Learn Everything You Can Do With The Figure Four Grip In BJJ

Evertyhing About The Figure Four Grip In BJJ

Are you looking to improve your Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu game? One technique that you should definitely have in your arsenal is the figure four grip. It is a versatile grip that can give you increased control over your opponent, allowing you to set up various submission techniques and transition to other positions. Here today, we’ll take an in-depth look at the figure four grip in BJJ and explore its different applications, benefits, and variations. We’ll also provide step-by-step guides on how to execute various figure four submission holds and share tips on how to defend against them.

The Figure Four Grip in BJJ

The figure four grip is a hand placement configuration where one hand is wrapped around the other hand and wrist to form a “figure four” shape. This grip is commonly used to control an opponent’s arm, leg, or neck. The grip is very versatile and can be used in both standing and ground positions.

Figure Four Grip Set Up

To perform the figure four grip, one hand should grab the wrist of the other hand. The second hand should wrap around a part of the opponent’s body, whether is a limb or the neck, thus creating a “figure four” shape. The grip should be tight and secure to maintain control, which is mainly done via elbow extension and/or flexion.

Basic Applications

The figure four grip can be used to set up submissions, such as armlocks and leglocks. For example, the figure four grip can be used to secure your opponent’s arm and set up a direct Kimura, or indirect armbar submission. It can also be used to control your opponent’s leg and set up a toe hold submission. In terms of chokes, everything done with the arms and without the Gi comes down to some form of figure four (RN, Darce, Anaconda…).

The possibilities are endless when it comes to using the figure four grip in BJJ.

Advanced Applications

The figure four grip is an excellent technique for controlling your opponent’s movements. When used correctly, it can prevent them from posturing up or escaping a guard, or enhance pinning from top positions like side control. It can also be used to set up sweeps, as it allows you to shift your opponent’s weight distribution.

The figure four grip on the arms is the commonly used control form from the closed guard, and half guard, but it can be used from almost all top and bottom positions when you’re using the grip to get a hold of other body parts as well.

Defending figure four arm locks

The Benefits of the Figure Four Grip in BJJ

The benefits of the grip are mostly in the form of energy efficiency. With the figure 4 grip, you can set up submissions, transition in between positions, and finish submissions without using the power of your muscles and spending energy to achieve your goals. Of course, understanding the mechanics of the grip is a huge condition to make it al work so “effortlessly”.

Increased Control Over Opponent

The figure four grip can provide increased control over an opponent by immobilizing their arm or leg.  By locking it in, a practitioner can restrict the range of motion of the opponent’s limb which is under control. This relates to limiting the opponent’s movement capabilities and shutting down a big part of their game just by gripping and holding on.

Many Submission Options

This grip is also useful for setting up various submission techniques. For example, by locking in the figure four grip on an opponent’s arm, a practitioner can set up an armbar or a shoulder lock. Similarly, by using the figure four grip on an opponent’s leg, a practitioner can set up a toe hold or even something more sinister, like the Estima lock.

Transitioning Between BJJ Positions

This versatile grip can also be used to transition to other positions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. For example, a practitioner can use the figure four grip to transition from side control to the back via a Kimura grip or pass a guard by going for a toe hold. The best part is that you do not lose any control when transitioning due to the powerful mechanics of the grip configuration.

Different Types Of Figure Four Submission Holds In BJJ

The figure four is mostly used to finish submissions on every possible part of the body, from joint locks to chokes. Let’s take a look at an example for each, and how the grip allows you to combine them together.

Basic Mechanics

To perform a figure four submission hold, you need to utilize the mechanical advantage the grip provides. This usually means twisting, pulling, and pushing with your arms all at once, which comes pretty naturally and instinctively anyway.

Variations And Modifications

There are several variations of the figure four, the most obvious one being the rear naked choke where the second gripping arm is placed higher on the first arm, at biceps or shoulder level, rather than the usual writ level connection of both your arms.

there is also a reverse figure four grip modification where the hands connect to each other in an opposite manner to the usual one.

How To Finish Figure Four Submission Holds

The key point is to always include a pushing motion to amplify the effects of the twisting one which is usually the predominant motion when using figure four submission holds.

Figure Four Leg Lock(s)

Stuck in someone’s half-guard? Don’t fuss with passing, but rather turn to see where the foot of their top leg is. If yo can reach it with the same side arm to grip your toes, you can do a toe hold. Once the first grip is on, use the second arm to go around their ankle and connect the figure four, Then, make their toes touch their butt.

Common mistakes to avoid

Some common mistakes to avoid when executing the toe hold are holding the controlling position (having a figure four grip, but not applying braking pressure yet) too loose. Once you get a toe hold grip on, ensure that you bend the opponent’s knee as much possible to prevent them from kicking out and extending their leg.

Figure Four Arm Lock(s)

The Kimura and Americana are picture-perfect examples of setting up the immediate figure four submission holds. For either, you need control of the opponent’s wrist first. The free arm then goes over (Kimura) or under (Americana) the upper arm of the opponent in order to connect for the figure four configuration.

Pulling the elbow of the secondary results in really powerful submissions, particularly when you also introduce a twisting motion.

Common mistakes to avoid

Some common mistakes to avoid when executing the Figure Four Arm Lock include failing to extend your elbows. The more your elbows are bent in figure four, the more slack there is for an opponent to maneuver out. Keep the elbows straight and stiff right up until the moment of applying braking pressure.

Figure Four Choke(s)

The rear naked choke is one great example that everyone knows. Instead of exploring it again, I’ll focus on a Darce variation called the short-arm Darce choke.

From top side control, you sneak in the near side arm under the opponent’s top armpit, as they’re facing you. As the arm emerges behind their neck, your aim is to use it to grab the biceps of your free arm, but that can sometimes be hard if you have short arms or are grappling a massive opponent.

Instead, place the grip on the forearm of the arm that’s going across the neck and you’ll easily choke out even the most broad-shouldered person in your gym.

Common mistakes to avoid

Some common mistakes to avoid when executing the Figure Four Choke include not securing the grip properly. Sqeezing for a choke, especially Darce variations without a strong figure four is waste of time and your muscle power.

How To Defend Against The Figure Four

The figure four grip can be a hard one to beat, particularly n the form of submission holds, but it’s not invincible. Here are some tips on how you can set up to defend against it:

Breaking The Figure Four Grip

The first step in defending against the figure grip is to weaken the opponent’s wrists. you won’t be able to break the grip unless you bend one, preferably both of their wrists so that you can use your elbow to drive in a direction that is impossible to hold.

Also, focus on using your free arm to try and control the arm going around your upper arm/ankle in order to off-set any immediate breaking threat.

Escaping A Figure Four Hold

Getting out will require you to free the elbow or heel (arm and leg locks). Moving your elbow so that it is stuck to your ribs, and the mats, if possible, does the trick when it comes to weakening the figure four significantly enough to get out of arm locks.

In a toe hold, try to glue your heel to the opponent’s hips in order to challenge the mechanics of the grip.

Braking out of both requires you to extend the limb in question forcefully and completely.

Beating chokes is a bit more difficult and requires a complete article in itself. In short, the goal is to make space by turning your neck, so that you gain access to the elbow of either arm, in order to weaken the hold, before twisting some more to get out.


The figure four grip is a valuable technique that can greatly enhance your BJJ game. With its ability to provide increased control over your opponent, set up various submissions, and transition to other positions, mastering this grip can be a game-changer. By understanding the basic mechanics of the figure four hold, its variations, and how to execute and defend against different types of figure four submission holds, you can quickly and easily take your BJJ skills to the next level.

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