BJJ Poll: Which is a Bigger Accomplishment – an Armbar or a Triangle?

by Caleb on October 16, 2011

Once we’re down the road a bit in our BJJ careers, we begin figuring out what each one of us is good at. Some of us tend to favor certain submissions over others, playing from bottom or top, etc. But this week’s poll question gets at the difference between an armbar submission on your opponent and a triangle submission: which is a bigger accomplishment, all things being equal? Forget what skill level your opponent is, whether he or she is bigger or smaller than you. Forget everything except the nature of the submissions themselves in the poll question: an armbar or a triangle. Which is a bigger deal to pull off?

Let us know your thoughts by voting in the poll here and feel free to tell us more about why you think the way you do in the comment section to this post.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Anders October 16, 2011 at 9:13 pm

I’m going to say triangle because there are far more ways of setting up, hitting and finishing an armbar (at least that I’m aware of) than there are triangle variants.

Liam Wandi October 17, 2011 at 12:53 am

“You can break an opponent’s arm, but they will still fight you, but no one can fight after being choked out” Helio Gracie*

*(more or less)

slideyfoot October 17, 2011 at 5:32 am

I’m voting from the very simplistic perspective that while I occasionally manage to land a triangle, I pretty much never get armbars. Of course, my subs are pretty crappy in general, so that isn’t saying much. :)

Dustin October 17, 2011 at 6:48 am

This is very subjective, completely depends on the individual.

Author_of _The_Lazy_Man's_Guide_to_Grappling October 17, 2011 at 7:18 am

I’m with Slidey. I can lock on a triangle “occasionally,” but I Never, Ever can get an armbar from the guard.

I can’t even get one on completely new guys. I guess everyone is watching too much UFC.

Derek October 17, 2011 at 2:42 pm

It would be interesting to determine the level of practitioner wrt the poll. I’m intermediate and find armbars hard to get as opposed to triangle.

Jay F October 17, 2011 at 4:25 pm

I’m surprised that most find the triangle easier to land than the arm bar. I can land arm bars all day (meaning it is one of my go to moves, not that I am some great grappler). However, I very rarely land triangles. When I do it is usually setup from the mount position, almost never from guard. Possibly because I am short at 5′-8″?

In my opinion, when I get caught in an arm bar I am always left wondering if I could have held out longer and escaped. When I get in a triangle though, I know I was beat no questions asked. So I pride myself in landing triangles more. Most likely because I suck at them though.

PhilQNY October 17, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I think any form of choke is my biggest accomplishment in securing a submission while rolling. I love chokes! You can have flexible joints… but if you can not breath, it’s tap or nap.

bjjwarrior October 18, 2011 at 5:50 pm

Very interesting, but also very subjective question (which is probably what I find interesting).

The real answer for me will always depend on who I’m rolling with. If I’m just thinking of people my size I find Triangles easier to come by. One reason for this (I believe) is because my academy teaches the single-underhook pass as it’s ‘basic’ guard pass, which lends itself well to the Triangle if the proper measures aren’t taken.

Also, we tend to teach a lot of armbars. Because we know them, we also know when we are about to get caught in one. That means that people tend to be a bit better at defending them.

Because of those factors, armbars tend to be more of an acomplishment.

However, it would probably be safe to say that if another pass was taught as the ‘basic’, and triangles were taught more than armbars, it could easily be the opposite.

Anne October 21, 2011 at 7:20 am

I agree with Anders. To my knowledge, there are many more ways to set up and finish an arm bar than a triangle. For that reason, it may be more statistically likely to finish an arm bar in general than a triangle.

That being said, the question was posed in a more subjective way, asking which one (I thought) was a bigger accomplishment. In this case I would still go with the triangle, because I finish them more seldom than arm bars, given my reasoning above.

zegrapplez October 23, 2011 at 8:54 am

as a smaller fighter/in a lighter weigh class, i think it takes more technique for me to finish the armbar than the triangle. the triangle i can use more leverage/both my legs to finish, the armbar, feels like a tougher submission for me to get

pKleff October 29, 2011 at 9:45 am

I agree w/ zegrapplez. I’m smaller as well, & pretty much feel exactly the same. I get more triangle than armbars, & find them a lot easier to finish. I think this is common for small guys who developed their guard first. For me, I started getting triangles consistently way before I even started to get sweeps consistently. I think a lot of small guys develop opposite from the way we are taught, which is position before submission, & develop their submissions before they learn to progress & control from position to position well. This is probably not preferred, but that is how it worked out for me.

Ernie October 31, 2011 at 12:05 am

Neither, it’s whatever your opponent gives you. The art of BJJ is recognizing his weaknesses and capitalizing right?

Butternut December 6, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Armbar is my backup if the triangle fails, its an easy switch.. I find it really hard to hit a triangle if an armbar fails though..

Also inverted triangles, from the back and what not make you feel like the boss if u land them.. I find a lot of guys can land a triangle but dont know how to finish properly (move towards the bent knee and applying pressure using the glutes and quads) which makes me feel as though its more technical..

The whole choking your opponent unconcious as opposed to simply breaking their arm is also a good point in my opinion..

John January 12, 2012 at 7:43 am

I would say triange for two reasons:

1 – triangle is a more effective technique, if you have it on, your opponent can no longer resist

2. – the triangle is hard to do on guys much bigger, with big shoulders and neck. if you can submit big guys like this with triangles, i think it is a bigger accomplishment

Weaself January 14, 2012 at 5:37 am

A feel more satisfied with doing successful triangles than successful armbars. Moreover, if an opponent doesn’t or just can’t tap, while triangled they simply pass out, but while receiving an armbar, they may be seriously injured.

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