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Armlock vs. Armbar: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on November 10, 2023
An armlock is a general term for joint locks on the arm, while an armbar specifically hyperextends the elbow joint.

Key Differences

An armlock encompasses a variety of joint locks applied to the arm, targeting different joints like the shoulder, elbow, or wrist. An armbar, in contrast, is a specific type of armlock focused on hyperextending the opponent's elbow.
The term "armlock" is used in martial arts to refer to any technique that immobilizes the arm by applying pressure to joints. "Armbar," specifically, is a technique where one leverages their legs or arms against the opponent's arm, extending the elbow joint beyond its normal range of motion.
Armlocks can be applied in multiple ways, using leverage and body position to control or cause pain to an opponent. An armbar is executed by positioning oneself perpendicular to the opponent, using the hips and legs to extend the elbow.
The effectiveness of an armlock depends on the joint targeted and the technique used, suitable for various defensive or offensive strategies. The armbar, with its focus on the elbow, is highly effective in submissions, making it a popular move in sports like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA.
Training in armlocks covers a broad range of techniques, providing versatility in combat situations. Training specifically in armbars focuses on mastering the mechanics of elbow joint manipulation, crucial for executing effective submissions.

Comparison Chart


General term for various joint locks on arm
Specific technique hyperextending elbow joint

Target Joints

Can target shoulder, elbow, or wrist
Specifically targets the elbow joint

Technique Variety

Includes multiple techniques
One specific technique

Usage in Martial Arts

Broad range of defensive/offensive moves
Focused on submissions

Training Focus

Covers a range of joint manipulation
Concentrates on elbow joint manipulation

Armlock and Armbar Definitions


A technique to control or cause pain by locking the arm.
The armlock was effective in subduing the assailant.


Used to submit an opponent in martial arts.
She won the match with a perfectly executed armbar.


Involves leverage and body positioning.
The armlock required precise body positioning to be effective.


Involves using legs or arms to extend the elbow.
He applied the armbar using his legs for leverage.


A general term for joint locks that immobilize the arm.
He applied an armlock to control his opponent.


Targets the elbow joint for submissions.
The armbar is a common move in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.


Used in martial arts for defense or offense.
His proficiency in armlocks made him a formidable fighter.


Executed by positioning perpendicular to the opponent.
Proper positioning is key to a successful armbar.


Can target various joints like the shoulder or wrist.
She used an armlock that focused on the shoulder joint.


A technique specifically hyperextending the elbow joint.
The fighter tapped out due to the armbar.


A hold in wrestling and martial arts in which the opponent's arm is immobilized, often by flexing or extending the opponent's elbow or shoulder joint.


(combat sports) A joint lock where the elbow is hyperextended in order to cause pain or injury.


A wrestling move in which the opponent's arm is held immobile.


To apply this kind of joint lock.


Any of several distinct attacks against an opponent’s arm in martial arts.


Power to control or heavily influence something or someone.


(transitive) To hold in an armlock.


Does an armbar only target the elbow joint?

Yes, the armbar specifically hyperextends the elbow joint.

Is an armbar a type of armlock?

Yes, an armbar is a specific form of armlock.

Are armlocks used in various martial arts?

Yes, armlocks are used in many martial arts for control or submission.

Can armlocks be defensive techniques?

Yes, armlocks can be used defensively to control an attacker.

Is the armbar primarily used for submissions?

Yes, the armbar is mainly used to submit opponents in combat sports.

Is the armbar popular in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu?

Yes, the armbar is a staple technique in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Can an armlock target joints other than the elbow?

Yes, armlocks can target the shoulder, elbow, or wrist.

Do armlocks require strength or technique?

Armlocks rely more on technique and leverage than brute strength.

Are armlocks suitable for self-defense?

Yes, armlocks can be effective in self-defense situations.

Do armlocks require flexibility?

Some armlocks may require flexibility for effective application.

Is the armbar difficult to escape?

Yes, a well-executed armbar can be very difficult to escape.

Can armlocks lead to injury?

If applied incorrectly, armlocks can cause injury.

Can the armbar be applied from various positions?

Yes, the armbar can be applied from multiple positions.

Is the armbar effective in MMA?

Yes, the armbar is a highly effective submission technique in MMA.

Are armlocks legal in all martial arts competitions?

The legality of armlocks varies depending on the rules of the competition.

Do armlocks require body positioning skills?

Yes, effective armlocks require proper body positioning.

Can beginners learn the armbar?

Yes, beginners can learn the armbar, but it requires practice.

Is the armbar used in judo?

Yes, the armbar is also used in judo.

Is the armbar mainly an offensive technique?

Yes, the armbar is primarily used offensively to submit an opponent.

Can armlocks be used in real-life combat situations?

Yes, armlocks can be effective in real-life self-defense or combat scenarios.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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