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What is the Triangle Choke and How to Do It

The triangle choke is a real game-changer in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). This move is so powerful and flexible that it’s ended countless matches, even in big leagues like the UFC and other MMA events. So, what’s the triangle choke all about? Well, it’s a ‘head and arm’ choke that’s been around since the days of Japanese Ju-jutsu and was later adopted into Judo in the early 1900s. The idea is to use your legs to put a whole lot of pressure on your opponent’s neck and shoulder. In Judo, they call it sankaku-jime.

The triangle choke probably made its way into BJJ around the 1960s, and has become a must-know technique in the sport. What makes this choke a winner is its adaptability – you can pull it off from a bunch of different positions and there are loads of variations to it.

Whether you’re a seasoned grappler or just starting out with your white belt, getting the hang of the triangle choke is super important. Trust me, it’s a move you’ll want to have up your sleeve.

The Mechanics of the Triangle Choke

The basic mechanics of the triangle choke involve you using your legs to wrap around your opponent’s neck and one arm, forming a shape that looks a lot like a triangle – hence the name. Once in position you apply pressure using both your legs and your opponent’s own shoulder. This creates a kind of side squeeze that cuts off the blood flow from the neck arteries to the brain. When executed correctly your opponent could be lights out in just a few seconds. The real beauty of the triangle choke is that it not only immobilizes your opponent but also cuts off their blood supply. This makes it a seriously powerful move in both competitions and self-defense situations.

How to Execute a Triangle Choke

There are quite a few ways to enter in a triangle choke. You can enter a triangle choke from virtually any position in jiu jitsu, be in full guard, half guard, side control, mount or from the back. For beginners, the most likely place to hit a triangle choke is from full guard. We will go over the step by step process for nailing a triangle choke from within full guard.

Step 1:

First things first, you’ve got to get a grip on your opponent’s wrist or the sleeve of their gi. This is super important because it stops them from getting a hold on you or throwing punches (in MMA). Plus, it helps you set up their arms just right for the choke.

Step 2:

Once you’ve got control of the gi or arm, it’s time to isolate one of their arms. Why? Because the triangle choke is all about using your legs and one of their shoulders to put pressure on their neck.

Step 3:

After you’ve got their wrist under control, push one of their arms into their body while pulling the other arm forward. This puts your opponent in the perfect position for the triangle choke – one arm in, one arm out.

Step 4:

Next up, lift your hips and lock in the triangle. To do this, use your foot to push off your opponent’s opposite hip to shift your body into the right position. Don’t forget to hold your shin behind your opponent’s neck and pull down to keep them in check.

Step 5

And now for the grand finale – the submission. But hold on, don’t just crank up the pressure or bail from the position. Instead, get the hang of the 10-second choke fix to effectively finish off the choke. Trust me, it’s a move worth mastering.

Triangle Choke in Gi vs NoGi

Executing a triangle choke in gi and nogi require slightly different approaches. In Gi, the grips make it a bit easier to secure the arm and hold your opponent in place while you execute the choke. In nogi you have to rely on wrist grips and other types of grips to secure your opponent. The main differences are:

  1. Grip possibilities: The fabric of the gi itself gives you extra grip alternatives. With sleeve grips, collar grips, belt grips, and other techniques, you may restrain your opponent. By doing this, you may prepare the triangle choke and keep control throughout the move. Because the skin or rash guards can be slippery, especially when perspiration is involved, the absence of such grips in no-gi can make control and setup more difficult. The gi offers some friction, which might assist you hold the position after you’ve got it. This is especially true for the triangle choke, when the gi makes it more difficult to escape. If the triangle isn’t secured correctly in no-gi, the absence of friction might make it simpler for the opponent to escape.
  2. Speed: Because there is less friction and gripping, no-gi is typically quicker paced. This suggests that a triangle choke may be easier to put up and escape from.
  3. Setup: Due to the ability to control your opponent’s posture using collar and sleeve grips, several triangle choke setups may be simpler with a gi. But, there are also no-gi-specific setups that make use of underhooks, overhooks, and wrist and head control.
  4. Finishing: While applying the triangle, the usage of the gi can provide more control or perhaps open the door to alternative submissions like the collar choke. The finish in no-gi is typically less complicated and more concerned with holding the position and putting on the choke.

Variations of the Triangle Choke

Spider guard triangle

The Spider Guard Triangle is a cool twist on the good old triangle choke, giving you a fresh way to pull off this classic submission move. Instead of launching it from the closed guard like you’d usually do with a standard triangle choke, this one starts from the spider guard stance.

In case you’re unfamiliar with spider guard, you’re controlling your opponent’s biceps with your hands, while your feet are either on their hips or biceps. It’s like you’re spinning a web around them, hence the name ‘spider guard’. This setup gives you a whole bunch of attack options, and one of them is the Spider Guard Triangle.

This move really shines when your opponent is trying to sidestep your guard or playing too defensively. The Spider Guard Triangle can totally flip the script in a jiu-jitsu match, especially if your opponent isn’t expecting it. It’s a testament to how versatile and effective the triangle choke can be, proving it’s not just a one-trick pony but a move that can adapt to different situations and positions.

Lasso guard triangle

The Lasso Guard Triangle is a cool twist on the classic triangle choke. It’s like seeing an old friend in a new light. Unlike the usual triangle choke, which you’d start from the bottom of side control or guard, the Lasso Guard Triangle comes from a unique guard position called the Lasso Guard. Picture this: one of your legs loops around your opponent’s arm and hooks back onto itself, making a lasso. Neat, right?

Now, the Lasso Guard Triangle really shines when your opponent is a bit too eager to get past your guard. In these cases, you can use their own momentum against them, smoothly switching to the Lasso Guard Triangle. This move isn’t just a strong submission threat, it’s also a great way to keep your opponent from passing your guard.

To pull off the Lasso Guard Triangle, you’ll need to trap one of your opponent’s arms using your legs, just like with the basic triangle choke. But here’s where things get different. Instead of trapping the arm between your legs, you’re looping your leg around the arm, creating that lasso effect. This unique setup gives you control over your opponent’s posture and movement, making it easier and more efficient to set up the triangle choke.

Mounted triangle

This isn’t your run-of-the-mill move, it’s a game-changer. Unlike the usual triangle choke, which you’d typically pull off from the bottom, the mounted triangle comes into play when you’ve got full mount control over your opponent.

Imagine this: you’re on top, using your glutes, hamstrings, and adductors – your powerhouse muscles – to apply some serious pressure. And the best part? It doesn’t take much effort on your part.

Now, the real trick to nailing the mounted triangle is all about isolating your opponent’s arm. You’ve got to get their left arm across their face, so their bicep is right on their carotid artery. As you lean in and squeeze your legs together, their bicep gets pushed into their neck, blocking blood flow and often leading to a submission.

Remember, it’s super important to keep your hips planted on their chest the whole time. This stops them from wriggling free and keeps you in control.

The beauty of the mounted triangle is its flexibility. You can tweak it based on your opponent’s size and strength, making it a killer move when a standard triangle choke from the bottom just isn’t cutting it. So, give it a shot and see how it changes your game!

Top side control triangle

Unlike the usual triangle choke, which you’d typically pull off from the bottom, this starts from a top side control position. Here’s how you do it: slide your noggin behind your opponent’s head, nestling it right into their armpit.

Your goal here? Get a firm grip on their head and arm, and then snag control of the wrist on their far arm. This move will coax your opponent to lift their head off the mat, giving you the perfect chance to pin their arm to their body. At the same time, you’ll want to lift your inside leg up and over their head.

The cherry on top? A subtle shift of your weight forward to lock in your triangle. You can pull this off from the mount, roll to your back, or even mix it up with an arm lock.

The top side control triangle is a smart, tactical move, especially handy when your opponent leaves an arm between your legs. It’s like they’re handing you the opportunity for this submission on a silver platter.

Bottom side control triangle

The Bottom Side Control Triangle is a clever twist on the classic triangle choke and it’s a game-changer when you find yourself stuck in side control.

This nifty move was perfected by none other than BJJ world champ, Braulio Estima. It’s a shining example of how flexible and adaptable Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be.

First, you’re going to bridge into your opponent, forcing them to put their hand on the mat. Then, you’ll roll onto your side and snag an underhook on your opponent’s near arm. At the same time, you’ll want to hook their far arm with your foot. This move really shines when your opponent has carelessly left one of their arms between your legs.

Triangle from back control

First things first, you’ve got to secure your opponent’s back. This is where the element of surprise comes in. Your opponent won’t see it coming, and that’s what makes this move so effective. You’re going to reach under your opponent’s arm to grab their wrist. This is super important because it stops them from getting a grip or throwing punches. Once you’ve got a firm hold on their wrist, it’s time to get them on the mat and switch your wrist control to your choking hand.

Next, you’re going to shift your hips out and swing your elbow over your opponent’s head. Follow this up by moving your leg over their shoulder to lock in your reverse triangle. If you need to, you can use your foot to move your opponent’s arm out of the way before you finalize your triangle.

This twist on the triangle choke really shows how versatile this submission move can be.

How to Defend Against a Triangle Choke

So, you’re caught in a triangle choke, huh? Don’t sweat it, we’ve all been there. The key to wriggling out of this tricky situation is a mix of keeping your cool, staying sturdy, and making some smart moves.

Step 1: Stiffen Up

First things first, you gotta stand tall. Literally. A good, strong posture is your best friend here. It’s like a shield that can stop a triangle choke in its tracks before it even gets going. If you suddenly find yourself in the grip of a triangle choke, don’t panic. Instead, straighten up and give your hips a good, hard push forward. This can throw off the choke, or at the very least, buy you some precious seconds. Remember, the stronger you stand, the tougher it is for your opponent to keep the choke going. They might even mess it up completely. Remember this golden rule: most closed guard submissions need your opponent’s posture to be disrupted. So, when you’re in the closed guard and a triangle choke comes your way, it’s crucial to manage your posture.

Step 2: Kill the angle.

How do you do that? Simple. Turn your head towards the leg that’s squishing your face and give it a good push down. This makes it super tough for your opponent to finish the choke. Keep turning in that direction until you can free your other arm.

By using these defense moves, you can turn a potentially dangerous situation into an opportunity to escape or even counter-attack. So, next time you’re caught in a triangle choke, remember these tips and you’ll be just fine.

Step 3: Corkscrew

Next up, it’s time for the corkscrew move. Imagine you’re a drill, spinning your way out of your opponent’s grip. Remember, the goal here isn’t to overpower them, but to create enough space to slip out of the choke.

Step 4: Avoid the Omoplata

Lastly, you’ve got to dodge the Omoplata. This is a common follow-up attack if the triangle choke doesn’t pan out. As you’re getting up, yank your wrist away from their hip. This quick move can stop them from transitioning into the Omoplata.

When was the triangle choke developed?

This move has a pretty cool backstory, starting off in Judo. Back in the day, they called it “the Sanaku-jime”. What made it stand out was the figure 4 choke, which is just a fancy way of saying the legs are locked together in a unique way.

When this choke move found its way into Jiu Jitsu, they gave it a new name – the triangle choke. Why? Well, when you’ve got this move down pat, your legs form a neat triangle. It’s a perfect fit for Jiu Jitsu’s ground-based style, and right from the get-go, the triangle choke showed it had a lot to offer.

Over time, folks have tweaked and fine-tuned the choke, coming up with all sorts of different ways to set it up. Today, the triangle choke is still a key move in Jiu Jitsu. There are so many variations and setups, you could fill a whole library with them. So, if you’re looking to master Jiu Jitsu, getting a handle on the triangle choke is a great place to start.

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