As the great BJJ grandmaster Helio Gracie said, “when it comes to chokes, there are no tough guys”. A large and formidable opponent may resist the pain from joint locks, but they’ll surely pass out when confronted with someone skilled in using chokes. When choosing between the many types of submissions you can do, chokes are by far the best option. Today, we will discuss the seven essential chokes you should add to your game.
What Are Chokes In BJJ?
Generally, there are two types of chokes in BJJ: air and blood chokes. Air chokes block the windpipe/airway to the lungs, which denies the opponent’s ability to breathe. Typically, this type of choke causes the opponent to panic and flail before going unconscious.
On the other hand, blood chokes, which are often called strangles, are a way of disrupting the opponent’s blood flow to their brain. Blood chokes compress the opponent’s carotid arteries on the side of their neck, which can result in loss of consciousness when held long enough.
7 Essential Chokes For BJJ
According to John Danaher, submissions are the soul of Jiu-Jitsu, and the joint locks and stranglers are essential to your development as a grappler. Though in most cases, if you have to choose between the two,
go for the strangle. Below are the seven essential chokes you must add to your BJJ game.
First off the list is the king of all chokes – the rear naked choke. It’s hard to talk about Jiu-Jitsu without mentioning the rear naked choke. It is one of the signature techniques of BJJ that works well for every grappler against opponents of any size. This technique can be used in all types of combat, with or without strikes, as it offers the unfair advantage of being able to attack from behind.
The opponent will often tuck their chin when you threaten them with the rear naked choke. When this happens, use your thumb knuckle and dig behind the opponent’s ear and underneath their jaw. Even if the opponent tries to keep their chin down, you can always get your thumb knuckle under.
Use your fingers to extend and walk until the whole thumb is underneath. Once your wrist is underneath the chin, lift it as your forearm and elbow will follow. Take your whole hand behind the nape of their neck and connect with your controlling hand’s bicep to finish the choke.
The triangle choke is among the first submissions a practitioner will learn in their first year of Jiu-Jitsu. It is a versatile submission that can be done from all positions and can be made more effective when combined with the armbar.
One thing to remember when successfully applying a triangle is to keep the opponent’s head down and keep your body connected with their legs so that the opponent can’t slam you on the ground if the rules allow it. Nonetheless, the triangle choke can be one of your best options if you are a lanky grappler.
The guillotine is one of your best choking options against wrestlers, and generally against opponents who keep a hunched posture in the standup and on the ground. It is an excellent submission that can be applied from different positions like standing, sprawling, closed guard, or open guard. Depending on your way of setting it up, the guillotine can be used defensively or offensively.
Defensively, with proper timing, if the opponent shoots for a takedown with their head outside, you can catch them with the guillotine. Likewise, if the opponent tries to pass your guard with their head too low, you can always attempt the guillotine after creating space. Offensively, you can set it up by snapping the opponent’s head down and catching them with it on the way down.
The bow and arrow choke is among the most powerful chokes in BJJ; it may very well be the best choke with the gi. Because of the additional grips from the gi, you can effectively leverage your body and get better angles, making the choke more potent, like the RNC.
The bow and arrow work just as well against bigger and stronger opponents. If you are a beginner, you may think that the bow and arrow is a complex technique to pull off. Remember that once you’re on the back, you can always grab the opponent’s collar, and your grip is not required to be too deep. Start moving your body perpendicularly from then and use your other hand to get a hold of their pants to prevent the opponent from turning towards you.
The Ezekiel choke can be applied in both gi and no-gi BJJ. It is an effective choke and is sneaky, resulting in opponents getting caught without seeing it coming. The tricky part about the Ezekiel choke is that it can be applied from dominant positions as well as inferior positions like the bottom mount and bottom half-guard. Here’s proof of how the Ezekiel works even in the highest level of competition, starting from bottom side control to bottom mount.
6) Cross Collar Choke
The cross collar choke is a fundamental choking technique and is likely the first gi choke a practitioner will learn in BJJ. This choke is unique because it is among the first chokes you know but the last one to master. It is simple, versatile, and can be applied in almost all positions.
7) Loop Choke
The loop choke is another strong submission you can do in the gi. Like the guillotine, the loop choke is used to counter takedowns when the opponent’s head is too low when pressure passing. It can be used from many positions like the half-guard, closed guard, side control, when defending takedowns, or when guard passing. Remember to grab inside the opponent’s lapel as deep as possible to make the loop choke work.
Chokes are the safest way to take the opponents out without putting lasting damage on them. Chokes are the embodiment of the idea behind Jiu-Jitsu being the “gentle art.” While joint locks are just as effective, chokes are a way of imposing your will upon the opponent that can instantly end the match or a fight. Make sure to include these chokes in your arsenal, and you’ll increase your finishing rate, guaranteed.
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