Chris Brennan’s 10 Finger Guillotine


Chris Brennan: ten finger guillotine

Originally published in the December 2006 issue of Ultimate Grappling

The 10 finger guillotine is a curious technique. There has probably been more speculation about how to properly apply this guillotine than just about any other technique. It is the Loch Ness monster of grappling – everyone knows someone who has seen it, but nobody can even agree what it looks like.

You might have seen Chris Brennan fighting in Pride, KOTC, etc, attacking aggressively using the Kimura and armbar. He’s a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, a professional fighter and the head instructor at the Next Generation gym.

What you might NOT know is that he is a self-professed “10 finger guillotine freak”. Chris has developed his own version of the 10 finger guillotine, and he applies it from many different positions. This article will give you a taste of its power and versatility, and hopefully give you a new tool with which to terrorize your sparring partners.

Choke Mechanics

The ‘secret’, or critical detail, of the 10 finger guillotine is to position your hands so that your thumb knuckles apply pressure against the windpipe. The hands are first placed into position, and then the choke is applied by cocking the wrist upward.

 Guillotine choke 1 Chris cups Norm’s chin with his left hand.Norm’s chin sits in the space between Chris’s little and ring fingers – this is very important to ensure the correct application of the choke.
 guillotine choke 2 Chris now brings his left hand over his own right hand, cradling the chin with both hands
 Guillotine Choke 3 Side view: Chris clamps Norm’s head to his ribs with his elbow, as if he was carrying a football. The grip on the chin stops the head from slipping out.
 Guillotine Choke 4 Chris now turns his wrists up so that the back of both thumbs apply pressure against his opponent’s windpipe – the submission is almost immediate.

Hand Positioning for the 10 Finger Guillotine

To help you understand the choking action in more detail, Chris demonstrates the choke hand position without an opponent.

 Guillotine Hand Position 1 Chris left hand cups his opponent’s chin (with the tip of his chin coming between the little finger and the ring finger).
 Guillotine Hand Position 2 The right hand cups the left hand; note how the thumbs of both hands are lying right next to each other.
 Guillotine Hand Position 3 To apply the choke Chris cocks his hands upwards, as if he wanted to see the back side of his right hand. This drives the thumbs into the windpipe.

10 Finger Guillotine Vs. a Double Leg Takedown

The 10 finger guillotine can be applied from a variety of positions. One of most common uses is to counter an attempted takedown

 Guillotine from sprawl 1 Chris squares off against his opponent
 Guillotine from sprawl 2 Norm shoots in, trying to take Chris down.
 guillotine from sprawl 3 Chris sprawls his hips back while cupping the chin with his left hand
 guillotine from sprawl 4 He sprawls his hips all the way to the ground and cups the chin with his second hand as well.
 guillotine from sprawl 5 Pinning his opponent’s head to the mat, Chris applies the choke by bending both his wrists upward.

10 Finger Guillotine from the Guard

The 10 finger guillotine can work even if your opponent gets one of his arms in between your own.

 Guillotine from Guard 1 Chris sits up from the guard, bringing his left arm over his opponent’s shoulder
 Guillotine from guard 2 He cups the chin while moving his hips to the right
 guillotine from guard 3 Alternate angle: he brings his right arm over Norm’s left shoulder…
 guillotine from guard 4 …and inserts his right hand through the armpit, cupping the chin with both hands.
 guillotine from guard 5 Chris moves his hips out to the side and cocks his wrists upwards to apply the choke.

5 Finger Guillotine From Inside Your Opponent’s Guard

The 10 finger guillotine even works with one hand (making it a “5 finger guillotine”). Here Chris turns the tables on an unsuspecting opponent and applies a 5 finger guillotine when he is in his opponent’s guard.

 guillotine from butterfly 1 Chris is in his opponent’s butterfly guard
 guillotine from butterfly 2 His right hand stuffs the head into his left armpit, where his left hand cups the chin
 guillotine from butterfly 3 Alternate view: note how the little finger comes in front of the chin; all the other fingers are underneath the chin itself
 guillotine from butterfly 4 Chris throws himself forward, crossing his ankles under Norm’s legs to control his movement
 Guillotine from butterfly 5 He arches backwards, basing on one hand and driving the left thumb into the throat to obtain a submission.

Find out more about Chris Brennan and his line of fight clothing at

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