How many times has a sparring partner told you “Man, I was SO close to tapping” after you’d been squeezing their neck like crazy in a desperate attempt to choke them, but then decided that it wasn’t working and gave up on the submission?
Frustrating, isn’t it?
Or have you ever held a choke for so long that you completely burn out your grips and have to fight the rest of the match with jello hands, unable to grab and hold onto anything at all?
That’s not a lot of fun either…
These are very common problems but my friend Elliott Bayev has a very simple solution!
It’s called the “Squeeze and Count to Ten” rule.
Simply put, it’s a 3 step process…
- Get your arms and legs into position
- Count to ten
This approach makes sure that you’re applying pressure long enough for the choke to take effect.
Most chokes are NOT like armlocks. Armlocks are generally binary: they’re either on or not on.
A choke, on the other hand, can be in the gray zone. A strong choke cleanly applied can force your opponent to tap out almost immediately. But not all chokes are created equal, and sometimes your grips can be ever-so-slightly off. But even a choke that is kinda, sorta, correctly applied can still work; it will just take longer.
Start counting to ten and you’ll start finishing tons of chokes you might have abandoned way too early in the past.
You’ll also learn to ‘pace’ your grip. The very fact that you’re thinking in advance that you’re going to have to be able to hold this squeeze for 10 seconds means that you won’t blow out your grip by using up every bit of your strength holding a super-dubious choke that you simply can’t maintain.
If the choke isn’t working after 10 seconds of steady squeezing then I hereby give you permission to adjust your grip, switch to a variation, or abandon that specific choke and attack with something else!
This applies no matter what kind of choke you’re dealing with and how you’re generating the pressure…
Let’s say that you’ve taken your opponent’s back and fight your arms into the Rear Naked Choke position. To apply this rule create pressure by squeezing your arms, arching your back, and inflating your chest. Now slowly count to ten while holding this position and not relaxing your squeeze.
Same exact thing applies to the triangle choke (squeeze with your legs and pull down with your arms), the bow and arrow choke (keep everything tight and arch your back), the cross choke from mount (get your grips deep and drop your weight forward), and just about every other choke in the BJJ lexicon.
(Possibly the only exceptions to this rule are the windpipe chokes where you’re applying pressure across the front of the throat with something like the 10 finger guillotine or the sleeve choke. These trachea chokes very uncomfortable and usually result in a pain-based submission rather than unconsciousness. That being said, some people are incredibly tough, so if you don’t get the tap right away keep on squeezing for 10 seconds and you might just get lucky!)
Hope this detail helps – at the very least, give it a try the next time you almost have the perfect choke in your sparring!
By the way, detailed breakdowns on how to do the chokes I just mentioned in this article can be found below – check them out!
6 Step Method to Sink the RNC
Advanced Triangle Choke Finishing Details
The Bow and Arrow Choke with Killer Gripping Details
How to Actually Finish the Cross Choke from Mount
6 Steps for an Effective Sleeve Choke