Mastering Elbow Control in Jiu-Jitsu to Improve Your Game

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.

The elbows are sturdier than the wrists and fingers, but not as strong as the shoulders. For attacking, controlling your opponent’s elbows can provide access to formidable BJJ submissions such as the straight armbar, kimura, and Americana. Otherwise, you will use your elbows in major jiu-jitsu escapes.

This BJJ article will discuss the importance of elbows in Brazilian jiu-jitsu in attack and defense. Otherwise, you will get fantastic suggestions for avoiding the most common elbow injuries and reducing pain. Stay tuned!

How to Better Control the Elbow in Jiu-Jitsu?

The jiu-jitsu elbows

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 combining several parts of our body 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 arms against one of our BJJ opponents’ elbows, bending it 90 degrees for arm attacks (Kimura and Americana). We must use our legs, hips, and/or shoulders to apply these submissions to gain more leverage properly.
  • To break our opponent’s posture when he is on top of 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.

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How to Use Elbows in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

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 some beneficial ways to use your elbows to defend and attack your BJJ opponents.

Use your Elbows to Get Rid of Undesirable Hooks

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

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 (on top in side control or half guard) is another excellent 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

Using your elbows is the most efficient way to create space when defending on the bottom. 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.

Related: Elbow injuries are so repetitive in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Discover the origins, symptoms, and treatment of elbow discomfort in BJJ. Click here to learn more!


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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Significance of Elbows in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Elbows are important in Brazilian jiu-jitsu for both offense and defense. You can use your arms to attack, like the straight armbar, kimura, and Americana. And your elbow can help you get away from an opponent when under attack.

How Can One Better Control the Elbow in Jiu-Jitsu?

To control the elbows in jiu-jitsu, you should move them away from the opponent’s core. The elbow weakens considerably when it is more than 90 degrees from the upper body, so the objective is to separate the opponent’s elbows from their body while keeping your own close to your core when defending.

How Can One Get More Leverage When Attacking Elbows in BJJ?

When attempting to attack elbows in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, it is beneficial to maximize the power of your attack by combining various parts of your body.

You could, for example, use both arms to bend one of your opponent’s elbows to a 90-degree angle for arm attacks. Adding your legs, hips, and/or shoulders to help with these submissions can also be effective at creating more leverage.

What Are Some Ways to Use Elbows in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

In BJJ, elbows can be employed for a variety of purposes, such as getting rid of hooks, controlling an opponent’s hips, and blocking or creating space.

They can also be used to remove an opponent’s feet from your waist and protect your back from hooks.

Besides, the elbow helps post on your opponent’s hips to impede their movement and block their progress while allowing you to make defensive maneuvers.