Is the shoulder lock done with the legs the most “BJJ” of all BJJ techniques?


Everyone who starts BJJ eventually goes through a bit of an omoplata obsession, I think it’s because it’s one of those techniques that is unique to BJJ. Triangles, armbars and cross chokes can all be found in Judo, and while it’s probably possible to dig up a Jiujitsu demo from the 1920s that features an omoplata (take that as a challenge dear reader!), the technique has really found its mark in the world of BJJ.

While it’s impossible to say who invented the Omoplata, it was BJJ legend Nino Schembri who brought it the world stage thanks to this match in the 2001 ADCCC.

More from Nino:

Since then the technique has gone mainstream and often used in competition today:

The omolata and the triangle exist in the same space, and it’s easy to switch from one to another. They’re both tricky to finish, since they have multiple defence options, but against a larger opponent I find that I have way more chance of finishing them with an omoplata than with a triangle, so I always look for this option first. The other benefit of the omoplata is that if you don’t finish it you often end up on top anyway, whereas a failed triangle attempt can easily lead to you being stacked (which is bad for your neck) and having your guard passed.

As a shorter person who prefers open guard, it can be hard to set up the omoplata against somebody bigger and stronger than you though. I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently, and I think the problem is that you have to get perpendicular to the person, not attack them from directly in front, as you would if you were starting to do the omoplata from the closed guard. Here’s an excellent video by Xand Ribiero showing how to set up the omoplata from the open guard. Things to notice are:

  1. The 2-on-1 grip breaks their posture downwards.
  2. Foot on the hip enables him to get perpendicular.
  3. He underhooks the leg to stop them pulling out backwards while the omoplata set up is going on.
  4. He raises his hips up to meet their arm.

Here’s the video: