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Rear Naked Choke 101: The King of Submissions

Rear Naked Choke

The rear naked choke is probably the most popular submission out there.

Almost everyone knows what a rear naked choke is, but many people don’t know:

  • how to effectively take the back and reach the back mount position
  • how to properly maintain back control
  • the correct finishing details of a rear naked choke
  • how to defend the rear naked choke and how to escape back control

Next, there’s a reason why it still has some of the highest submission rates out there – even after the boom of leg attacks.

Here is a video of one of my matches where I was able to effectively get the rear naked choke submission:

The rear naked choke submission continues to be popular and very effective even at the highest levels of competition:

pie chart of the successful submission used in the North American ADCC trials in 2022

Where did the Rear Naked Choke Name Come from?

It is called ‘rear’ because that attack will be from behind the opponent. Now the term ‘naked’ has been coined with it because unlike other techniques, you do not need any object or Gi to be able to do it. Therefore, making the RNC highly useful in both Gi and No Gi for BJJ. 

How is it used as a submission?

The rear naked choke is primarily a blood choke. Buy why? The rear choke restricts the blood flow to the brain. 

So as you apply pressure on your opponent’s neck, you are also compressing their jugular vein. This makes carotid arteries on both sides narrow down. The result of this will be, your opponent feeling flushed and can lose consciousness if not able to tap out early. 

Amazing right?

Why is the Rear Naked Choke a Good Submission for Beginners?

As a beginner BJJ practitioner, your main focus should be learning how to survie and avoid being in a less dominant position – and having someone on your back is likely the most dominant position for your opponenet.

Like they always say “no matter what, do not give up your back.”

However, there will also be times when you are sparring with someone who is at your same experience level so you should know a couple beginner bjj submissions – and the rear naked choke is one recommended ones:

Take a look at this infographic and the descriptions below describing the rear naked choke when compared to other submissions:

  • Easy to Setup:
    • while it is more difficult to setup and reach the back of your opponent once you are there it is some what easy to usually get the rear naked choke
  • Effectivenss:
    • it is very effective at finishing your opponent – while your opponent may be able to escape or survive other submissions, escaping a sunk in rear nake choke is near impossible
  • Finishing Ease
    • once you learn the mechanics it is a very easy submission to finish
  • Other Subsmissions:
    • the rear naked choke doesn’t offter many options to transfer to other subsmissions (as opoosed to a kimura which allows opening for a variety of submissions)

Why Choking Someone From Behind Is Best

With the rear naked choke, your opponent will be at a natural disadvantage when they try to defend. While the human body is effective at defending attacks that are in front of them, when performing the rear naked choke you are behind them and they are very limited in how they can defend and counter attack.

Although you have the opening to attack and different choking attacks, you have many other options. Your attacks will not be limited to doing the rear naked choke. You can transition to different attacks and positions. This will depend on how you would like to play your game that time.

But here are some other things that you can work on when you have your oppoent’s back.

  • Armbar 
  • Suloev stretch 
  • Dismantler 
  • Darce 
  • Rear triangle choke
  • Bow and arrow choke 
  • Others

What is so great about having your opponent’s back is that there will be an opening for a choke. Not only that, you have different variations you can play with and choose from.

Taking the back

Taking the back is also termed as back take or back mount in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. If you are unfamiliar with this position, then allow me to describe it for you. This is when you find yourself in an advantageous position of having your opponent’s back in front of you. 

More often than not, you have your hands positioned in a seatbelt. While your legs are in hooks in position. Although hooks in is not the only position you can place your legs. You have the option to do a diagonal control, body triangle, arm lock and so on. 

 From here, you will be able to coin different attacks like chokes and armlocks. 

But the next question is how does one get here? Well there are many ways just like: 

  • Mount
  • Side control 
  • Standing 
  • Close guard
  • Dela Riva
  • Reverse dela Riva
  • Turtle

Like I said earlier, taking the back is highly advantageous. This goes the same in competitions. 

Here’s a short video explaining the back control rules in IBJJF. 

Arm Drag to the Back from Guard

If you find yourself in a closed guard, know that you can take your opponent’s back from here. The question is how? 

  1. Maintain the close guard.
  2. Choose an arm. Let’s say, the right one. From here, grab their right triceps and pull towards the opposite direction. Make sure that you’re able to pin down the arm that you pulled.
  3. From here, use your left hand to grab their left lats.
  4. Do a side scissor, then pendulum your left leg up while you tuck your right elbow up. 
  5. Now, you want to make sure that your chest never faces the ceiling or upwards. This is to refrain your opponent from posturing up. 
  6. Hence, you will be able to move swiftly upwards and landing into a back take position. 

Amazing and pretty straight forward video explanation by legend Gordon Ryan on how you can take the back from an arm drag.

When they Turtle

Now, if your opponent is in a turtle position. Then there’s definitely a way to get to their back from here. 

  1. The first thing that you want to do is to off balance them. Just drop them to your side. In this case, let’s choose the left side. 
  2. So they have landed on their left side already. Your next move will be, harness them and do a seatbelt. 
  3. Next, you will want to jump on their back as you maintain the seatbelt. 
  4. Note that you should block their hips to prevent them from escaping. 
  5. From here, you can roll to be able to get their back and submit them.

There are different variations you can work on in this position. Check out this video for a more detailed explanation. 

From Side Control or Mount

If you find yourself in a side control or mount position, know that you are in advantage. Now, if you want to take their back then you must be able to expose it. 

Hence, whenever a person turns away, be it from side control or mount and they should come up the ground you have a chance to take their back – usually with a “chair sit.” 

The question is how to get from side control to a chair sit position? 

  1. Maintain your side control .
  2. The arm below your opponent’s neck will be used to cup their shoulder. While the other arm will hold the back of the thigh, just above the knee of the leg on your side. 
  3. Once you are confident with your position, your next step is to push them over with your belly. 
  4. Lean the leg closer to the head forward, then lift your other leg over. This lands parallel to the belly. 
  5. Now, grab their head and sit back. 
  6. From here, drop to the ground then lift the leg close to head over to the front. 
  7. If you are already done with step 6, you are now able to work on your chain of attacks. In this case, I highly recommend doing your rear nake choke. 

Controlling Someone from the Back Mount position

Now that you have your opponent’s back. The next thing you want to happen is to be able to control and prevent them from escaping. Here are my tips on how you will be able to do this. 

  • Block the shoulder – maintaining your seatbelt position will prevent your opponent from escaping. 
  • Limit the movement of their head – I like using the term, ear to ear or cheek to cheek in this case. Moreover, place your chin over your opponent’s shoulder to secure this. 
  • Body lock – this will limit leg movement from your opponent.
  • Arm isolation – Trap their arm, to prevent them from removing your body lock and or breaking your triangle. 

Keep those tips in mind at all times when doing the back mount. Note that your goal will be to prevent your opponent from facing you again. Moreover, once you have their back controlled, you can play with this position while you decide on how you want to finish the game. 

Using body triangle

One of the strongest controlling positions if you have your opponent’s back is the body triangle. 

Your opponent’s lower body movement will be limited. Some people even tap out when your body triangle is extremely tight. 

Let us go over the steps and simple details on how to achieve this. 

  1. Now, you have your opponent’s back. Make sure you maintain it at all costs. 
  2. Drop to your side. Let’s say the left. 
  3. The next thing you have to do is, move your left leg over the belly and then lock it under the other leg. This will be below the knee. 
  4. The most important detail here is you want your feet to point upwards. This will make the lock tight.

Always know that, never take for granted the microdetails being explained because these are the things that make the attacks. highly effective.

Diagonal Control

Another great controlling position when you have your opponent’s back is the diagonal control. This is when you control your opponent’s hip and the opposite shoulder. 

The best way to do is by: 

  1. Hook one leg in between the other person’s legs. 
  2. Then grab your chosen wrist. 
  3. In this position, you already have control already. 

This will give you the ability to follow your opponent’s movement and prevent them from escaping. Moreover, you can focus on the attack that you want to work on. 

Here’s a clip explaining why the diagonal control is highly important.

Arm Trapping

One of my most favorite things to do when I have the back of my opponent is trapping the arm. I make sure that I am able to do this first before focusing on doing my rear naked choke.

Let us go over how it works. Go ahead and picture that you already have your opponent’s back. Of course, you want to maintain that position at all costs. One option is to do an arm trap. 

  1. So you have the back, and you are able to trap one arm already. But there is still another arm that you should focus on. 
  2. Hence, your leg that is not blocking that hip will go over the shoulder of the free arm.
  3. Then do a leg press to move away and prevent your opponent’s arm from any movement. 

 How to Perform The Rear Naked Choke Submission

Now that you know how to get to the back, the next thing I will talk about is how to perform the rear naked choke submission. 

Note that in any attack in BJJ you have to be able to set up correctly and position yourself. Why? Your submission will not work if you do not have those two correctly. 

Note that in any attack in BJJ you have to be able to set up correctly and position yourself. Why? Your submission will not work if you do not have those two correctly.

Although there are different variations on how to do the rear naked choke. I will be talking about the most common variation of the  RNC is done this way: 

  1. Your choking arm will encircle your opponent’s neck. This means that your forearm will be underneath their chin.
  2. Now, your choking arm should grasp the bicep of your non choking arm.
  3. The hand of the  non choking arm will then be placed behind the head or shoulder of your opponent.
  4. To finish the choke, bring your elbows together and flex your arms. Thus, resulting in significant pressure being applied to both sides of their neck.

Quite interesting right? If you are able to do this correctly then your opponent will definitely tap out or pass out. 

If they do pass out, note that they will regain consciousness but it is still very important to know first aid and basic steps on how to help them. But we will save that talk for next time. 

Rear Naked Choke Variations

One handed finish

Did you know that you can finish a rear naked choke with just one hand? Trust me, it just works the same as the common rear naked choke that you are familiar with. 

One way of how to do it is by: 

  1. One, securing the back. 
  2. Use one arm to wrap around the neck. 
  3. Now place the wrapping arm over your neck, then look up. 

Easy, right? But highly effective. Check out this short video on how to work on another style of the one handed finish. 

Short Choke

Let us talk about the short choke. I can say that, if your one handed finish did not work then you can quickly transition to this one. 

  1. You have your arm wrapped around your opponent’s neck. 
  2. Your free arm will go to the back and will hold your other arm. Key detail here is to make sure that arm is the one facing up. 
  3. From here, place the side of the forearm flat on the back (facing up hand)  while you shrug the opposite elbow upwards. 

Arm In Rear Naked choke

One thing about this arm in the rear naked choke is that it is similar to the arm triangle. Picture yourself having your opponent’s back already, and ready to attack. 

  1. Wrap one arm around your opponent. But this time, instead of reaching for your shoulder, go under their arm. 
  2. Now, your choking arm should meet the forearm of your opposite arm. 
  3. The last detail is to face the direction of the choking arm. Hence, tightening the choke. 

Note that, there are other positions that you can apply this kind of choke. An example is in the turtle position. 

How to Escape Back Control

Know that there is no attack or move in BJJ without any counter or escape. So it is definitely possible to escape the back control. 

Personally, I like breaking the seatbelt first. One of my favorite things to do is the telephone. Which involves inserting my arm in between the seatbelt. 

From here, I will position that hand like I am talking to someone over the phone. The next and most important thing is to open up that arm by doing an 80 degree movement. 

Watch this highly detailed video of Andre Galvao talking about different ways to escape the back control. 

Escaping the body triangle

If you find yourself trapped in a body triangle position, there is still hope! You can still escape this position. 

Instead of just focusing on breaking the arm, you must pay attention and break both controls. One arm will prevent the rear nake choke from happening, while the other will break the body triangle.

So how to stop the body triangle? You must be able to bring the locking leg in between their legs. Another way to describe this is, position it enough for you to be able to grab. 

Now, you are able to grab the push it away and square up. From here, you can now work on escaping your opponent further. 

If you are a beginner in BJJ, I highly suggest to work on your rear naked choke. Make this one of your go to submissions if you are able to take the back of your opponent. The most common position, like I talked about earlier is pretty straight forward.

Once you are able to master this, then you most definitely will be able to play it around.

You will be more than capable of finding different variations to try it with and find out what works best with you.

Moreover, the more you learn, train and apply your skills, the better understanding you will have.

Keep grinding!

Keep learning!

Hope you have a good day and see you in the next one!

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