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The Triangle Choke - In Depth



The triangle choke is a highly effective submission technique in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that can be executed from various positions, including the closed guard.


Here's a detailed step-by-step guide on how to execute a triangle choke from the closed guard:


1.Start in the closed guard position: Begin by wrapping your legs around their torso and locking your ankles together behind their back, in your closed guard.


Your back should be flat on the mat, and one hand should be controlling your opponent's arm or collar, while the other controls their arm.





2. Control your opponent: As you control your opponents head with one hand, open your guard while push your opponents arm in between your legs with the opposite hand. now lock your ankles back together.


Making sure that you now have one arm in between your legs, while the other one is out. 





3. Create the angle: To execute the triangle choke, you need to create an angle to attack your opponent's neck.


One way to do this is by using your legs to push your opponent's arm across their body. To do this, loosen your guard slightly and place your foot on your opponent's hip ( the one that is under their arm, on the waist still. )


Use your foot to push off their hip to cut an angle, while pulling their arm across their body with your opposite hand.


You have to always make sure you control your opponents head while setting up the triangle choke, ( especially while your legs are open cutting an angle). 





4. Secure the triangle position: As your opponent's arm comes across their body, slide your leg that's on the same side as the arm up and over their shoulder.


Your ankle should be hooked behind your knee on your other leg. Your other foot should be placed on your opponent's hip to control their posture.


This creates the "triangle" position, with your legs forming the two sides and your opponent's neck as the base. 





5. Lock your legs together: Now your top leg should be flush across your opponents neck with downward pressure.


The leg that was on our opponents hip now locks over the top of your lower shin/ankle.





6. Tighten the choke: To complete the triangle choke, use your legs to squeeze your opponent's neck by pinching our knees together.


This will cut off the blood flow to their brain, causing them to tap out or lose consciousness. To increase the pressure, use your arms to pull down on your shin or foot that's behind your opponent's neck.





Finish the submission: If your opponent still refuses to tap, you can finish the submission by adjusting your hips and pulling down on your opponent's head. This will increase the pressure on their neck, making it difficult for them to breathe.


It's important to note that executing a triangle choke requires good technique, timing, and control.


Practice with a partner who is willing to help you develop your skills and always tap out if you feel uncomfortable or in danger. With practice, the triangle choke can become a powerful tool in your arsenal of BJJ techniques.



Who Has The Best Triangle In BJJ?



The triangle choke is a highly effective submission in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and mixed martial arts (MMA), and there are many athletes who have become known for their expertise in applying this technique in competition. Here are a few notable examples:


Roger Gracie: Roger Gracie is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and former MMA fighter who is widely regarded as one of the best BJJ practitioners of all time.


Gracie has won numerous world championships and is known for his mastery of the triangle choke, which he has used to great effect in many of his matches. 



Roger Gracie 



Marcelo Garcia: Marcelo Garcia is another BJJ black belt and former MMA fighter who is known for his exceptional skill in applying the triangle choke.


Garcia is a five-time world champion and has won numerous other BJJ competitions, including the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship. 



Marcelo Garcia



Rafa Mendes: Rafael "Rafa" Mendes is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt who has won numerous world championships and is widely regarded as one of the best featherweight BJJ competitors of all time.


Mendes is known for his technical precision and is particularly adept at applying the triangle choke, which he has used to submit many of his opponents. 



Rafael Mendes



Gordon Ryan: is known for his success with different triangle choke submission techniques. He has won several high-profile matches using the choke and is regarded as one of the greatest BJJ competitors of all time.


Ryan's exceptional technique and timing have enabled him to set up the choke from various positions, making him one of the most dominant competitors in the sport.



Gordon Ryan


Ryan Hall: Ryan Hall is an American BJJ black belt and MMA fighter who is known for his unorthodox and creative grappling style.


Hall has won numerous BJJ competitions and is particularly skilled at applying the triangle choke, which he has used to submit many of his opponents in both BJJ and MMA matches.



 Ryan Hall



Michelle Nicolini: Michelle Nicolini is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and former world champion who is known for her technical precision and proficiency in applying the triangle choke.


Nicolini has won numerous BJJ competitions and is particularly adept at using the technique to submit her opponents from a variety of positions. 



Michelle Nicolini



These are just a few examples of the many BJJ athletes who have become known for their skill in applying the triangle choke in competition.


The technique requires a high level of technical proficiency and can be difficult to execute against skilled opponents, but these athletes have demonstrated that with dedication and practice, it is possible to become a master of the triangle choke in BJJ competition.



History Of The Triangle Choke In MMA



Royce Gracie, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner and UFC pioneer, used this technique to great effect in his fights during the early days of the UFC.


One of the most famous instances of Royce Gracie using the triangle choke came in his UFC 4 match against Dan Severn in 1994.


Severn, a wrestler with a significant size advantage over Gracie, dominated much of the fight and had Gracie pinned against the cage.


However, Gracie was able to transition to a triangle choke from the bottom position and lock it in tight.


Despite Severn's attempts to resist, he eventually tapped before going unconscious, and the referee stopped the fight, giving Gracie the victory.


The triangle choke became synonymous with Gracie's name after this fight, and it remains one of the most iconic submission holds in MMA history.



Royce Gracie vs Dan Severn - Match



Most Notable Triangle Choke Finishes 



  1. Royce Gracie vs. Dan Severn at UFC 4 - As mentioned earlier, Royce Gracie used a triangle choke to defeat Dan Severn in this historic UFC bout.

  2. Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen at UFC 117 - Anderson Silva, one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time, was caught in a tough spot against wrestler Chael Sonnen in this 2010 fight. But in the fifth round, Silva locked in a triangle choke and forced Sonnen to tap out.

  3. Demian Maia vs. Carlos Condit at UFC on Fox 21 - In this 2016 fight, Demian Maia submitted Carlos Condit with a beautiful triangle choke in the first round. The finish was especially impressive considering Condit's pedigree as a former WEC welterweight champion.

  4. Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 140 - In this 2011 fight, Frank Mir became the first fighter to ever submit the legendary Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Mir used a triangle armbar (a combination of a triangle choke and an armbar) to force Nogueira to tap out in the first round.

  5. Fabricio Werdum vs. Fedor Emelianenko at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum - In one of the biggest upsets in MMA history, Fabricio Werdum submitted the seemingly unbeatable Fedor Emelianenko with a triangle armbar in the first round of their 2010 bout.


Fabricio Werdum vs Fedor Emelianenko UFC Fight Night



These are just a few examples of the many impressive triangle choke finishes in combat sports history.


The triangle choke is a versatile and deadly submission hold that continues to play a significant role in MMA and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.



 Free Fight: Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen 1 | UFC 117, 2010



Different Types Of Triangle Chokes


The Reverse Triangle Choke

This triangle choke can be set up from when you are on top of your opponent.  It is usually from a under hook scarf hold or even a side control position. 


It can also be set up from the bottom when you are in a full guard or as your opponent has passed your guard and they are holding you down in side control.





This inverted triangle choke is not as common in submission grappling, more mma. Yet it is notable to mention it can be effective if set up properly. 


This triangle choke is usually set up from your opponents attempting low single legs when their head is on the inside, or even while they are in a turtle position.





The Rear Triangle 

When you have your opponents back with both your hooks, in a seat belt position. It is usually set up by isolating one of your opponents arms with your legs. 


Although you can set it up from different positions such as from failed armbar attempts or even from a top deep half guard.





Side Triangle Choke 

This triangles most common set up is from a straight armbar attempt. Where you have your shin in your opponents armpit. When you are unable to break their grips.


Then your top leg ( the ones that's over your opponents head ) comes across to your opponents far armpit. 




As you fall to your side ( near your opponents legs ) This will relieve the pressure off your opponents head allowing you to kick your bottom leg underneath to lock in the side triangle.


Opposite Side Triangle 

This is a rear triangle, that you don't see as often. This technique is most commonly set up from when you are transitioning from a front front triangle choke in closed guard. 


Which requires you to left your hips up and lock the triangle the opposite way. 


This opposite side triangle choke can also be set up from the top, but it's usually finished when the person who's setting it up rolls on to their side or back. 


Making it easier to lock the triangle configuration with their legs.





The reasons for transitioning are because your opponent is wrapping their arm over your bottom leg. 


Preventing you from cutting the proper angle you need to secure in the standard front triangle choke.  


One of the most notable recent times this technique was used was from Gordon Ryan when he used it in his match against against Ralek Gracie. 



Shin Triangle Choke 

This triangle choke is very similar to the regular triangle choke yet the leg that is on your opponents neck is nowhere near as deep. 


Where the pressure on the side of your opponents neck. From the lower part of your calf muscle. 


The pressure feels very different to a standard choke, more like the pain from a drace choke. 


This requires you to be on a different angle to the usual triangle choke.






The Crangle Submission

There are also other variations of triangles where they are not usually seen nearly as much. Mostly because they are much harder to set up but I thought I would mention them. 


The cryangle submission is basically a triangle choke, yet you not only have your opponents arm and head locked in between your legs, but also one of their legs.


You guessed it right, the names is pretty self explanatory, a very uncomfortable positions to be caught in as you are basically folded in half.


Although with your leg being trapped inside your opponents triangle, this will make it difficult to finish the choke.



Yet don't get me wrong, if you find yourself stuck in the cryangle, and you are not already tapping from the pain of your back being folded over as your leg gets pushed past your head.


While in this position your opponent has many other submissions to play around with, such as shoulder locks, wrist locks, straight arm locks, as well as many even a straight foot achilles lock.


The cryangle can be done when you are front on with your partner. Where it could be set up from a 50/50 guard for example.


The other variation is similar to a rear triangle choke. Where I have seen it set up where you are in a top deep half guard.


Yet I have never seen someone pull it off in a actual competition. As I mentioned earlier, the cryangles are a very low percentage submissions that you will not see at high level competition. 



As with all of these triangle choke holds, more than likely you will find yourself unable to cut the proper angle to finish the choke itself.


Or maybe your legs are too long and there is too much gap, or the opposite, your legs are too short or your opponent is too big to lock a full triangle properly. Whatever the reason may be


It's is important to not get tunnel vision and just be focuses on this one submission, but to think about what other submissions are available.


For example, submissions such as a kimura shoulder lock finish, attacking a wrist lock, or even a straight arm lock as your opponent is defending the triangle choke. 



Defences For The Triangle Choke 



Posture: One of the most important things you can do to defend against the triangle choke is to maintain good posture.


This means keeping your head up and your back straight, and avoiding bending forward or allowing your opponent to control your posture.


By maintaining good posture, you make it more difficult for your opponent to create the necessary angle to apply the triangle choke.


Inside control: Try to avoid your opponent controlling your head and arms, this will make it easier to get your posture if you have your hands on your opponents biceps.


Escape the angle: Another option is to try to escape the angle of the choke. This means moving your body in a way that breaks the angle of your opponent's legs, making it more difficult for them to apply the choke.


You can do this by turning towards your trapped arm and posturing up, making sure that you always stay square with your opponents hips.


Stack: If your opponent has locked in the triangle choke, one of the most effective defences is to stack them.


This means driving your body forward and lifting your opponents back off the ground, which puts pressure on their neck and can help to alleviate the choke.


As you stack your opponent, try to free your trapped arm and use it to grab their leg or hip to prevent them from reapplying the choke and cutting their angle.



Best Bjj Submissions For Beginners - Blog



Overall, there are many different ways to escape the triangle choke submission, but it all depends on how deep your opponent has it sunk in.


The best defense against the triangle choke submission is to avoid getting caught in it in the first place by maintaining good posture and hand positioning.


However, if you do find yourself trapped, there are a variety of effective defences you can use to escape the choke and turn the tables on your opponent that I go over in my online video platform as they are not the easiest things to explain.



Origins Of The Triangle Choke



The triangle choke is a submission technique in grappling martial arts that has its origins in traditional Japanese Jiu-Jitsu.


The technique involves using the legs to create a figure-four shape around the opponent's neck and one arm, while also securing the opponent's other arm with one's own arm or hand.


This creates a tight choke that can cause the opponent to submit or lose consciousness if not released.


The origins of the triangle choke can be traced back to the traditional Japanese martial arts of Judo and Jiu-Jitsu, which were developed in the late 19th century by Jigoro Kano and his students.


These martial arts were heavily influenced by various forms of Japanese wrestling, as well as other traditional martial arts from Japan and around the world.



Jigoro Kano



The triangle choke was originally known as "sankaku-jime" in Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, and was used primarily as a submission technique in grappling competitions.


The technique involves wrapping one's legs around an opponent's neck and arm in a figure-four shape, while also securing the opponent's other arm with one's own arm or hand.


This creates a tight choke that can cause the opponent to submit or lose consciousness if not released.

The triangle choke was later adopted by other grappling martial arts, including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), where it became particularly popular in the early days of the sport.


BJJ was developed by the Gracie family in Brazil, who were heavily influenced by Japanese Jiu-Jitsu and sought to adapt the techniques to better suit their needs in real-life self-defence scenarios.

One of the earliest known practitioners of the triangle choke in BJJ was Carlos Gracie Jr., who used the technique to great effect in many of his matches in the 1980s and 1990s.


Since then, the triangle choke has become one of the most widely used and effective submission techniques in BJJ, with many variations and setups developed over the years by various practitioners.


Today, the triangle choke is a key technique in many grappling martial arts, including BJJ, Judo, and MMA.


Its effectiveness and versatility make it an essential tool for any grappler looking to develop a well-rounded and effective grappling game.


In addition to its use in traditional martial arts, the triangle choke has also gained popularity in the world of professional wrestling, where it is sometimes referred to as the "triangular armbar."


Professional wrestlers often use the technique as a finishing move, and it has become a popular signature move for many wrestlers over the years.


Overall, the triangle choke is a highly effective submission technique with a rich history and cultural significance in the world of martial arts.


Its evolution and popularity over the years serve as a testament to the enduring legacy of grappling and combat sports around the world.


I hope you all enjoyed this blog and if you would like to learn more about how to set up the different types of triangle chokes, combination attacks, escapes, counters and more. 


Go to Jiu Jitsu Grapplings members area. Which has a free trial, with hundreds of different videos and courses. 


About the author: Gavin Hain has been training, competing, and teaching martial arts for over 26 years. He is a coach on the Gold Coast Australia, who holds a 2nd Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, along with many other martial art ranks.

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