight are pushing his body forward), you grab and guide him in the direction he was already moving (often pulling him off-balance). Depending on the scenario, the move can be performed with explosive force or with gentle, well-timed grace. Here's Marcello Garcia showing you how it works:

Long & Short

Personally, I like the break the arm drag down into two categories: The Long Drag, and the Short Drag. A long drag involves you gripping your opponent's wrist/forearm and guiding him a longer distance (think: Aikido) – this movement becomes especially useful in conjunction with wrist locks, sweeps and heavy striking techniques (more so from when you are standing). The Short Drag involves you gripping your opponent behind the elbow, usually resulting in less overall movement – the resulting scenario is usually ideal for shoulder barges, major hip throws and taking your opponent's back (though an elbow to the back of the head never goes amiss either!).

If timed correctly, a Long Drag can be used to lead into a Short Drag. Both are suitable for gi/no-gi applications.


Arm drags are especially useful against aggressive or dirty fighters who opt to shove, tackle or grind their arms into you (usually their forearm across your face). In fact, the reason I first used an arm drag in BJJ is that someone in my guard was grinding his forearm over the bridge of my nose while punching at my ribs; I pushed his elbow across, (short) dragged his arm and took his back – love connection made.

Furthermore, arm drags are especially well-suited for smaller fighters (finally, gravity is on our side!) as their opponents often need to lean further forward (or in my case, almost crouch!) in order to efficiently attack. There's a psychological aspect that helps here too – I find that most fighters (even guys who'd otherwise opt for a more defensive/reactive style of playing) when facing a smaller opponent immediately want to dominate by rushing forward or dropping their weight on them.

As I've mentioned, the arm drag is ridiculously simple – so simple, that people get it wrong all the time! It literally is guiding your opponent in the direction he's already poised to go.

  • Don't make the mistake of tugging and pulling in a direction your opponent clearly isn't moving – to move him will take a lot of strength and it will tire you out in the process.
  • Remember to move your body appropriately (it's all in the hips) when attempting a long drag otherwise you may find that you've just given your opponent a better position – I think of it like this: I'm dragging my opponent a longer distance, so instead of counting on him to make the journey all by himself (your opponents aren't the most trustworthy people after all), I'll help him along – either by scooting to the side or step around myself (tai sabaki).


Post a Comment 2 comments:

Ikigai said...

Nice video! 'The simpler the better' is a great rule to operate under and this technique utilizes that.

April 11, 2009 at 7:44 AM

Riz said...

Thanks Matt, I completely agree. I always do my best to follow KISS : 'Keep It Simple Stupid'.

(I'd just end up confusing myself doing complicated things anyways!)

April 11, 2009 at 2:11 PM

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