The Best BJJ Submissions (According to Data)

November 27, 2023
The data paints a clear picture: while innovation and creativity have their place, the tried-and-true techniques of BJJ continue to prove their effectiveness time and time again.

We analyzed 7,567 submissions over the past 8 years to determine once and for all... which BJJ submission is the most effective in a competitive setting.

From armbars to rear-naked chokes, these classic submissions in jiu-jitsu not only boast higher success rates but also offer a safer path to victory, especially at elite levels. While innovation has its place, as seen in Craig Jones' creative toehold at Quintet 4, the numbers reveal that mastering the basics remains the most reliable strategy for success, whether you're competing in Gi or No Gi.

Key Insights

  • The Armbar, RNC (Rear Naked Choke), Triangle Choke, Guillotine, and Kimura submissions collectively make up over 56% of all submissions in the total sample.
  • The Armbar alone accounts for nearly 20% of all submissions, making it the most commonly used technique in the total sample. It also has a 50% finishing rate in our measurable sample with 68 finishes out of 137 attempts.
  • While Collar Chokes make up only 3.75% of the total sample, they were by far the most successful submission in our measurable sample with a 75% finishing rate over 99 total attempts.
  • Despite being one of the most attempted submissions in our total sample, the guillotine had the lowest success rate in our measurable sample with only 9.52% successful finishes over 105 attempts.
  • The RNC is a highly effective submission accounting for 15% of our total sample and a finishing rate of 42% out of 132 attempts in our measurable sample.

Methodology

I gathered all of the available data from grappling competitions in 2022-2023 including ADCC, WNO, IBJJF, Polaris, and Quintet 4. I also used some samples used in other studies including the Grappling USA and High % Martial Arts studies. Using this data, I was able to create 2 main datasets: one dataset which covers the entire sample of successful submissions, and the other, smaller, dataset where I was able to track the number of successes/ failures and attempts of each submission.

My objective is to understand which submissions are working at the elite levels so I can focus my training efforts on submissions that actually work. Although the data is not perfect, this exercise helps visualize the overall trend of successful submissions used in BJJ competitions.

Here is the data I'm working with:

Overall Sample Size: 7,567

Sample Size of 'Measurable' Submissions: 1,407 (i.e., submissions where I was able to track the successful/ failed and total attempts)

# of Different Submissions in Sample: 86

The Most Effective Jiu Jitsu Submissions (According to My Sample)

According to my sample, the most successful submissions are the collar choke, armbar and RNC.

Looking a little bit closer, we can see that 53% of all finishes came from chokes while the remaining 47% of finishes was split pretty evenly between the arms and legs.

Now, lets dive into each of the most effect submissions.

1. Collar Choke

Total Attempts in Sample: 284 (3.75%)

Success rate in Measurable Sample: 75.76% (75/99 attempts)

As the victim of multiple collar chokes, I can say that they are an effective submission in any grappler's toolkit. In competitions such as the IBJJF Worlds and Brasileiros, a significant percentage of submission victories were achieved using a "choke from the back," many of which can be assumed to involve collar chokes. 66/89 or 75% of all attempted collar chokes were successful at IBJJF Worlds in 2019.

Multiple variations of collar chokes exist for different positions and situations, making it a versatile technique. Some common collar chokes include:

  • Cross Collar Choke
  • Bow and Arrow Choke
  • Clock Choke
  • Paper Cutter
  • Loop Choke

2. Armbar

Total Attempts in Sample: 1,475 (19.49%)

Success rate in Measurable Sample: 49.64% (68/137 attempts)

The armbar is the most attempted submission in our sample, making up 19.49% of all attempts.

I've found that its success rate varies between Gi and No Gi.

For instance, during the 2019 IBJJF Worlds, which is a Gi-only tournament, the armbar had a 30% success rate (21/70), making up 17% of the total submission attempts in the tournament. While during No Gi competitions in 2022, only 7 out of 30 armbars attempted were successful. In 2023 (so far), the armbar has a 20% success rate in competition (5/20 attempts).

A study by High Percentage Martial Arts shows similar data: 60% (73/121) armbars were finished in the Gi, while 48 out of 121 were successfully executed in No Gi.

3. Rear Naked Choke (RNC)

Total Attempts in Sample: 1,091 (14.42%)

Success rate in Measurable Sample: 42.42% (56/132 attempts)

Most Popular in UFC: Accounts for 42% of all submission victories from 2015-2023

I find the Rear Naked Choke (RNC) to be one of the most basic and widely-known submissions in BJJ. RNC is the most popular submission victory in the UFC by far, making it a vital part of any MMA athlete or grappler's arsenal. In my experience, the RNC seems to be more effective in No Gi competitions.

Based on my observations, a few noteworthy statistics show the importance of the RNC in various competitions:

  • In a No Gi competition in 2022, 16 out of 46 RNC attempts were successful, while so far in 2023, 19 out of 44 RNC attempts were successful.
  • Had a 37% success rate at ADCC 2022.

From the study done by High Percentage Martial Arts, 60 RNCs were analyzed:

  • 49 of the RNCs were finished in No Gi competitions.
  • Only 11 of the RNCs were finished in Gi competitions.

4. Triangle Choke

Total Attempts in Sample: 718 (9.49%)

Success rate in Measurable Sample: 38% (38/ 100 attempts)

Variations: Side triangle had a 40% success rate in ADCC 2022

The triangle choke is one of the more iconic BJJ submissions. This stranglehold submission is the third most attempted technique in our sample, constituting 9.49% of submissions. Based on a study by High Percentage Martial Arts, 45 out of 70 successful triangle chokes were finished in Gi competitions, while 25 were finished in No Gi.

As for the 2022 No Gi competitions, 7 out of 25 triangles were successful. In ADCC 2022, 3 out of 16 triangle attempts were successful. Moving to Gi competitions, 28 out of 45 triangle chokes succeeded at the IBJJF Worlds in 2019.

Now let's talk about some variations of the technique. For instance, the side triangle had a 40% success rate in ADCC 2022, with 2 out of 5 attempts being successful. The beautiful thing is you can set up a triangle choke from closed guard, side control, and even mount!

5. Bow And Arrow Choke

Total Attempts in Sample: 186 (2.46%)

Success rate in Measurable Sample: 89% (17/19 attempts)

I find the Bow and Arrow choke to be one of the most effective jiu-jitsu submissions in the Gi.

It's no surprise that the Bow and Arrow choke, in particular, has a high success rate in high-level competitions. For example, at the IBJJF Worlds in 2019, the Bow and Arrow was successfully executed in 17 out of 19 attempts. This impressive 90% finish rate highlights the effectiveness of this submission in competitive BJJ environments.

6. Ezekiel Choke

Total Attempts in Sample: 174 (2.3%)

Success rate in Measurable Sample: 47.37% (9/19 attempts)

In recent years, the Ezekiel choke has made a significant impact in prestigious events such as the ADCC, IBJJF Worlds, and the UFC. For instance, during ADCC 2022, we saw a 100% success rate for Ezekiel choke attempts with two out of two being executed flawlessly. In the 2023 Brasileiros, this choke accounted for 10% of submission finishes. At the IBJJF Worlds in 2019, four out of six Ezekiel choke attempts were successful, showing its continued prevalence in the jiu-jitsu world.

I find the Ezekiel choke particularly exciting because it can be quite savage, with options from both top and bottom that a BJJ practitioner can master in both gi and no-gi situations.

While the Ezekiel choke's application in grappling competitions is impressive, let's not forget its use in MMA. Alexei Oleynik, a UFC fighter, has secured two Ezekiel choke finishes in his career, demonstrating the technique's versatility beyond the mats of BJJ competitions.

7. Heel Hook

Total Attempts in Sample: 459 (5.5%)

  • Inside HH: 144
  • Outside HH: 120
  • Heel Hook (not specified): 173

Total Success rate in Measurable Sample: 20% (38/190 attempts)

  • Inside HH: 34.85% (23/66)
  • Outside HH: 10/71 (14.08%)
  • Heel Hook (not specified): 5/53 (9.43%)

Popularized by the DDS and prevalent in No Gi competitions. Heel hooks are a powerful and versatile submission, accounting for 12 out of 22 submission victories in the WNO format in 2021. In No-Gi competition in 2022, it was the most attempted submission, with 69 out of 355 submission attempts and a success rate of 19% (13 out of 69). In 2023 (so far), there have been 68 successful heel hooks, with a success rate of 30% (20/68 attempts) out of 397 total submission attempts.

We can see in the data that Inside Heel Hooks are the more attempted and successful variation of the leg lock.

8. Kimura

Total Attempts in Sample: 455 (6%)

Success rate in Measurable Sample: 23.44% (15/64 attempts)

The Kimura is one of the most popular arm submissions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and can be an effective tool for passing half guard. This technique is both versatile and effective, which explains its frequent use in various grappling competitions.

I noticed that the Kimura seems to be more successful in gi competitions than in no-gi. For example, at the IBJJF Worlds in 2019, 12 out of 15 successful kimuras were performed in Gi matches. This could be attributed to the additional grips and control the GI offers, making it easier to secure the submission. However, the technique is still effective in both formats.

Here are some interesting statistics related to the Kimura submission:

  • Among our sample, the Kimura ranks as the fourth most attempted, accounting for approximately 6% of all attempts.
  • In the ADCC 2022 competition, there was a 1 in 6 success rate for kimuras.
  • Comparatively, the success rate of Kimuras in no-gi competitions in 2022 was 1 in 20.
  • In 2023, Kimuras have similar results with only 1 out of 22 attempts being successful/
  • A study by High Percentage Martial Arts revealed that out of 25 successful kimuras, 12 were executed in gi matches, and 13 in no-gi matches.

These stats suggest that although the Kimura's effectiveness may vary depending on the competition format, it remains a crucial part of any grappler's arsenal. The technique's versatility makes it a valuable control position. So, whether you're competing in gi or no-gi, incorporating the Kimura in your game plan can significantly improve your overall submission strategy.

9. Guillotine

Total Attempts in Sample: 499 (6.59%)

Success rate in Measurable Sample: 9.52% (10/105)

Second Most Popular in UFC: Accounts for 17% of all submission victories

The guillotine choke is an essential part of my arsenal. It accounts for a significant percentage of submission attempts in mixed martial arts competitions, including the UFC, where it is the second most successful submission. It is the fifth most attempted submission in our sample at 6.59%.

I've noticed that success rates for the guillotine choke can vary between Gi and No Gi competitions. In a study I came across, only 5 out of 25 guillotines in Gi matches were successful, while 20 out of 25 were successful in No Gi matches. This shows how the type of competition and format can affect the success rate.

During 2022, I observed a low success rate for guillotines in No Gi competitions, with only 4 out of 43 attempts being successful. Similarly, at the ADCC 2022 event, just 3 out of 32 attempted guillotines resulted in submission wins.

In 2023, the trend continues as only 2 out of 29 attempted guillotines were successful.

10. Americana

Total Attempts in Sample: 334 (4.41%)

Success rate in Measurable Sample: 70% (7/10 attempts)

The Americana is one of the first submissions white belts learn. Also known as bent armlock, keylock, top wristlock, and figure four armlock in catch wrestling, or ude garami in judo, this move consists of controlling an opponent's arm bent in an "L" shape using double wrist control, leaving their elbow and shoulder joints vulnerable source.

Despite having a 0% success rate in the No Gi competition in 2022, it's still the sixth-largest submission in our sample. Surprisingly enough, the American had a 100% success rate at IBJJF Worlds in 2019 going 6 for 6.

11. Straight Ankle Lock

Total Attempts in Sample: 400 (5.29%)

Success rate in Measurable Sample: 18.52% (25/135 attempts)

The straight ankle lock is a popular technique in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, commonly utilized at tournaments in lower belt levels where heel hooks are not legal. Despite being one of the most attempted submissions in our measurable sample, the success rate was surprisingly low. Here are some interesting stats:

  • Gi competitions: 8 out of 31 ankle locks were successful
  • No-Gi competitions: 23 out of 31 ankle locks proved effective
  • ADCC: Out of 13 attempts, none were successful
  • IBJJF 2019 Worlds: 21 out of 42 attempts were successful
  • 2013 so far: Has the lowest success rate in 2023, with only 3.57%

When it comes to submission finishes, the Ankle Lock made up 10% at the 2023 Brasileiros. This percentage might not be incredibly high, but it demonstrates that the technique can be a powerful weapon in a Gi player's arsenal.

12. Arm Triangle

Total Attempts in Sample: 245 (3.24%)

Success rate in Measurable Sample: 21.74% (5/23 attempts)

Personally, the arm triangle choke is one of my favorite submissions right now. It ranks as the 4th most successful submission in the UFC, having a total of 92 submission victories since 2015. In fact, one memorable moment was when Brock Lesnar choked out Shane Carwin at UFC 116 using the arm triangle.

Despite its popularity in competitions such as the UFC, the success rate of arm triangle submissions can vary across different events. At the IBJJF Worlds in 2019, 50% of the arm triangles attempted were successful. However, at ADCC 2022, not a single one of the five arm triangles attempted turned out successful.

The Least Effective BJJ Submissions

Now I'm sure you're wondering what the least effective submissions are. Here you go:

Buggy Choke

  • Success: 0
  • Failed: 15
  • Total Attempts: 15
  • Success Rate: 0.00%

Inverted Armbar

  • Success: 3
  • Failed: 26
  • Total Attempts: 29
  • Success Rate: 10.34%

Toe Hold

  • Success: 8
  • Failed: 67
  • Total Attempts: 75
  • Success Rate: 10.67%

D'arce

  • Success: 2
  • Failed: 16
  • Total Attempts: 18
  • Success Rate: 11.11%

Omoplata

  • Success: 4
  • Failed: 29
  • Total Attempts: 33
  • Success Rate: 12.12%

Other Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Submissions

Here is a list of the remaining BJJ submissions that were successfully completed in our sample.

Chokes

  • Brabo choke
  • D’arce choke
  • North-south choke
  • Cutter choke
  • Baseball bat choke
  • Lapel choke
  • Anaconda choke
  • Clock choke
  • Von flue choke
  • Loop choke
  • Ninja choke
  • Punch choke
  • Crucifix choke
  • Inverted triangle
  • Buggy choke
  • Peruvian necktie
  • Japanese necktie
  • Canto choke
  • Gogoplata
  • Bulldog choke
  • Thrust choke
  • Neck crank
  • Face crank

Arm and Shoulder Locks

  • Monoplata
  • Bicep slicer
  • Omoplata
  • Wrist lock
  • Mir lock
  • Hammerlock
  • Scorpion lock
  • Inverted armbar
  • Triangle armbar

Leg Locks

  • Kneebar
  • Calf slicer
  • Toehold
  • Aoki lock
  • Outside heel hook
  • Inside heel hook

Wrapping Up

The data paints a clear picture: while innovation and creativity have their place, the tried-and-true techniques of BJJ continue to prove their effectiveness time and time again. Whether you're a budding white belt or a seasoned black belt, the numbers don't lie. Stick to the fundamentals, and you'll find that the path to submission victory is often less complicated than you might think.

References

https://bjjpassion.com/highest-percentage-submissions-for-gi-in-bjj-competition-2019-ibjjf-worlds/

https://www.flograppling.com/articles/10249567-by-the-numbers-50-submission-rate-at-tezos-wno-in-2022

https://web.archive.org/web/20201111203518/https://www.highpercentagemartialarts.com/blog/2019/8/8/definitive-list-of-high-percentage-submissions

https://www.bjjheroes.com/editorial/crunching-numbers

https://ibjjf.com/news/2023-world-championships-submission-breakdown

https://thegrapplingconjecture.blogspot.com/2023/01/the-year-in-nogi-grappling-2022.html

https://www.dirtywhitebelt.com/2017/02/27/all-time-most-common-submissions-at-us-grappling/

https://ibjjf.com/news/2023-brasileiros-submission-report

https://bjj-world.com/highest-percentage-brazilian-jiu-jitsu-submissions/

https://ibjjf.com/news/2023-world-championships-submission-breakdown

https://thegrapplingconjecture.blogspot.com/2022/12/adcc-2022-meta-pt1-submission-city.html

https://evolve-mma.com/blog/10-most-effective-and-high-success-rate-bjj-submissions/