How To Pendulum Sweep & Submit Your Opponent

Closed guard is one of the unique positions in BJJ, letting you fight effectively off your back. But regardless of the fact it gives options for submissions, sweeping the opponent and ending in a dominant mount I usually a better course of action. And one of the most fundamental ways of doing it is the pendulum sweep.

The pendulum sweep is a highly effective move from bottom full guard to top mount and is equally good in gi and no-gi. The initial setup allows a combination of submissions like the armbar, making it a versatile attacking option.

The pendulum sweep is a powerful and effective offensive weapon equally valued at every belt level, so regardless of where you at skill-wise, the pendulum is something you should be well versed in because it gives solid options off your back or can quickly put you there if you’re not careful.

What Is A BJJ Sweep

Sweeps are a fundamental part of BJJ as they are used to transition from a bottom position to a top one. But under the sports ruleset of jiu-jitsu, a reversal of positions is considered a sweep only if initiated from the bottom guard position, regardless of the type of guard (open, closed, half, etc.). Reversals from side control and bottom mount are not considered sweeps.

Sweeps are crucial for all BJJ players, but even more so for those who like to pull guard. The scoring system in BJJ rewards sweeps with the same number of points as a successful takedown, so many prefer to pull guard or directly sit on the ground and then look for a sweep instead of spending energy and taking the risk of shooting for a takedown.

A successful sweep relies on many factors, like securing good grips, unbalancing the opponent, leverage, and timing. A solid sweep game involves combining different sweeps with submissions and flowing them together.

A perfect example of this will be the pendulum sweep and the armbar, which work beautifully together, and how the threat of one makes the other easier to pull off.

How To Do A Pendulum Sweep

The pendulum sweep is one of the fundamental sweeps from closed guard and one of the first you will learn in any gym, But the good thing is that it will also continue to work at all levels, albeit with some more clever setups.

The name pendulum sweep comes from the motion of the legs, which swing like a pendulum. Like every other sweep, the pendulum starts with securing a grip and controlling the base points on the side you will be sweeping to.

In the case of the pendulum, this means controlling the opponent’s left wrist and right leg if you are sweeping him to the left and vice versa.

But let’s take it step by step.

  • Start by controlling the left wrist or gi sleeve of the opponent.
  • Once this is done, you could try to reach and underhook his right leg or wait for the more common scenario where he will lift the leg and step on it to stand up and break your guard.
  • Once you control both his arm and leg, it’s time to move your hips and create an angle. But to do this, you must properly pull the opponent and break his posture. The move is very similar to the start of an armbar.
  • Now swing your left leg to build up momentum. Once you reach the apex of the movement, kick back with the leg and lift the opponent lifting him through his under-hooked leg. Your other leg (not the swinging one) should be underneath the opponent’s armpit.
  • Follow through and assume mount.

With the right timing and leverage, the hip motion can help reverse even a much heavier or well-based opponent. But as with any other move, it will need diligent training and working out the many small details which can prevent you from pulling off a pendulum sweep. Chances are, it won’t work the first few times you try it.

The pendulum relies heavily on timing; the best way to do it is as a surprise. This is why it’s usually better to have a light grip on the arm because if you hold too tight, the opponent will naturally want to break the grip and pull away. 

Then, once you start the pendulum motion, most people will try to defend by turtling down. In this case, you may need to swing with the leg a few times to build more momentum. 

This sweep can be performed both in gi and no-gi and is even commonly used in MMA, but the sleeve grip in the gi requires much less energy and is easier to do than the other variations. 

Here are two excellent videos showcasing the pendulum sweep, both with a gi and no gi, in the arm drag variation.

Submissions Off A Pendulum Sweep

The pendulum sweep is a wonderful way of transitioning from closed guard to mount, but it can also be used to set up submissions. We’ll show you some of the follow-ups you can perform from the pendulum.

Armbar Pendulum

The combination of the pendulum sweep and the armbar is the most common you can do, and it’s super potent. Before we get into the armbar, it’s also worth noting that the threat of the armbar can be used to finish the sweep.

Once you swing your hips, many people will recognize the armbar pattern and duck their heads and posture forward, making the pendulum sweep even easier.

The armbar from the basic pendulum setup is relatively easy. The sequence follows the same steps in securing the grip on the arm, then undercooking the leg and moving your hips at the right angle.

The difference comes at the moment when you swing your leg up. Instead of kicking back for momentum, wrap the leg around the head of the opponent.

For the armlock finish, you can stay in the guard position or transition to the regular armbar position depending on the opponent’s reaction. If he pushes towards you to defend, the sweep becomes much easier, so you can finish in the armbar position.

Omoplata Pendulum

The Omoplata finish from the pendulum sweep uses a similar setup. Once you pivot to the side, your near-side leg is in place to transition to the Omoplata.

This is much easier in the gi, where you can use the collar to break their posture and hold the arm by the sleeve. Even if you don’t finish the submission, the sequence can become another form of a sweep and still reverse the positions.


The pendulum sweep is a safe and fundamental technique many beginners use as their go-to move from closed guard. It works well in gi and no-gi with minimal adjustments and can be set up in different ways, making it an efficient technique at all levels of experience and proficiency. 

On top of that, the move is safe, and even if it fails, it does not leave you in a worse position than before. Then we add the danger of combining it with submissions like the armbar and the Omoplata, and you see why the pendulum sweep is such an important technique in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.