Unusual Submission Grappling Moves That Work In BJJ

Unusual Submission Grappling Moves
Mike Tyson dvd instructional peekaboo power punching

What do you prefer watching, an ADCC final or an IBJJF Gi Worlds final? I know what I’ll choose any day of the week. The reason why NO-Gi is a bit more popular, and entertaining to watch than Gi Jiu-Jitsu is two-fold. The pace of the matches is a lot faster because gripping and attaching is much harder. But the pace is not the only thing. In No-Gi, submission hunting is much more of a goal, since it both solves the grip attachment problem and provides a quick way to finish. There’s no point in stalling when anything can happen in those explosive, slippery scrambles. To that extent, submission grappling submissions work differently than Gi submissions for the most part. In fact, there are some that are downright cruel and unusual and we’ll be looking into them today. 

Submission grappling, whether you call I BJJ, catch wrestling, or whatever, is fun. In fact, today, I guess Brazilian JIu-Jitsu is the root name of our sport, but you can call it whatever you want. My preference is just JIu-Jitsu, although Gi or No-GI it all boils down to submission grappling. Let’s face it, people rarely roll with the intention of “out advantaging” someone and would take a submission over points in a real match at any time. To that extent, the toolbox that we usually use in Jiu-Jitsu is quite small. Even people that opt for crazier submission options usually stay within the bounds of that family of submissions. Why not widen your perspective and include all the unusual moves that actually work and have been pulled off in real matches or fights?

Why Unusual Submissions Work

Catching a submission brings about a very special kind of feeling. Particularly in BJJ, when you finally get that very first one it is as big of a hook for the sport as any. I know I got addicted to grappling the moment I sunk in that first submission and got the tap. I was a white belt, training in the Gi and somehow, got a hold of an outside heel hook. Later on, I discovered they were not allowed at the academy I trained at. However, it was a tap, a legit one for me at the time, and a huge reason why I fell in love with JIu-Jitsu. And it was a real breath of fresh air, after tapping for months to higher belts without ever having a chance myself. The story is similar for most people in JIu-JItsu or any kind of submission grappling sport.

The reason why submissions work so well is simple – mechanics. You get yourself leverage and you’ll be able to break any joint, upper, or lower limb. In terms of chokes, it’s all down to the pressure you can apply which is once again, superior mechanics at play. So, how come some submissions are more successful than others? The reason is positioning. For some moves like the rear-naked choke or certain heel hooks, when the position is tight there’s nothing you can do to get out of the submission, even when you know it is coming. For others, though, like guillotines or armbars, for example, you can sneak out along the way, because you know what comes next and you have time and space to react.

With unusual submissions, the X factor is positioning. Of course, they need to have the mechanics to work in the first place. However, the positioning, entry, and often times angle and limbs involved in the choke are very unorthodox and surprising. That’s what catches people off guard, and makes these moves so effective.

Rare Submission Grappling Moves To Add to Your Arsenal

So why aren’t’ we using them more? Well, there are again two reasons behind this. One has to do with rules and restrictions and the other, with the moves themselves. The first is pretty self-explanatory. In terms of the movest themselves, they’re far from easy to get to and often require an advanced level of understanding of grappling. But when you do get the hang of them, boy do they work!

To be honest, there’s no way to explain every crazy move that you may pull of in BJJ or MMA. Sometimes it is down to body type, gameplan, and lots of luck. Other positions are great but require a bit more effort to really understand, meaning you‘ll need to spend months training them. Then, there are the things you can quickly understand, and then start putting to practice in rolling, until you can finally rely on them in a match. Even then, the strategy is not to use them as go-to moves, but rather as ou secret weapon, one that’s always available should you need it. After all, submission grappling is all about deception at its core.

The Twister 

Unusual Submission Grappling Moves TwisterSince it is a really popular one to talk bout, after last weekend’s UFC DC, I’ll start with the Twister. I know that for 10th Planet JIu-JItsu folks this is neither unusual nor new, but bear with me. In competition, people are not really pulling off that many twisters. And that’s a shame since Eddie Bravo has every aspect broken down to a science. That said, Bryce Mitchell just pulled off the second-ever Twister in the UFC last weekend. When you take a look, this wrestling pin is actually one of the top submission grappling finishes ever.

In No-Gi competition, like EBI the Twister is not that rare. Granted, there are a lot more heel hooks and armbars, but you see the Twister working at the highest levels of the sport. The move is fairly easy to access. All you need is one hook from the back and you’ll easily enter into a position. The first battle s is usually to get the arm of your opponent behind your head. The second one is to actually get the grip for the submission. Still, both of these have so many different finishing options and counters to defenses, that the move is a very high percentage. Get to know this one!

Boston Crab 

The Boston crab is a submission that’s usually seen in the WWE. As such, most people think it is nothing more than putting on a show. Granted, it does seem that way, but after it worked in an MMA fight, people started rethinking their approach. Including me.

Unusual Submission Grappling Moves - Boston CrabThe move is, in essence, a spinal lock from a weird position that seems like it is never going to work. Well, Jonno Mears didn’t get that memo and pulled it off in an actual MMA fight. The video, of course, went viral, and people started wondering whether it would work. The answer is, yes, it will, and particularly in BJJ.

The Boston crab, or a variation of it, is actually an old Judo move that Jigoro Kano liked to use a lot. He did it on one leg in the form of a leg lock, but the move is legitimate. Getting there can be tricky but not hard, particularly in passing and open guards. From there on, you just sit on your opponent, facing backward, grab both ankles underneath your armpits and pull for a full Boston crab spinal lock. Or just go for the leg on one side, Kano-style.

Mir Lock

Unusual Submission Grappling Moves - MIr LockThe Mir Lock is named after UFC legend Frank Mir who is a notorious arm breaker. That said, you know an armlock is coming your way when you read the name of the move. Once again, this is amove tailor-made for submission grappling. It comes on fast, it is impossible to defend and requires little time to learn. IN essence, the Mir lock is a bent arm lock done from the closed guard. It works as an Americana hybrid, of sorts. All you need to set up this wicked submission is getting and overhook from the closed guard.

The positioning of your arms needs to be perfect, but that’s an easy thing to figure out. For the finish, think about bringing the elbow of the trapped arm to the middle of your body, while keeping the wrist on the side. Grip your own thigh with the arm that’s threaded through and lay back for a quick and very painful tap. Works gi and No-Gi!

Squirrel Lock 

As far as wacky unexpected submissions go, this is my go-to. It is an invention by a Roger Gracie black belt named Oliver Geddes. In fact, he has pulled it off in competition against black belts several times now. The move is the perfect way to catch everyone off guard as it works from the bottom of side control / north-south.

Unusual Submission Grappling Moves Squirrel LockFrоm the bottom yoу basically do a kimura with your leгs on the arm of an unsuspecting opponent. As far as submission grappling deception goes, this is att eh very top. In essence, the idea is to thread one leg over the upper arm, just like for a Kimura and then entangle the opponent so that you either get a tap there or roll the opponent over and still get тхе tap, this time from the top.


Unusual Submission Grappling Moves - GogoplataA classic mystery submission. This one is yet another one closely related to 10th planter Jiu-Jitsu and their system. It is basically a way to do a blood choke on an opponent with your foot. How exactly? Imagine you have an Omoplata. When an opponent turn s into you, for whatever reason, you place your foot right on their neck. The V shape of your ankle joint makes it fit perfectly for a choke .he finishing detail si grabbing your own toes and pulling. The best part about it – it works from both the guard and from the top mount. SO far, plenty of people have pulled it off, although the most memorable has to be Nick Diaz against Takanori Gomi in PRIDE. Works for me as well, particularly the mounted version that’s very easy and reliable if you understand the Monkey Mount.

Asylum choke

Unusual Submission Grappling Moves - Asylum chokeYou’re going deep into the web of submission grappling with this one. Even the name sound s menacing. It is a Gi choke, one that’ too scary to take all the way to the end. Bare with me and you’ll see exactly why. This is basically a collar choke, but one that’s ultra-tight. You could go for it from an OMoplata gain, but a way better setup is guard retention. From an Omoplata, your goal is hooking the far side arm with the same leg you have under the original Omoplata arm. Then, you swing your other leg over the head so that it is at the back of the opponent’s neck.

From there. Grip the collar, and use the leg behind the head to push down. You’ll get a tap immediately. The scary thing is when you realize there’s a lot more space to push with your leg. A real decapitation waiting to happen.

Marcelo Garcia Back Crucifix Choke 

By far, the craziest one of the bunch. I discovered this choke when I was doing the research for this particular article. In that sense, I’ve hadn’t had a lot of time to give it a shot, but whenever I try it, people are close to bursting in tears. It is that effective.

Unusual Submission Grappling Moves - Crucifix ChokeMarcelo Garcia is behind this one, so you know it has merit to it. In fact, the first time I saw it was when he pulled it off against Ben Askren during rolling. Wrap your head around that. Speaking of wrapping, Marcelo uses the turtle to go into a crucifix setup. However, instead of heading the usual crucifix way, he instead hooks both arms with his legs while the opponent is still in the turtle.  From there, any choke is easy as your opponent has literally no way of moving in any possible direction. Plus, you can have a lot of fun with neck cranks or even possible armlocks.

The Pace Choke

Unusual Submission Grappling Moves - Pace ChokeOut of all the crazy submission grappling finishes, we’re looking at today, this one is by far the most complicated one. However, when and if you get it it will pay off with the nastiest tap you’ve ever gotten in grappling! UFC fighter Nick Pace is behind this one, hence the name., he even managed to pull it off against Will Campuzano in the octagon. The move starts off as a triangle choke but quickly morphs into something crazy and totally unexpected. Instead of locking the triangle, Pace likes to use his arm under the neck, to secure the top leg. His other leg remains free. One gable grip later and you’ll have a quick tap and a very confused looking training partner/opponent.

Scissor Choke

Unusual Submission Grappling Moves - scissor chokeAnother catch wrestling classic and yet personal another favorite of mine. Whenever you’re having trouble breaking a defensive Kimura grip from north-south, this is the go-to move. And people fall for it all the time. Although this looks like another pro-wrestling move that’s just for show, I can attest that it works. All you need to do is place one leg over the opponent’s head, which, most likely, you already have from the north-south. Next, you fall to the side of the kimura, trading the other leg behind the opponent’s head. As long as the back of the knee of your top leg is on their Adam’s apple, you’ll geta tap. Simply squeeze the legs and they’ll go to sleep, or release the grip and give you the Kimura. Or both. Perfect for those ultra-strong guys that grip their own belts/Gis during Kimura attacks.

Dragon Sleeper Hold

Certain moves that we can see in WWE and pro-wrestling are supposed to be nothing more but choreography to entertain the masses. But it’s not the case with the Dragon Sleeper Hold that we can see a lot in WWE.

The dragon sleeper holdThe first step in Dragon sleeper hold is to sit down, while you’re still holding your opponent’s neck. Then you transition to the back of your opponent. Once you’ve established both hooks you’ll go for the tap unless your opponent already tapped from discomfort. When you’re about to finish the choke you have to imagine that you’re in closed guard and you’re want to do a guillotine choke. Remember no to snap backward too fast.

Final Thoughts

All in all, if you’re grappling, you’re doing submission grappling. Outside of high school / collegiate wrestling, submissions are apart of any type of grappling martial art .in fact, in every art, they’re the best way to finish a match early and decisively. Broadening your horizons with some uncommon moves that will surprise everyone you roll with is a great way to both add to your toolbox, and increase your threat level while you hunt for other, more conventional subs. Try ‘em out!

BJJ Fanatics 50% Off discount
Previous articleHow IBJJF Rankings Work And Why They Are A Mess
Next articleHow To Roll With The BJJ New Guy