Exploring The Punch Choke In BJJ

As the game progresses, more techniques are being developed, requiring complex maneuvers. While this may be true in modern BJJ, simple techniques can still be effective in catching your opponents off guard. Roger Gracie, considered by many as the BJJ GOAT, is a prime example of how fundamentals work even at the highest level of competition. This article will explore an unconventional yet straightforward way to choke your opponents out. We’ll go over the classic punch choke.


What Is The Punch Choke?

The punch choke is a submission that uses the knuckles to disrupt the opponent’s blood flow. Like any strangle, this submission targets the carotid arteries in the neck and can be set up from different positions in both Gi and No-Gi.


Gi Punch Choke


The punch choke is usually set up from the closed guard and mount. A setup from the closed guard can be done by trapping the opponent’s arm with an overhook. Assuming you’re in the bottom closed guard, you can use your left arm to trap the opponent’s right arm by overhooking it and pinching your elbow down as you reach for the opponent’s left collar. Doing so will make it difficult for the opponent to posture up, and even stalling from this position can be easier as the opponent will find it hard to escape, regardless of whether you attempt a submission.

As you set up the punch choke, secure a deep grip on the opponent’s collar. You can do this by using your right hand to pull down on the opponent’s left collar as you adjust your grip with your left hand. From here, the opponent can hardly use their left arm to defend, as they will be focused on using it to post on the mat to keep their balance and posture. After establishing the grip, you can use your right arm to pull the opponent’s head down.

The key to this punch choke is to work off to the side. Now that the opponent’s posture is broken, you can open your guard, scoot to your left side, and lock your guard back in. If the opponent’s neck is available, you can use your right hand to grab inside the opponent’s right collar with four fingers in. The idea is to pull across the opponent’s collar using your left hand (bottom underhooking arm) while your right hand grabs inside the opponent’s collar and punches to the side of their neck (stiff arm) with an overall pull-push motion.

Although, after securing the cross-collar grip with an overhook, grapplers commonly experience issues such as the opponent tucking their head near their chest to prevent them from applying the punch choke grip or using their left hand (freehand) to hand fight and stopping your right hand from reaching their right collar. When this happens, you can use the back side of their collar by grabbing it using your right hand with thumbs in and four fingers out.

By grabbing behind their collar, you may move your right forearm over their head and frame it on the right side of the opponent’s neck to block their artery. From here, you may finish the punch choke; if not, you may return to the original setup with four fingers in and thumb outside as you drive your knuckles on the right side of the opponent’s neck.

Furthermore, if you are a fan of triangle chokes, you may set it up from here as a second option. To do so, secure the overhook cross-collar grip to secure the position and use your right hand to apply a C grip on the opponent’s left bicep (opponent’s free arm). Doing so allows you to frame the opponent’s free arm away. Slowly open your guard and keep your left leg (top leg) tightly pinching across the opponent’s back.

Use your right leg (bottom leg) and scoop it inside the opponent’s left arm as you slowly let go of the C grip. Shoot up your legs and lock in the triangle. Typically, from here, you should free the overhook cross collar grip and switch your grips by pulling the opponent’s head down to lock in the submission. This setup is ideal, especially for grapplers with a stocky build who can’t shoot out their legs quickly for the triangle.


No-Gi Punch Choke

This variation of the punch choke is done from the top half guard, with the top player forcing a cross face and dropping their weight on the opponent’s upper body. When in this position, the opponent’s goal is to get an underhook. The underhook is used to set up sweeps or to wrestle up. Assuming you’re passing on the opponent’s right side from the top half guard with a cross face, as soon as the opponent manages to pop an underhook using their left arm, slowly change your angle to lay on top of the opponent to flatten them while maintaining their half guard. As you do this, use your head to close the distance between the opponent’s left shoulder (far shoulder) and their chin, effectively baiting the opponent into taking the underhook to achieve your position and setting up the choke.

Now, while positioned on top of the opponent and still in their half guard, maintain your left arm cross-face and shoot the punch choke on the opposite side. Secure the punch choke grip by using your left hand to grab your right forearm, then turn and look at it while pushing yourself down the opponent’s body, increasing the pressure on their neck.



The punch choke is an underrated yet highly effective submission technique. If you are adept at executing the Ezekiel choke, the punch choke may align well with your skills, offering a similar element of surprise and effectiveness. Experiment with how it integrates into your game, as it can potentially leave your opponents unprepared and vulnerable.

This technique exemplifies the value of simplicity in BJJ, proving that fundamental techniques maintain their potency and relevance even in the complexity of modern grappling. Embracing the punch choke not only expands your submission arsenal but also deepens your appreciation for the art’s roots in leveraging basic, efficient movements to achieve control and victory on the mats.


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