The Omoplata: A History and How To

The Omoplata is, in definition, a shoulder lock with one’s legs. Omoplata in Portuguese literally translates to “Shoulder lock.” Although this position is popular today, it was not always so. It was first introduced to Brazil in the 1930s from either Judo or Catch Wrestling – the origin is not known. It was considered too complicated and not very effective; the submission style position was still taught throughout academies. In the early 1970s, the move was ruled as a submission only technique and was not allowed as a set up for sweeps.

Nowadays this position is much more popular and utilized.

Entries into the Omoplata

One of the most popular entries into the Omoplata position is from the full guard. After we break our opponent’s posture, we need to trap at least one arm so their hand is outside of our body. It is important to maintain this position. With the same-side hand control your opponent’s wrist and ensure it stays on your hip. With your other hand hold above the elbow of that same-side arm.

With the arm secured I like to open my guard, and place my feet on the hips. I push off the hip of the opposite side of the arm I am controlling, and at the same time throw my other leg up towards their shoulder. The foot that pushed off the hip can also be used on the mat to help you turn so that you can turn a full 180 degrees.

The whole time maintaining that control of the arm. First with the wrist, then as you turn fully, using your body to hold the hand in place. That near side hand will stretch over the back of your opponent to ensure they do not roll out of the position (a natural counter).

Cross the feet, and straighten your legs to keep the pressure on the shoulder, and to keep your opponent face down.

Another great entry comes from the rubber guard. The rubber guard position was made popular by 10th Planet’s founder, Eddie Bravo. The rubber guard also comes from the full guard position and is used as a great form of control. The position includes, like previously, a broken-down posture, and an arm trapped on the outside of the bottom player’s body. That same side leg is over top of the opponent and held in place with the opposite arm.

The guard player will then transition their arm to the other side of their opponent’s head, re-gripping the leg with that same supinated grip. The other foot should be on your opponent’s hip. From this position, we can see how the Omoplata will come. Your opponent will fear the foot crossing their face for a potential Gogoplata attempt, or just the uncomfortable pressure of the position. The reaction is to move away from the pressure. With this, let go of the leg, turn your body, and shoot your leg forward, pushing your opponent into position.

Like before, maintain the arm position, and straighten your crossed legs in order to keep them face down, and ready for the kill.

How to Finish the Omoplata

So, the traditional finish from this position is to S-mount the legs, and lean forward. Sitting back, we can keep the hand pinch in the hip pocket. It is easiest to flatten your opponent completely first. With the hand that is across their back and on the hips, scoot your butt away, keeping your feet planted, and pull their hips, flattening them out.

From here it becomes easy to bend your back leg first, then with your free hand, grab your shin of the leg that is holding the lock, and pull it back so your foot connects with your other knee. In a diagonal direction, bring your head over your opponent’s head, and get the tap.

A common defence to the Omoplata is to sit back and posture up. As long as the Omoplata is maintained, we can still finish our opponent from here.

Keep your legs locked in a figure-four. Hip out, and slide down your opponent’s arm slightly, this will maintain the lock. As your opponent tried to move around this will make it easier to move with them.

Reach up towards the collar with your outside hand to their opposite side collar, across their neck. With your near side hand under-hook their outside arm. Keep hipping out and reach this hand deeper. The goal is to come deep under their arm and behind their neck. This will tighten the choke that your other grip on the collar is producing, and this will earn you the tap.

How to Sweep with the Omoplata

Along with finishes, the Omoplata is a great position to use in order to get a sweep. A great sweep from the Omoplata comes off of a counter to your opponent’s counter.

Sometimes, when someone is setting up the Omoplata before you can throw your arm across your opponent’s back to prevent them from rolling, they used the space as an opportunity to jump over you. So, instead of rolling forward over their shoulder, they will get up on their toes, and jump over your head to the other side of your body, and obtain side control.

As they jump over you, hook a hand on your opponent’s leg, and allow their momentum to carry you over. This will reverse the position, and once you are top, straighten your leg to clear the arm, and secure tight side control.

Omoplata Instructional

The world of instructionals is a bit of a minefield. Unfortunately, the ratio between good and bad is a little skewed, especially when it comes to the Omoplata. However, there is one instructional that really stands out from the rest and that is Bradley Hill’s Omoplata Instructional.

Brad’s nickname is the Omoplata Man and it’s pretty easy to see why. The Braulio Estima black belt knows this position like the back of his hand.

This instructional features 4 chapters – 

  • Chapter 1: Transitions
  • Chapter 2: Finishes
  • Chapter 3: Entries
  • Chapter 4: Omoplata Bars

Each one of these chapters features around 6 to 8 individual moves that Bradley goes into great detail with.

These instructionals feature some of the highest quality camera work from any instructional I’ve ever watched and also comes at an incredibly reasonable price.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this instructional you can buy it here.


Sweeps from the Omoplata can come from multiple ways, and so will finishes. Start using this position, and you will find yourself in a dominant controlling position that will give your opponents a lot of trouble. The Omoplata has come a long way since the days of thinking it was ineffective, or only a submission position. Men like Clark Gracie, Ryan Hall, and Zack Maxwell have made the Omoplata infamous, and continue to grow the uses for the deadly position.

About the author


Richard Presley

A purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Richard is the owner and primary writer of Attack The back. Check out my About Me Page to learn more!

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