royce omoplata bjj

Mastering The Omoplata in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: A Deep Dive

Among the myriad of moves in a BJJ practitioner’s arsenal, the Omoplata stands out not only for its effectiveness and versatility but also for its rich history. In this article, we’ll explore the Omoplata in depth, from its origins to its application in modern BJJ.

Introduction to the Omoplata

The Omoplata, also known as the “shoulder lock,” is a submission technique that primarily targets the opponent’s shoulder joint. It’s a move that can be executed from various positions, making it a versatile tool in a BJJ practitioner’s arsenal.

The Historical Roots of the Omoplata in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

The Omoplata, a term that translates to “scapula” in Portuguese, is not just a mere submission technique in the vast world of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Its roots and evolution trace back to the intricate dance between strategy, leverage, and the human anatomy.

Origins and Evolution

While the exact origins of the Omoplata in BJJ are shrouded in mystery, its application and mechanics are deeply intertwined with the art’s philosophy of using leverage against an opponent. The technique leverages the shoulder joint, turning the body’s natural anatomy into a fulcrum for submission.

The Omoplata’s journey in BJJ is believed to have been influenced by Judo, another martial art known for its throws and ground control. In Judo, similar shoulder lock techniques exist, but the Omoplata’s adaptation and refinement in BJJ have made it unique to the art.

From Guard to Submission

The most recognized application of the Omoplata emerges from the guard position. The practitioner places a leg under the adversary’s armpit and executes a 180-degree rotation. This movement results in the leg traveling over the opponent’s back and encircling their arm. The culmination of this technique is the control of the opponent’s body, often achieved by wrapping an arm around their waist. The final act is exerting pressure on the opponent’s shoulder, pushing their arm in a direction perpendicular to their back.

This technique, while primarily a submission, also serves as a foundation for other maneuvers in BJJ, such as sweeps, armbars, and chokes. Its versatility is a testament to its deep-rooted significance in the art.

Techniques and Variations

The Omoplata is a versatile submission that can be applied from various positions. Its primary target is the opponent’s shoulder joint, and it involves the practitioner using their legs to trap the opponent’s arm, forcing it behind their back to create immense pressure on the shoulder.

Evolution in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

The Omoplata made its appearance in Brazil, likely influenced by either Judo or catch wrestling, both of which were popular styles in Brazil during the 1930s and 1940s. Initially, the technique was not seen as highly effective and was merely a part of the curriculum taught by most jiu-jitsu academies. However, with the advent of ‘submission-only’ style competitions and changes in jiu-jitsu rules in the 1970s, the Omoplata began to gain prominence as a submission move. Its popularity surged in the 1990s, thanks to Antonio ‘Nino’ Schembri, who revolutionized the guard game and showcased the efficiency of the Omoplata, using it as a setup for sweeps, armbars, chokes, and other techniques.

Notable Omoplata Jiu-Jitsu Specialists

Several BJJ practitioners have become renowned for their expertise in the Omoplata:

  • Nino Schembri: Often credited with popularizing the Omoplata in modern BJJ.
  • Mario Reis
  • Andre Galvao
  • Eddie Bravo
  • Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles
  • Ryan Hall
  • Michael Langhi
  • Michele Nicolini
  • Clark Gracie
  • Bernardo Faria
  • Michael Liera Jr.
Bernardo Faria showing a finish to the Omoplata

Mastering the Omoplata: A Step-by-Step Guide

The Omoplata is a dynamic and versatile submission in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Whether you’re starting from the closed guard or transitioning from a triangle choke, understanding the nuances of this technique is crucial. Let’s break it down:

Executing the Omoplata from Closed Guard

  1. Breaking Posture: From the closed guard, use both your arms and legs to disrupt your opponent’s balance and posture.
  2. Hip Movement: Adjust your hips towards the arm you’re targeting.
  3. Arm Positioning: Slide your arm beneath the leg on the attacking side.
  4. Grip Control: Secure a grip on your opponent’s collar to maintain control.
  5. Body Rotation: Open your guard and spin your body a full 180 degrees, extending your legs in front of you as you complete the turn.
  6. Maintain Control: Wrap your arm around your opponent’s waist to prevent them from escaping.
  7. Knee Direction: Ensure your knees are pointing towards your opponent.
  8. Finishing Touch: Elevate your hips off the mat to apply pressure and secure the submission.

Transitioning to Omoplata from Triangle

At times, your opponent might tuck their arm away to defend against a triangle choke. This opens up an opportunity for the Omoplata.

  1. Head Repositioning: From the triangle setup, push your opponent’s head away from the concealed arm. Achieve this by using your hips, the palm of your hand, or placing your foot in front of their face.
  2. Foot Placement: If not already positioned, move the foot on the side of the hidden arm across your opponent’s face.
  3. Body Rotation: Spin your body 180 degrees.
  4. Control and Finish: Just like the steps from the closed guard, wrap your arm around their waist, point your knees towards them, and elevate your hips for the submission.

Pro Tips for Perfecting the Omoplata

  • Commit to the Technique: The key to mastering the Omoplata is consistent practice. Use your training sessions to attempt the move frequently. Remember, it’s all about learning and refining.
  • Prioritize Control: Control is the essence of BJJ. When working on the Omoplata, focus on preventing your opponent from rolling out. A grip around their waist can be a game-changer.
  • Stay Adaptive: If your opponent manages to roll out of the Omoplata, follow their movement and aim to secure a dominant top position.
  • Experiment and Innovate: While the closed guard and triangle are common setups, the Omoplata can be initiated from various positions. Explore and find what works best for you.
  • Believe in the Move: Trust in the technique and yourself. Even if your opponent is resisting, maintain control, stay calm, and continue to work towards the submission.
The 5 ways to enter into the Omoplata – Source:


The Omoplata is a testament to the depth and complexity of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Its rich history and evolution in the sport showcase the adaptability and innovation inherent in BJJ. Whether you’re a seasoned practitioner or a newbie, mastering the Omoplata can be a valuable addition to your BJJ toolkit. As with all techniques, consistent practice and understanding of its nuances are key to effectively executing the Omoplata on the mat.

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