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How to Master and Defend the Arm Triangle Choke in BJJ

What is the Arm Triangle Choke

The arm triangle choke is one of the most famous submissions in Brazilian Jiu Jitu and Mixed Martial Arts, and one of the best submissions for beginners to learn.

The arm triangle choke requires a basic understanding of choking mechanics and uses force from your arm and head to apply pressure to both sides of your opponent’s neck

These reason why the head and arm choke is so important is because it helps you understand the basic mechanics of a successful strangle based submission and is very easy to achive from the mount position.

Here is a quick clip of me hitting the arm triangle choke in one of my early competitions:

As you can see the requirements of an arm triangle choke are to:

  • get your oponent’s arm raised up above their shoulder line
  • apply pressure to both sides of their neck

The arm triangle is unique on its own. However, it is still similar to the standard triangle choke. What makes the difference is, you are using your arms instead of your legs.

  • the pressure of your arm is limiting the blood flow on one side of their neck
  • and (just like a regular triangle) their arm/shoulder is applying pressure to other side of their head to become a successful blood choke

Additionally, if one would look at the arm triangle it would seem like there is power involved when finishing. On the contrary, that is not the case.

Like I mentioned in my previous posts, BJJ is all about technique. Of course, we will not eliminate the use of strength and power. But the technique can be applied to opponents who are stronger and or bigger. Hence, giving you the same result of victory if done properly. 

BJJ is all about technique. Of course, strength and power will always be large factors, but the technique will always be the most important proponet of Brazilian jiu jitsu

What is most vital in the arm triangle choke is making sure that you get a good grip to position your body in relation to the other combatant. Always keep in mind to have a proper position before submission. 

Read along, as we go over this powerful attack that can be added to your BJJ arsenal.

Is the arm triangle choke a blood choke?

Yes, the arm triangle is also a blood choke. If done correctly, it applies pressure to the sides of your opponent’s neck. Thus, limiting the flow of blood or oxygen to their brain. 

Unlike other chokes such as guillotines, which are both a blood and air choke that places pressure directly on the front of your opponent’s neck limiting both the air and blood supply.

How to do the Arm Triangle Choke

The arm triangle choke is actually one of the most basic submissions that you will learn in BJJ. Although with different variations, the concept is still the same. 

If you are familiar with the standard triangle where the legs are used, know that for the arm triangle it is the head and the neck compressing the airway. Thus, blood and oxygen flow decrease to the brain. Which then can result in a tap or the other person passing out. 

Termed as a versatile submission, there are different positions to be able to achieve this attack. May it be from mount, side control, etc. but again, the idea will be the same. 

Here are some tips to successfully finish your arm triangle choke if your are coming from mount or side control: 

  • Maintain the hips and knees low. Note that it is only the balls of the feet or forearms touching the ground. 
  • The rear leg will go alongside the other combatant’s leg.
  • Allow your far leg to be at 90 degrees to the side 
  • Tighten the choke by driving your toes, and bring your weight forward towards the other person’s head. 

Read on to get a fuller idea on how to do this position from a mount and how you can escape this powerful attack. 

From Mount

One of the best positions to start with to do your standard arm triangle is from mount. From here, you would want to to 

  1. Secure your mount over your opponent. 
  2. Hook over your opponent’s head with your arm. Their head should be lying on the backside of your forearm. In this case, let us choose your left arm doing this move. 
  3. From here, allow your free hand (right) to you under their other arm. 
  4. Walk your opponent’s left arm with your right hand until they naturally block their neck.
  5. Next, grip your hands together. Do make sure that your left hand is over your hand. (cable grip) 
  6. From here, move over to the left side, and walk your body in the direction of your opponent’s head. Thus, resulting in an extremely tight choke. 

Here is the video to get a picture of what we just talked about. 

How to finish the arm triangle choke

If you find yourself in a dominant position and able to position yourself in an arm triangle. Your next move is to, of course, finish the attack. 

What you must keep in mind at all times to be able to finish are the following: 

  • Position before submission – No technique in BJJ will be counted as effective if you were not able to position yourself correctly. 
  • Secure your grip – Cover all bases and secure your grip. This will prevent your opponent from escaping. 
  • Make sure to squeeze – Tighten the choke as much as possible by walking in the direction of the head. 
  • Let go if your opponent taps out

Arm Triangle Choke Defense – How to Escape an Arm Triangle

What is so great about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is that there is always something to counter your opponent’s attacks. Now, if you are stuck in a position and about to be submitted by an arm triangle, do not panic! 

Keep in mind that there is a defense for everything in BJJ. Importantly, know that what is highly important is to have an understanding or concept of what is going on. 

As a result, you will have a far better understanding of what your options are in order to defend yourself. 

Finally, keep in mind that your goal to escape the set up is to remove your arm from isolation. 

How to stop an arm triangle?

Yes, before your opponent is able to complete their setup there is still a chance to stop the attack. The question now is, how? 

Well, you can do it by keeping your elbows in and tight to your body. Aside from that, you must use your hands and forearms to frame them away from. Do not give your opponent the chance to gain upper body control over you.

Grabbing your Leg

If you have been training BJJ and been consistently working on your flexibility then this is for you. 

Another option to escape your opponent is by grabbing your leg and rolling over. From here, you will land in a dominant position already and have room to attack your opponent. 

Escaping your Trapped Arm

 Know that you can still give your trapped arm the chance to escape. What you should be doing here is use a palm to palm grip and angling the elbow of your trapped arm. From here, you can then bridge and fight to push your elbow over and around their head to escape. 

Get a full detailed view of the different ways to escape the triangle choke by watching this. 

Last Resort – Turn Away and Give Up your Back

One thing that you can do is to give away your back. Yes, you read it correctly. Therefore, if you give your back to your opponent to control then at least you can escape the imminent submission.

From here, you will be able to breathe for a moment before then start working toward escaping the back.

Arm Triangle Choke in the UFC

As you know, the triangle choke is extremely versatile with a high success rate. One thing you can note is that it has been a highly effective game ender in UFC. 

Here is the list of the top submissions in the UFC are the following: 

Tony Ferguson is among those UFC legends who have been known to use the arm triangle choke. Hence, this can be noted in one of his fights with Edson Barboza at TUF 22. 

In addition to that, another notable UFC match that ended with an arm triangle choke is of Islam Makhachev VS Charles Olievera. As you know, Charles Olievera ranks 1st in the list of most submissions in UFC. 

However, during his match with Islam he lost. Noted prior to being taken to the ground, that there was a lot of striking that happened. Hence, he became vulnerable when he landed in the octagon. From here, Islam had the opportunity to attack him with a triangle choke. 

Lastly, one of the reasons why this choke is highly effective in UFC matches is because you are actually blocking your head from your opponent’s strike. Due to their hand being locked, and the head close to their face, there is no room to hit. 

Lastly, one of the reasons why this choke is highly effective in UFC matches is because you are actually blocking your head from your opponent’s strike. Due to their hand being locked, and the head close to their face, there is no room to hit.

Head and Arm Choke – Conclusion

To conclude, note that the arm triangle choke is a very powerful arsenal. Hence, it is vital for beginner BJJ practitioners to learn how to work this attack.

In addition, this will not only be used during the starting days of BJJ but even as one progresses to a higher rank. Moreover, it is a highly versatile submission that can be taken from different different positions. 

  • Mount
  • Side control
  • Half guard
  • Standing 
  • Others 

Not only is it effective in BJJ but it has proven its effectiveness in other sports like MMA. 

Lastly, it can be a basic move with a lot of variations that can take on an attacker who is bigger and stronger if done properly. Hence, HeavyBJJ highly recommends mastering this blood choke submission.

Other Arm Triangle Variations:

D’arce Choke

The D’Arce Choke which is pronounced as darce and popularized by Joe D’ Arce. Joe is an American 3rd degree BJJ blackbelt under Renzo Gracie who was known to be using this attack in competitions.

Let us talk about how you can do this D’Arce choke in half guard.  

  1. If you find yourself in a half guard position, what you want to do is allow your right hand to go under your opponent’s left arm (just for this scenario.) 
  2. From here, place your hand under their head (right side.) 
  3. Now, create a figure 4 with your arm. Which means, your right arm which is under the head will now grab your left bicep.
  4. As you go along, place your left hand over their scapula. 
  5. You are now positioned, now you just have to finish the choke. 
  6. To do this, you will have to drive yourself forward to tighten it. 

Know that what is great about D’Arce choke is that it has so many variations. This means, that there are other positions that you can apply it from just like: 

  • Turtle
  • From bottom 
  • Side Mount
  • Others 

Importantly, to finish this choke, you must sprawl your legs back. As a result, your weight will be transferred on the other person’s neck. This is what gives pressure to get them to tap. 

Here is the video to get a better picture of how to do it. 

Anaconda Choke

Here is another variation of the arm triangle choke which is the anaconda. Just like the standard arm triangle and D’Arce choke, this limits blood flow and oxygenation on your opponent’s brain. 

Let us talk about the brief history of this attack. It was Milton Viera, a Brazilian Lutra Livre blackbelt who started this choke. It was already present during the 90s but made popular in the 2000s. 

This attack has proven its effectiveness both in BJJ and in mixed martial arts. Additionally, it is like the reverse normal variation of the arm triangle with many different variations. 

Let us go over the simple way to apply this submission on your opponent. 

  1. If you find your opponent in a turtle position then this attack can be one of your go to. 
  2. Now you want to have head and arm control. 
  3. Secure the head and arm with your cable grip. 
  4. From here, you will use your arm to bring the elbow in. This will then make your opponent face to one side (opposite you) 
  5. From your cable grip, transition to a figure 4. 
  6. Now roll over and catch your opponent’s head on your stomach. 
  7. From here, you will now finish the attack. 
  8. Keep your arm position and their head on your stomach. Now, walk towards the lower part of your opponent’s body, making the choke tight. 

Get a better picture of what I just talked about by watching this video. 

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