One of my newsletter readers recently had an interesting question for me:
Q: “Hi Stephan, I have this training partner with a huge neck who is incredibly resistant to chokes. Everybody in class has problems choking him. The problem is that my favorite submission is the triangle choke – what’s a simple way to finish the choke on someone like that? Thanks – Dave from England.”
A: There’s a reason that the triangle choke is one of the signature moves of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. It is one of the most powerful submissions you can apply and it has finished a ton of matches in BJJ, submission grappling and MMA competition.
But when you have it fully locked on and you’re squeezing, squeezing, squeezing but your opponent just won’t tap, then you seriously start thinking about giving your belt back and burning your gi…
Of course it’s possible that you’re doing something wrong. It’s a bit hard for me to figure that out remotely since I can’t see you do the triangle choke on someone and/or feel you doing it on me.
But I do have a few suggestions…
First of all, take heart and don’t be too hard on yourself. Some people are just mutants, and it sounds like you may be dealing with one of them in your club.
I don’t know exactly what it is – maybe some people’s arteries and veins are just a lot more deeply buried in their neck – but I have heard of this before. My main BJJ coach, Marcus Soares, once told me a story of a guy back at the Carlson Gracie Academy in Rio who was impossible to choke. Marcus (who is a choke genius) couldn’t choke him. And Carlson (who was a BJJ legend) couldn’t choke him either.
So, just like hyperflexible people who are really difficult to armlock, choke-resistant people do exist. Just accept that and move onto the next technique.
Most importantly, DON’T lose faith in the technique just because it ‘only’ works on 99% of the population. This is a martial art, not a martial science. And something in the arts that works 99% of time is pretty darn good…
Secondly have a quick browse through these triangle-choke related posts on Grapplearts.com. Maybe you’re just doing one little thing wrong and one of these articles will help you fix that mistake and maybe – badda bing, badda boom – you’ll be able to choke out Mr. Monster Neck with your best move.
Pay particular attention to the Advanced Triangle Chokes Details article because there’s a lot of good stuff in there..
Thirdly, keep on working to slap the triangle choke onto this unchokeable monster. As I’ve said before, every triangle choke entry is also an omoplata entry. Once you get the triangle choke don’t exhaust your legs trying to finish it; just move on and convert it to the omoplata and either armlock him or use it as a sweep to get to the top position.
Finally, you asked for a simple way to finish the triangle choke on someone with a huge neck. Here’s one of the simplest ways to stay in the same position and still get the tap out from your opponent.
One caveat though. Maybe it’s because the guy on the bottom doesn’t really believe it works and slams it on too hard, or maybe it’s because the guy caught in the submission doesn’t realize he’s in a submission and waits too long to tap, but in any case there’s something about this technique that can lead to injuries.
Like all submissions, apply this one slowly and with control – your training partner’s health is MUCH more important than you getting the tap.
That being said, this is a totally valid finish to the triangle choke. Try it for yourself and see if you get some success from it:
1, My opponent (in black) holds me in the closed guard.
I tempt fate by trying to insert my left hand under his leg
to open his guard without first establishing proper posture.
2, He opens his legs and starts swinging
them into position for the triangle choke.
3, He applies the triangle choke but no matter how much
he squeezes, how much he pulls my head down, etc.
he just can’t finish the choke. But he notices that my
right arm (the arm that’s trapped between his legs) is free…
4, He secures my right wrist with both hands and lifts his hips
to apply the triangle armbar. Note that in this variation he
keeps his legs in the triangle choke position. Simply lifting
the hips applies the armbar.
5, Another option for my opponent is to unlock the triangle
choke position, bring his left leg across my face and
apply a slightly more ‘traditional’ form of armbar.
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