In the world of jiu-jitsu, submission set ups, finishes and transitions are all constantly changing.
In particular, front chokes have hundreds of variables, such as grips, finishing angles and which guard is the best to finish from. Innovators like Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) bronze medalist Jeff Glover and multiple-time Mundials and ADCC winner Marcelo Garcia have completely changed the way these chokes are looked at by both fellow black belts and beginners alike.
In mixed martial arts (MMA), jiu-jitsu is evolving as well.
In a sport where a minor decision can lead a fighter from a sure victory to a crimson shellacking, combatants are leaning towards high percentage submissions, namely chokes. When an armbar can get your slammed on you skull, it's a lot safer to go after the neck. If you look back at the submissions of the past year, a vast majority of them are chokes, namely the guillotine, d'arce, anaconda and of course, the infallible rear naked choke.
While the rear naked choke, or Mata leão, is complex in its own right, the point of this post is to give an overview of the front chokes and examine what makes them unique.
The first choke I'll examine is the guillotine choke. The guillotine literally has thousands of variations, so I'll be highlighting a few of the most popular ways to finish. The first style of guillotine that will be scrutinized is my personal favorite, the Marcelo Garcia-style guillotine, or Marcelotine.
The Marcelotine changed jiu-jitsu. Most high level competitors who attack with guillotines use this variation. Two important notes about the basic Marcelotine (this variation of the guillotine has plenty of variations itself) is the angle of the choke and the guard. When done properly, the person doing the guillotine will do his best to push his inside elbow (the one doing the actual choking) down towards his hips while the outside elbow raises up towards his chin.
This derives pressure from the oblique muscles as well as the arms twisting into the neck.
When doing a Marcelotine, a full guard is perhaps the worst guard to finish in. Instead, a half butterfly is recommended. The person attacking with the guillotine should utilize a butterfly hook on the side of the choke (the lower elbow side) while throwing their other leg over his shoulder on the other side.
When done right, the person being choked has a few options: Either get finished from that position, pass to the wrong side and make the choke exponentially worse, or roll and risk getting mounted and finished.
Here are a couple .GIFs of the Marcelotine:
When a fighter tries to roll away from the Marcelotine...
Two more important things to know about the Marcelotine is that it is a rapid choke and can be used from many positions. This guillotine is one of the quickest ways to put an opponent to sleep, attacking both carotid arteries and shutting off blood almost immediately.
The Marcelotine can be used from a variety of positions, including mount, side control, top half guard and an assortment of guards. This flexibility makes the move even more dangerous and one of the most valuable submissions in any grappling art.
The next guillotine I'll look at is the basic guillotine from full guard. This guillotine works with an arm in or out, and is finished with two different motions. When the guillotine is all neck, the fighter should extend his hips while pulling back with his arms.
When finishing an arm in guillotine, it is important to lean into the neck, instead of backwards. While it is possible to finish by leaning backwards, it is much more difficult and requires more strength. Here are some GIFs, note how the fighters lean into the guillotine. Jake Shields and Ricardo Almeida are well known for the ferocious arm-in guillotines in the jiu-jitsu world and it is has carried over into MMA quite well.
On to the next guillotine, the arm-across guillotine. While most arm-in guillotines, including the ones pictured above, simply have the arm hooked along with the necks, sometimes a fighter has captured both the head and arm under a single armpit.
When trying to finish this guillotine, it is best to get either a full guard or the half butterfly mentioned in the Marcelotine description. From there, squeeze and hip into the side the choke is on.
Recently, Ryan Bader hit this choke on Vladimir Matyushenko and perplexed commentator Joe Rogan, even though he had called the exact same choke when Chad Mendes strangled Anthony Morrison.
On to the next choke on this list, the d'arce choke.
The easiest way to identify the d'arce choke is by the grip. A choke is a d'arce when the fighter's arm comes from outside the armpit and locks onto his tricep in a rear naked choke grip or gable grip. If the choking arm does not come from the outside, it is not a d'arce.
Once a fighter secures the d'arce choke, which is finished with the rear naked choke grip, the fighter has two options. He can either flatten his body out and put all his weight on the choke, Joe D'arce's preferred method of finishing, or he can roll to his hip, lock up his leg, and creep his hips toward his opponents. While the choke can also be finished from the full guard or mount, side control and half guard are the most common places it is finished.
Lay flat finish .GIFs:
The roll to the hips and spin finish .GIF:
The final choke that will be covered is the anaconda choke. Extremely similar to the d'arce choke, the main difference between the two is that the choking arm loops through the neck and out through the arm, instead of from the arm to the neck. The anaconda also is finished almost exclusively with the rear naked choke grip and doesn't have quite as many variations and setups as the d'arce.
The main way to finish the anaconda is to grab it from the turtle position and gator roll into side control. From there, it is finished the same way as the d'arce, by getting on one's side and arching the hips.
When jiu-jitsu ace Charles Oliveira fought Jonathan Brookins, the young Brazilian was a large favorite and he proved he deserved that recognition. After taking his opponent down against the cage, Oliveira snuck an arm around Brookins neck and wrapped it up outside of the armpit with his other arm. Then, he sat down and finished the anaconda from full guard.
I brought this choke up because immediately after, almost every MMA site called it something different (modified guillotine, d'arce, head and arm choke etc.), when in fact, it was a picture perfect anaconda choke, just performed from a different position.
The constantly changing world of chokes can be confusing, but hopefully this post helps with classifying which submission is which and knowing how to finish each individual choke.
Any grapplers in our audience have anything to add?