The Omoplata – History, Setup, & Variations

The omoplata submission is a diverse bjj technique that has evolved significantly since its creation. It was first passed off as low percentage submission, but gradually gained popularity as it became more developed. Today, the omoplata is a popular submission that is also used to set up other submissions and sweeps.

In this article, we’ll breakdown the omoplata’s history, how to perform the sub, and different set ups. We’ll also detail sweeps and different submissions that come off an omoplata.

What Is The Omoplata?

The omoplata submission is an arm/shoulder lock used in grappling. You isolate their arm by locking your legs around their arm/shoulder, then control their body with your arm. This is done to make sure they don’t escape the hold.

After you gained control of their body apply pressure downard on their shoulder until you get the tap. There are different methods to finish an omoplata, but this a basic breakdown of how it is done.

Early Origins

The omoplata actually was not developed in BJJ. It predates jiu jitsu and was used in judo and catch wrestling long before Brazilian jiu jitsu was created.

In judo an omoplata is referred to as an ashi-sankaku-garami, which means triangular entanglement. Catch wrestling refers to an omoplata as a coil lock, because it looks similar to how a metal coil bends.

History Of Omoplata In BJJ

In Portuguese, omoplata means scapula and jiu jitsu practitioners began teaching it in the 1930s/40s. They took it from judo and catch wrestling that were popular martial arts at the time in Brazil. Though it wasn’t used like it is today.

Jiu Jitsu schools in Brazil taught the omoplata in their curriculum, but it was considered a low percentage submission. Many instructors did not see the potential that the move had and passively taught it. To them it was just an unlikely armlock to know.

BJJ champion of the 70’s and 80’s Otavio Peixotinho did an interview with BJJ Heroes and said this about the omoplata. “The omoplata existed, but it lacked effectiveness. It was something you would try in training but not in comps. I saw Rickson and Rolls competing plenty of times, even they wouldn’t put it to use.”

For almost 70 years in jiu jitsu, the omoplata was only listed as a submission by the CBJJ(Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation of Brazil). The potential it had for setting up sweeps and reversals had not yet been realized by the BJJ community.

It wasn’t until 1994 that the rule was changed and the potential of the omoplata was finally recognized. After the rule change points were then given for sweeps that come off omoplata attempts.

After having its effectiveness acknowledged, the omoplata is now taught as a basic move you must know. Today new omoplata techniques are constantly being developed and they’re now top jiu jitsu athletes that specialize in the move.

Nino Schembri

The man that can be accredited for jumpstarting the omoplata’s popularity and evolution is Atonio “Nino” Schembri. He was not only submitting people with the move, but also getting subs and sweeps from it.

Schembri was getting omoplatas from nearly any position and at the time had one of the best jiu jitsu games. He was able to chain moves together to and from an omoplata always attacking an opponent.

His influence helped inspire some of the top athletes like Clark Gracie, Michael Langhi, and Cobrinha Charles.

Omoplatas From Guard

Here’s are some popular methods on how to catch an omoplata from guard.

  • Basic Closed Guard set ups: Isolate an arm with either an overhook or underhook. Rotate your body 180 degrees, circle your leg around their arm, and press it down on top of it. Control their body/arm, sit up, and lean it to them to get the tap.
  • Rubber Guard: This cuts a few steps out of other basic guard techniques, but need a little flexibility to complete. Start by going to mission control by underhooking your legs from guard and get high near their shoulders. From there lift your leg over their head to hook it around their shoulder and go for the finish.
  • Omoplata From A Triangle Choke: If the opponent defends a triangle by hooking their arm around your leg, you’re already halfway to an omo. Unlock your feet and hook your leg around their shoulder and start the set up.
  • Omoplata From An Armbar: When you get an armbar from guard and they may defend by stacking. This leaves their other arm exposed for an omo. Control this arm and then kick your foot over their shoulder and go through the steps to finish the sub.
  • Omoplata From A Kimura/Reverse Armbar: You already have control of the arm from these submissions. When they go to defend them, you can easily transfer to an omoplata since you’re already controlling the arm.

Other Omoplatta options

As we detailed above, the opportunity to secure an omoplata often arises when seeking other submissions. This means it’s also possible to get those subs off an omoplata, as well. They’re all chained together and this makes it possible to get these submissions from guard off one another.

  • Omoplata From An Opponent’s Single Leg:Let’s say you have an opponent in side control and they bridge and grab a single leg. Control their tricep/elbow with your outside hand and immediately front roll to an omoplata. Tuck your inside shoulder during the roll, and control their body to start the process of finishing it.
  • Omoplata From Mount: In mount you can get a high position and grab an underhook. From there, you can pull them on their side and hook you leg around their shoulder.
  • Omoplata From Top Control In Turtle Position: When you have an opponent in turtle, control their hips, and pull out their near arm. After establishing control hook your leg around their arm, and go for the finish.


Sweeps from the Omoplata

The opponent is also a strong sweeping position. It forces you opponent to concede the sweep and also gives you more options  . Here are the two most common forms of sweep from an Omoplata.

Opponent Front Roll: When an opponent front rolls to escape follow them and take top control. You will be awarded sweep points. You can also make them roll by grabbing their belt and rolling them forward.

Barrel Roll Sweep: Instead of sitting up to do the finish, you can underhook their near leg and roll outward. This will sweep them over with you ending up on top.

The Gogoplata

Nick Diaz locks up a Gogoplata at Pride 33

The Gogoplata is a variation on the Omoplata that is actually a choke rather than a shoulder lock. The Gogoplata is a submission tenhnique that can be done using the shin bone of your leg that has a secured Omoplatta to attack the neck of your opponent. Nick Diaz famously used this technique to submit Takanori Gomi at Pride 33.

The Gogoplata is extremely rare MMA and BJJ and is even more rare in Gi Jiu Jitsu. The submission was first used in Judo and was referred to as the kakato-jime in Japanese Judo. It has also been seen in modern day professional wrestling when used by the Undertaker who calls it the “Hells Gate”. The use of the move by the Undertaker (Mark William Calaway) is not surprising considering the fact that he is a BJJ black belt since 2011.

General Tips

Remember these important tips when going for omoplatas.

  • Control The Arm: Remember you need to control the elbow or tricep you are attacking. Have control of the arm before you hook your leg around their shoulder.
  • Body Control: After you have it and sit up, you need to control their body. Have an arm around their hip to control their body and prevent front rolls.
  • Eliminate Space: There can’t be any space between your hips and their body. If there’s space, then they have a possibility to escape.
  • Ways To Finish: Different Instructors teach the finish of the sub either with your legs triangled or with just one leg over. Neither are wrong and it’s possible to finish an omoplata with either.
  • Omoplata In Gi Grips: An omoplata attempt in gi gives you the option to get grips for better control. When transitioning into the submission, you can have sleeve and collar grips for better control.

Final Thoughts

The omoplata is an effective submission with various diverse options to get to and from it. This submission is one of the most popular submission’s in BJJ and should be on the curriculum for every BJJ student.