Techniques in jiu-jitsu are constantly being reinvented and developed. So it’s hard to really pinpoint which techniques can be considered the ‘fanciest’. It is also something that can be subject to perspective. What is considered fancy to one person won’t exactly be considered the same by another. Below is a list of the more traditional and popular fancy techniques that have dazzled us in highlights in the past. These are definitely something you can have fun practicing to try to get the “ooh” and “ahh” out of spectators.
- Flying Armbar
This technique can easily be regarded as the classic ‘fancy move’. There have been many variations in the past, some easier to execute than others. The fanciest form was popularized by a non-BJJ practitioner from Japan, Rumina Sato, a former Shooto champion and has one of the most impressive highlight reels in MMA history. Sato pulled-off flying armbars on opponents in MMA fights while they were standing fully upright! Not only that, but he was able to execute this in an MMA match. His opponents were not only striking but they were also without a kimono – so it was very difficult to get a good grip. Since Sato, many athletes have tried and failed. If anything, we usually see blooper reels of blue belts trying to do this technique very unsuccessfully – either giving up a position or even landing on their heads and knocking themselves out.
There are safer and easier variations of doing this technique, but each version loses some of its ‘pezaz’. You will often see photos of the older Gracie figures doing a similar armbar by first stepping on their opponent’s thigh before throwing the second leg over their opponent’s head. Another popular, and more effective, option has been getting a heavy lapel grip on their opponent and making them slouch over so they almost roll into the armbar. One of the more popular examples of this variation is when Leo Santos pulled this off on Georges St. Pierre at the 2005 Abu Dhabi finals. Santos surprised GSP with a quick and smooth armbar to get the submission in under a minute. So, although these versions are not ‘flying’ any more, they are still quick and easy on the eye.
- Monkey Armbar
The monkey armbar has a lot of other names, but some call it the ‘monkey’ armbar because of how your opponent looks when the technique is being done to them. The monkey armbar is usually done from open guard when an opponent is lifted into the air (with a balloon sweep) and then twisted sideways to be caught in an armbar mid-air. The victim of this technique looks like a monkey jumping from a branch with their arm twisted out in the air. My fondest memories of seeing this technique was usually by the Gracies showing it in demos to make jiu-jitsu look a little more flashy for new students or prospective academy members. It was always considered one of the cooler moves in the jiu-jitsu game.