Ultimate Submissions: Breaking down the Gogoplata


In every sport there are unorthodox moves that are rarely seen but often celebrated. What comes to mind initially are spectacular in-game dunks in the NBA such as "360’s" and through-the-leg dunks. In baseball it could be the Eephus pitch, a pitch usually less than 55 miles per hour that has an awkward trajectory and in football, it is a reverse that leads to the reverser throwing a pass to a down-field receiver.

All of those are rarely seen in their respective sport, but when they are, they are often met with plenty of excitement and discussion. That could also be said in mixed martial arts about the Gogoplata. This is a technique that for most fans who aren't familiar with the ground game, will think to themselves, "What did I just see?"


The Gogoplata is an air choke and has a very unique set up.


To execute the gogoplata you would typically have a very high guard, most effective of which is the rubber guard. The choke also tends to require a lot of flexibility in the hips and legs. It is one of the most difficult submissions to complete.


The choke has only been successfully executed a handful of times. For those notable usages and some techniques, follow me after the jump.

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The choke itself is simple but the set up and technique involved is what makes it so complicated. You simply apply pressure to the throat of your opponent with your shin while using your other leg and hands to bring down the head forcing more pressure.

Sounds simple, right?

The gogoplata will require your guard to be high, unless you do it from the mount. But we will go into mounted gogoplatas later on. To define the more traditional set up of the gogoplata first I will talk about the "rubber guard."


Eddie Bravo, who has made a gym and entire system delegated around this position, used it most famously when choking out Royler Gracie as a brown belt in ADCC. Rubber guard is very effective in keeping your opponent down in your guard.


The last thing you want is a postured opponent able to throw strikes and the rubber guard breaks down his posture and forces him close to your body. The rubber guard keeps your opponent's posture broken by locking your legs and feet into a very high position around his neck, higher then a traditional high guard.


This is an effective guard for MMA as it limits your opponent's striking options and allows you to attack more aggressively. Flexibility in the hips and legs is very important to apply this guard effectively and to avoid injury. Being able to touch your foot to your face is probably the minimum amount of flexibility required. If you can put your foot behind your head then you may be able to make your opponent's life miserable from your back using the rubber guard.



The gogoplata, or the "Kagato-Jimeas" as it’s known in Judo, is simply described as slipping one foot in front of your opponent's head and under his chin, locking your hands behind your opponent's head and choking the opponent by pressing your shin against the opponent's trachea.


There are many variations which include the Locoplata, which is when you use your free foot to push up on the choking foot and increase pressure. The "gogo" in the name was a Brazilian jiu-jitsu term coined for the slang meaning in Portuguese for the Adam's apple


But how do you set this up effectively?


If you are right handed you will start the way I traditionally do, and we will assume you are already in rubber guard. You will need to grab your opponent's left hand or wrist (the arm that is parallel to your right arm). Again, like most submissions, make sure you have a very tight grip. From there you will pull your opponent's arm towards your left shoulder.


This is where it gets tricky and where the complicated steps come in.


When you pull that arm towards your shoulder, place your right leg under the chin so that the shin is right along the throat area. You want to use your wrist control of that grabbed arm and stuff it in on your abdomen area and once it is there release it.


Now the next part will be different depending on how you like to finish the submission. I like to take my left leg and place it on the side of the neck towards where your right leg is pointing. What a lot of instructors say is this should create the letter "H" with your legs. Put your hands behind your opponent's head and pull toward your leg. This will be the pressure you need to secure the choke and earn the tap out.


Another way of finishing the choke is to throw the left leg over the head and on the back of the neck and grabbing that to pull down on your foot. That will also give you the leverage needed to get the submission.



There are other ways of course to set up the submission, most notably the mounted gogoplata and of course the more recent "Pace" choke done by current UFC fighter Nick Pace, who displayed a no-arm/in-arm triangle, which was a gogoplata in reverse in a way being that an arm was doing the choking but the leg was thrown over the top.


But why don’t we see more of the gogoplata in MMA?


The gogoplata requires a lot of flexibility. There are just so many ways that are much simpler to attack from the bottom that a lot of technique for this submission is not often taught. Plus, against experienced grapplers it is very easy to counter early since the set up can take a good amount of time. BJ Penn had one locked in on I believe Georges St. Pierre and St. Pierre simply pushed the shin away from his throat.


As of today, only five true gogoplatas have been completed amongst major organizations and/or recognized named fighters. The earliest being Shinya Aoki in his win over Joachim Hansen on New Years Eve in 2006. Brad Imes recorded two gogoplatas in a span of two weeks in late 2007 and also in that year Nick Diaz famously choked out Takanori Gomi in a bout that was later overturned to a "No Contest."


After that, Shinya Aoki showed the world the mounted gogoplata. But the most recent was a bout in Tahachi Palace in 2009 that saw Joe Soto use the submission to earn himself the victory.  


So you say they're not common, huh? Well I am stuck in one, what do I do?


First off, do not get into the position in the first place. But if you are and your posture is broken and you find yourself in a situation where an opponent has an overhook and is looking to clear the chin, do not let them clear the chin. 

If you allow them to stuff your arm by poorly controlling with your forearm, you will be triangled. If you end up in half and do not adequately control the trapped leg, they will hip out and omoplata.

My main priority is attention to the non-choking knee and thigh. If I can control it, rather than it controlling me by keeping me locked tight, he will never get full containment of me and of the choke.

Pushing down on the shin and choking you will allow some space and time. Depending on their leg position the gogoplata is often easy to swim out of but like I said before, depending on where your hand ends up, the rubber guard/gogoplata set up is very nice to go to a triangle or omoplata.


If the choke is locked in, another escape is to attempt simply turning your head and have the chin against your jaw or stacking your opponent and pivoting away. But just like other submissions, the best defense is to avoid the set-ups.


Notable Usages


Shinya Aoki vs Katsuhiko Nagata


As you see can see immediately, Aoki has mounted Nagata. He has his left arm hooked around his right leg that has already begun to stretch in towards the head of Nagata. He used that left arm to further extend the leg/shin in towards the neck. When the clip shows that he has slid the shin over the neck, Aoki grabs the back of Nagata’s head with both hands and starts to pull back on it, forcing the pressure to increase. Aoki displays insane amounts of not only flexibility, but also balance as he stays upright in the mount the entire time.


Nick Diaz vs Takanori Gomi


This was a slugfest before this submission. We had seen almost two full rounds of the two fighters blasting each other on the feet. However, Takanori late in the round decided to shoot in on Diaz. That is where the beautiful submission begins.


As soon as Diaz hits the mat he finds Gomi’s arm planted nicely near his arm pit area. Rule to live by, don't gift wrap your arm by putting it on the ground inside someones guard even if it is only for a second on the way down. Diaz almost immediately throws up his left leg and shin up and under the chin. Gomi keeps his head pretty high on the way down which makes it that much easier. From there he throws the other leg over the neck and grabs the clinch around Gomi’s head and pulls down for the submission.


Joe Soto vs Mike Christensen


We don't get to see the set up of this choke but we get to see the finishing ability of Soto. When the clip starts he already has the shin under the throat. He is already choking his opponent who decides to attempt to stack and tries to pivot away. Soto is onto him however and moves with him and uses his momentum to drag him down and almost get to a mounted position. Instead, he lands on his side and finished the choke from there.


That's it for now Maniac's, until next time......

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