How to Use Elbows Properly in Jiu-Jitsu? (Prevent Injuries)

As a skilled Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner, you should use every part of your body to control and attack your opponent, including your elbows, hips, and other joints. So, what is the significance of elbows in Brazilian jiu-jitsu?

Elbows are more robust than the wrists and fingers but weaker than the shoulders. As a result, from an attacking standpoint, manipulating and controlling your opponent’s jiu-jitsu elbows will lead you to some excellent arm attacks like the straight armbar, kimura, and Americana. In defense, on the other hand, your elbow can help you create space when you’re at the mercy of your opponent.

This BJJ article will discuss some fascinating facts about elbows in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Otherwise, you will get some fantastic suggestions to avoid the most common BJJ elbow injuries and reduce pain. Stay tuned!

How to Better Control the Elbow in Jiu-Jitsu?

To better attack (or control) the elbows, you must move them away from your BJJ opponent’s core. In the experience of many jiu-jitsu practitioners, the elbow weakens dramatically at any angle beyond 90 degrees from the upper body.

Though, the elbow is stronger the closer it is to the body.

So our goal while attacking is to separate our opponent’s elbows from the core of his body. Conversely, our elbows must always stay close to our core when defending.

source: Stephan Kesting

How to Get More Leverage Attacking elbows in BJJ?

In jiu-jitsu, we must always attack one of our opponent’s limbs by using several parts of our body in combination to give us more leverage over our BJJ opponent.

This principle works wonders when we are attacking our opponent’s BJJ elbows. Here are some examples: 

  • We can use both of our arms against one of our BJJ opponent’s elbows, bending it 90 degrees for arm attacks (Kimura and Americana). To properly apply these submissions, we must use our legs, hips, and/or shoulders to gain more leverage.
  • To break our opponent’s posture when he is on top in our guard. We can cup our opponent’s jiu-jitsu elbows with our hands and pull them downwards while crunching our body, bringing our crossed legs to our chest. This is a great way to disrupt his offensive attacks.

How to Use Elbows in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

jiu-jitsu elbows

Every dangerous jiu-jitsu fighter often uses their elbows because their hands are usually busy making a strategic grip or serving as a point of balance for the body.

Here are a couple of very useful ways to use your elbows to both defend and attack your BJJ opponents.

  • Use your Elbows to Get Rid of Undesirable Hooks

When my BJJ opponent is stepping on my waist to push me away and create space, I use my elbows to remove his feet without committing other parts of my body.

You can also use your elbows to defend your back from hooks by pushing the hooks out when they are around your waist.

source: WorldMartialArts

  • Use Your Elbows to Control the Opponent’s Hips

I can’t stress enough the importance of controlling your opponent’s hips at every moment of a match. You can use your elbows to control your opponent’s hips from many positions: Side control, half guard, and guard passing are the most common.

For example, when passing the guard you can post your elbow on one side of your opponent’s hips to pin his hips down into a flat position. This will help to gain more control over his motion.

Posting your elbow on the mat next to your opponent’s hips (when on top in side control or half guard) is another great way to gain control over him. It will help you to slow him down by partially blocking his hips.

  • Use Your Elbows to Block or Create Space

Many times the most efficient way to create space when defending on the bottom is by using your elbows. Use your elbow to block your opponent’s hips from moving forward. Pushing his knees and following up with hip escape.

Otherwise, putting your elbow on the base of your opponent’s neck (between the trapezius and the neck) is a great way to stop your BJJ opponent in his tracks by creating more space for your defensive moves like guard recovery.

What Are the Most Repeated BJJ Elbow Injuries?

Elbow injuries are common during Brazilian jiu-jitsu training (sparring, drilling, etc.). It will happen most often when targeting techniques and submissions that cause severe elbow hyperextension, such as armlocks (straight armbar, American, and so on).

Here is a list of the considerable expected elbow injuries in Brazilian jiu-jitsu you should avoid.

  • Tendonitis

Tendonitis is a type of swelling caused by repeated movements. It is painful tenosynovitis of the tendons. Therefore, what can you do to prevent this BJJ elbow pain? 

Warming up correctly the affected area before any jiu-jitsu training session is the simplest way to heal tendonitis. Otherwise, you can use ice to the injured area after every training to reduce pain and accelerate healing.

If the tendonitis elbow injury is severe, it is best to seek the proper medical attention.

  • Dislocation

One of the most common Brazilian jiu-jitsu elbow injuries is dislocation. When a fighter is taken down hard or pushed into the ground, dislocations can occur due to resistance to submission maneuvers.

An elbow dislocation injury occurs when the elbow bone is pulled or pushed out of its normal position. So, how to contain elbow pain when a dislocation occurs?

Elbow dislocation can be a complex elbow injury. So, you should see a physician right away when a dislocation occurs and get it treated. Besides, you should avoid fighting for a while until the problem is resolved.

  • Bursitis

Bursitis is an elbow injury characterized by inflammation of the fluid-filled sacs known as Bursae due to Repeated elbow collisions. The bursae act as a cushion in the joints, reducing friction between moving bones, tendons, and muscles. Unfortunately, repeated collisions typically cause bursitis to the same area. So, how to stop elbow pain when bursitis occurs?

Applying ice to the affected area is a simple way to treat bursitis. Fighters may tolerate the pain of bursitis and continue training. But, it is best to avoid sparring and rest until the condition improves.

  • Elbow Fractures

Fractures are among the most severe injuries a person can sustain. They are damaging to one’s career and can cost a lot of money. 

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is not a soft fighting sport; it is highly technical and dangerous, and with danger comes risk. Even when professional fighters fight with extreme caution, they are prone to injury. 

Elbow fractures are also among the most common injuries that have prematurely ended the careers of potential combatants. They are caused by a hard fall, bashing to the elbow, elbow twisting, or a strong push or pull. Elbow fractures cause severe pain as well as a large bruise. 

Furthermore, It is critical to get a plaster applied as soon as possible after a fracture. Fractures take a lengthy time to heal and sometimes do not heal completely. Treatment for elbow fractures is costly, so it is recommended that you see a doctor for a checkup.

  • Elbow UCL Injuries

The UCL, also known as the Ulnar Collateral Ligament, is a ligament that can be injured while practicing or fighting. If a fighter in a combat sport suffers a ligament injury, it can be a huge setback. In addition, they take a long time to cure and sometimes do not recover completely.


Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a grappling martial art in which practitioners use several techniques, including takedowns, armlocks, etc. Besides, a fighter may use his elbows to block his opponent and create space in these situations. Furthermore, elbow injuries can occur during jiu-jitsu training when targeting a technique (armlocks, takedowns, etc.) that involves the elbow.

Speak your mind; how do you heal from BJJ elbow injuries?

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