The arm drag is one of the most fundamental moves in Greco-roman wrestling, and it’s really useful in BJJ as well. It can be used both standings, and from guard, and offers a quick and easy route to the back.
You can use the arm drag in both gi and no-gi. It doesn’t require a lot of strength, either, just speed and commitment. When someone goes for a grip or a collar tie, catch their arm, reach across, cup their triceps and drag. Between you pulling them forward and your own stepping motion, you’ll end up clearing their side and can go for a body lock takedown. If you do an arm drag from guard, then you can keep your opponents posture broken afterward, and then take their back.
The arm drag is a great move not just for in jiu-jitsu, but for day to day situations. Even if you don’t go around picking fights, having the option to arm drag your way past someone who is obstructing you is a good idea for self-defense situations. If you are being threatened and don’t want to resort to violence, use the arm drag to create space, and move past the person.
You can drill arm drags more easily than throws or takedowns, and you don’t even need a matted area. It’s something you can do anywhere, even with an untrained friend, and still get the value of drilling properly.
Once you’ve mastered the arm drag, you can look at body lock takedowns, pulling someone down so that you have the hooks and have their back, attacking the turtle, and other useful follow-ons.
Armdrags are just one option when it comes to takedowns and wrestling, but they’re a handy skill to have. If you’re concerned about your stand-up and you don’t want to be in front of someone who is going to try to take you down then you only have a few options – take them down first, pull guard, or get to their back where they’re less of a threat. Of those, pulling guard is only really an option for a specific sports ruleset, so it makes sense to consider the arm drag as an additional option. It’s smooth, comparatively fast and easy, and it will work well in a lot of situations.
A lot of people think of it as a no-gi move only, but it can work just as well in the gi. In fact, in some ways, it’s more effective because it means that you get a better grip. The friction of the gi means that even if you don’t quite cup the triceps in the right place, your hand won’t slide down their arm quite as far. That alone makes it a good option. In fact, if you compete in both gi and no-gi, why not drill it as a move that’s applicable to both instead of wasting time with collar drags and other moves that don’t translate so well when you take off the gi and spar.