Arm Drag (Part 3) – What Next? 9 Follow Up Options


Arm Drag: What Next?

“How, exactly, is it done, and what does it accomplish? Are there exercises to improve my arm drag? What do I do after the arm drag?”

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One of the first things to notice is, when you pull your opponent’s right arm across you, extend your left hand to hyperextend the isolated arm. This can injure your opponent’s arm, and it can cause a minor whiplash effect on your opponent’s neck.

If your opponent has a weapon, such as a knife, in their right hand the hyperextension might cause them to drop the weapon. It’s not guaranteed, but it is a high probability. While this might not be the best option as a knife defense, it is a valid one.

Pro Tip: the tricep tendon, which connects the tricep muscle to the elbow joint, is a sweet spot for hyperextension. Make sure to cut into this tendon with your hooking hand.

Forward Sweep

In Silat, this sweep is called a “sapu dalam.” After unbalancing the opponent with the arm drag, sink your weight into your hooking hand to place an “anchor.” The anchor directs where your opponent goes when you sweep their leg.

Pro Tip: send your anchor down, not out. There may be situational reasons to direct your opponent in some direction other than down but, generally, the reason you sweep is to put your opponent on the ground.

Once you have unbalanced your opponent and anchored their arm, kick their leg out from under them. This will likely cause your opponent to fall face-first toward the ground. At the very least, it will send your opponent stumbling and provide you with the opportunity to launch other followup attacks, deal with another aggressor, draw a weapon, or exit the situation entirely.

Double Leg Takedown

The arm drag exposes the opponent’s side to you and provides a great set up for a double leg takedown. You can see a example here

After the armdrag, drop low, put your lead foot between your opponent’s feet, and push off with your rear foot to drive deeply into your opponent’s structure. Wrap your arms around your opponent’s legs and place your hands below your opponent’s knees.

Pro Tip: place your head hard against your opponent’s hip to give yourself good leverage and minimize your opponent’s ability to catch your head in a choke or neck crank.

Bring your rear foot up to the outside of your opponent’s lead leg and drive through your opponent. Your hands on the back of your opponent’s legs will prevent them from stepping back to catch their balance, and they will hit the ground pretty quickly.

Inside Trip (Kouchi Gake)

This arm drag takedown works well against bigger, stronger opponents because it incorporates a low, strong base with a lot of mass, moved by large muscle groups, directly against your opponent’s leg.

After the arm drag, step between your opponent’s legs with your lead leg. Step deep and place your lead knee on the ground with your shin and top of your foot flat. In yoga, this position is part of the “Pigeon Pose.” Place your chest against your opponent’s lead leg and drive through.

This arm drag takedown puts you into a strong position, from which you can often gain mount.

D’Arce Choke

The D’Arce choke, named after Joe D’Arce, a third-degree black belt under Renzo Gracie, is done by shooting your arm under your opponent’s arm and neck. The arm drag is a great set up for this choke because it provides the opening under your opponent’s arm you need to shoot through for the choke. Let’s say you hook your opponent’s left arm with your left hand and pull the arm drag across your body to your left. Shoot your right hand through your opponent’s left armpit, all the way past your opponent’s neck, and up. From there, extend your left arm behind your opponent’s head and clasp your left bicep with your right hand and cinch down.

Pro Tip: as you shoot your arm behind your opponent’s head, bear down with it to firmly seat their neck into the crook of your arm. To apply the choke, either pull your opponent into you and squeeze, or drive the opponent to his left, where they have no arm to base. Drive forward to put your body weight onto them and finish the choke.

Sweep from Guard

The arm drag, done slightly differently in this video, can also unbalance your opponent when they’re in your guard. This balance disruption can be used to initiate a sweep to put you into the mount position.

Assuming you hooked your opponent’s right arm and dragged it across your chest, reach behind your opponent with your left hand as far as you can, ideally into your opponent’s left armpit.

Set your left foot on the ground outside your opponent’s legs and use it as a lever to roll to your left while pressing up with your right leg.

This rolls your opponent to his back, brings you to a mounted position. This also pins your opponent’s right arm between your chest and theirs.

Rear Naked Choke

The arm drag provides ready access to your opponent’s back. Getting to your opponent’s back opens a lot of targets for you.
One of the big options from your opponent’s back is the rear naked choke. If you have dragged your opponent’s right arm, slide behind and wrap your left around your opponent’s neck. Make sure to get the crook of your elbow beneath your opponent’s chin. Place your left hand on your right bicep and slide your right hand behind your opponent’s head to complete the choke.

Pro Tip: if you clench your right hand into a fist behind your opponent’s head, you minimize the risk of your opponent getting hold of your fingers, and the fist increases the pressure on the choke.

Striking Targets from the Back

Other options once you reach your opponent’s back include striking the base of the occipital bone, known as Gall Bladder 20 in Chinese medicine and martial arts. A sharp strike to this area has a high probability to cause a knock out.

The kidney is another prime target once you get to your opponent’s back. A good punch to the kidney will cause your opponent’s lower back muscles to clench in an effort to protect the kidney. This will put your opponent in a very vulnerable position and usually expose your opponent’s neck, which can be a good set up to get to the rear naked choke.

Use Opponent as a Shield

A useful strategy when dealing with multiple opponents is to get one opponent between you and the other opponents. You can use an arm drag to get to one opponent’s back then catch the opponent in, for instance, a rear naked choke and use the opponent as a shield against incoming attacks from other opponents.

You might also use the opponent’s vulnerable structure and lack of balance to shove them toward other opponents. This tactic can create an opening to improve your own situation by getting to an exit, getting to a weapon, or buying time until your own reinforcements can arrive to help you.


I hope you have enjoyed this post. The arm drag is beautiful in its simplicity. As discussed, it creates vulnerabilities in your opponent’s structure that you can exploit in a variety of ways.

The arm drag can give you the opportunity for sweeps, locks, chokes, strikes, and more. It can be a powerful tool in your kit. Work it slow and ingrain the feeling of it through high repetition so it will serve you when you need it.

You should find the armdrag useful in your own training, regardless of your background.

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