While mixed martial art fighters study everything from boxing to Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is the skill that started it all back in the 1990s when Royce Gracie won UFC 1 with a rear choke. These moves evolved from Kodokan Judo, so many Jiu-Jitsu and Judo holds and chokes are similar. Learning a few solid chokeholds is a good idea for any cage fighter, and here are just a few to consider mastering.
One of the key advantages of chokeholds is how quickly you can gain control of your opponent. If your opponent cannot breathe, such as with an air choke, they might be able to struggle and get free, but they might also tap out if they cannot escape the hold. A blood choke is an even more effective tool, rendering the other fighter unconscious in as little as four or five seconds. The blood choke sounds horrible, but really is just an application of pressure on a specific vein or artery and does no permanent damage. Not only is it a great fighting technique, it’s a great self defense technique because it’s quick and easy to apply.
Learning a triangle choke is an excellent idea because it gives you a tool use for those times when your opponent has forced you onto the mat on your back. Your legs form a triangle position around the neck of the opponent, also locking an arm. In addition, if properly applied, this is a blood choke and will cause your opponent to lose consciousness if proper pressure is placed on the carotid artery. Royce Gracie taught this skill to Mel Gibson who used it to overcome Gary Busey during Lethal Weapon.
One chokehold that is often seen in MMA fighters is the rear naked choke, and this has been successfully applied by many top fighters, such as Matt Hughes and Anderson Silva. There are two slight variations of this choke. You attack from behind and wrap one arm firmly around the throat of your opponent and then clasp both of your hands together to secure the choke. You also can grab onto your bicep and secure it that way. This is a blood chokehold, so your opponent should be done in just a few seconds if you are applying pressure to the carotid artery correctly.
The Guillotine choke is a move that looks just as horrible as it sounds but is still an effective way to subdue your opponent. Bruce Lee was among the greats that showcased the usefulness of this chokehold, which can be used while standing or on the ground. This can be an air choke or a blood choke depending on how it is applied. If you are on the ground, you secure the opponent with a closed guard and then use your arms to encircle the neck of your opponent. If standing, you do the same thing with your arms, although both your legs and your opponents’ legs are free.
Of course, while rendering the other fighter unconscious can be a big advantage, it certainly doesn’t guarantee a win. Recovery from a blood choke can occur in just a few seconds, so a fighter might be able to get up and keep fighting. So while learning chokeholds is certainly essential, you need to possess a variety of well-practiced maneuvers and escapes to ensure victory.