Triangle chokes are one of the most popular and powerful submissions in jiu-jitsu. They are also known as “sankaku-jime” in Japanese and are common submission holds used in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo and other grappling martial arts. Triangle chokes are powerful submissions, that have been used at the highest levels of MMA and competition submission grappling.
What is a Triangle Choke?
A triangle choke is a submission hold commonly used in grappling martial arts, such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and mixed martial arts (MMA). It is a type of chokehold that is applied using the legs to constrict an opponent’s neck and cut off their carotid arteries and blood flow, leading to unconsciousness or submission.
To execute a triangle choke, the attacker starts by getting their opponent into a position where their head and arm are between the attacker’s legs. This can be done by pulling their opponent’s head down while also controlling one of their arms.
Once in position, the attacker then wraps their legs around their opponent’s neck and arm, creating a triangle shape with their legs. The attacker then tightens their legs by squeezing their thighs together while also pulling down on their opponent’s head with their arms. This puts pressure on the opponent’s neck and can lead to unconsciousness or submission.
The triangle choke can be a highly effective submission hold, but it requires a good deal of skill and practice to execute properly. It can also be difficult to set up against a skilled opponent, as they may be able to defend against it or counter with their own submission attempts.
Brief History of the Triangle Choke
The triangle choke is a technique used in various grappling martial arts, including Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and Submission Wrestling. The history of the triangle choke can be traced back to the early days of Judo and Japanese Jiu-Jitsu.
One of the earliest known practitioners of the triangle choke was Mitsuyo Maeda, a Japanese Judoka who became known for his travels and demonstrations of Judo techniques in the early 20th century. Maeda eventually ended up in Brazil, where he taught Judo to Carlos Gracie, who would later develop Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with Helio Gracie. Maeda taught Carlos and his brothers’ many techniques, including the triangle choke.
The triangle choke became popularized in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu during the 1980s and 1990s, as BJJ gained popularity and practitioners started competing in international grappling competitions. One of the most famous uses of the triangle choke in BJJ was by Royler Gracie, who used the technique to defeat Masakazu Imanari in the 1999 ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship.
Since then, the triangle choke has become a staple of BJJ and other grappling martial arts. It is often used as a finishing hold in competitions and has been adapted and refined by practitioners to work from a variety of positions.
Overall, the history of the triangle choke can be traced back to the early days of Judo and Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, and it has since become a widely used and effective technique in modern grappling martial arts and taught in self-defense classes.
Different Triangle Chokes
The triangle choke is a common submission hold that can be executed from various positions and including guard, mount, and side control.
- Basic Triangle Choke: The basic triangle choke is executed by trapping one of your opponent’s arms between your legs while your other leg goes around their neck, creating a figure-four shape with your legs. You then apply pressure to their neck and shoulder by squeezing your legs together and pulling down on their trapped arm creating the perfect triangle.
- Inverted Triangle Choke: The inverted triangle choke is a variation of the triangle choke that is executed from the bottom position. To execute this choke, you use your legs to trap your opponent’s head and one of their arms, while facing downwards. This is a more advanced technique to execute but can be very effective when used correctly.
- Side Triangle Choke: The side triangle choke, also known as the side-mount triangle choke or the reverse triangle choke, is executed from the side mount position. To execute this choke, you use your legs to trap your opponent’s head and one of their arms, while you are in side control. This side choke is often used as a surprise submission when your opponent is not expecting it.
- Mounted Triangle Choke: The mounted triangle choke is executed from the mount position. To execute this choke, you use your legs to trap your opponent’s head and one of their arms, while you are sitting on top of them in the mount position. This choke can be very difficult to escape from and can be a very effective finishing hold.
- Triangle Armbar: The triangle armbar is a combination submission that combines the triangle choke and armbar. To execute this submission, you start with the basic triangle choke, but when your opponent tries to defend, you transition to an armbar by extending your hips and straightening your legs while pulling on their arm.
- Rear Triangle Choke: Similar to basic triangle choke but set up from the back or behind the opponent.
The triangle requires proper positioning, leverage, and technique to be effective. It’s a tough position to defend against but there are some options with the right strategy.
What Positions can I set up a Triangle Choke?
The triangle choke is a highly versatile submission technique in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and other grappling arts, and it can be set up from a variety of positions. There are a number setups for a triangle entry, but here are some common positions from which you can set up the triangle choke:
- Guard: The guard or front triangle is one of the most common positions from which to set up the triangle choke and is often a coach’s favorite to teach. From the closed guard, you can control your opponent’s posture and movement, making it easier to set up the triangle choke. You can also set up the triangle choke from a loose half guard and various open guards, including the spider guard and the De La Riva guard.
- Mount: The mount position can also be used to set up the triangle choke. From the mount, you can control your opponent’s upper body and set up the triangle choke by trapping your opponent’s arm and transitioning to the triangle position.
- Side control: The side control and knee-on-belly positions can be used to set up the triangle choke by transitioning to the triangle position when your opponent attempts to escape from the bottom side control or regain guard.
- Back mount: From the back control or back mount position or if your opponent turtles, you can set up the triangle choke by transitioning to the triangle position and trapping one of your opponent’s arms. Control your opponent’s hips while in turtle position, then set over one of their shoulders for a triangle or armbar transition.
- Standing: You can also set up the triangle choke from a standing position and even hit a flying triangle. Most will go the safer route by pulling their opponent’s torso into guard or by using a specific takedown to bring them to the ground and then transition to the triangle position.
It’s important to note that while the triangle choke can be set up from a variety of positions, it requires drills, a great deal of practice, and proficiency in grappling fundamentals to execute it effectively. Additionally, proper technique and control must be maintained throughout the setup to avoid exposing yourself to counters and escapes.
What are Submissions from the Triangle Position?
The triangle position is a highly effective position in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and other grappling arts for controlling and submitting your opponent. Here are some common submissions that can be performed from the triangle position:
- Triangle choke: The triangle choke is the most common submission from the triangle position. To apply the triangle choke, wrap your legs around your opponent’s neck and one of their arms to create a triangle shape with your legs. From there, use your hips to apply pressure to their neck by squeezing your thighs together and pulling their trapped arm across their neck. Often, an angle is required for the most effective results.
- Armbar: From the triangle position, you can also apply an armbar by controlling your opponent’s trapped arm with your grips and arms, and locking it out straight. Apply pressure to their elbow joint by raising your hips and pulling their wrist towards your chest.
- Omoplata: The omoplata is a shoulder lock that can be applied from the triangle position by using your legs to control your opponent’s shoulder and your arms to control their arm. To apply the omoplata, use your legs to push their shoulder down towards their hip while using your arms to control their arm and apply pressure to their shoulder joint.
- Wrist lock: From the triangle position, you can also apply a wrist lock by controlling your opponent’s trapped arm, gaining wrist control, and applying pressure to their wrist joint by twisting their hand inwards or outwards.
Again, while these submissions are effective from the triangle position, they should only be attempted with proper training and under the supervision of a qualified instructor.
What are ways to Defend the Triangle Choke?
There are several ways to defend against a triangle choke in grappling martial arts:
- Posture up: If an opponent is attempting to set up a triangle choke from their guard, one effective defense is to posture up by straightening your back and pushing your opponent’s legs down. This can prevent your opponent from getting their legs around your neck and can create space to escape or transition to a different position.
- Defend against the arm across: To set up a triangle choke, the attacker needs to control one of the defender’s arms and pass it across their body. One way to defend against the triangle choke is to keep your arms close to your body and prevent your opponent from controlling one of them.
- Stack the attacker: If an attacker has wrapped their legs around your neck and is applying pressure, you can try to stack them by standing up or lifting them off the ground. This can alleviate the pressure and create space to escape the choke.
- Counter with a submission: If an attacker has partially secured the triangle choke but has not yet fully locked it in, you can try to counter with a submission of your own. For example, you can try to grab your opponent’s foot and apply a toe hold or heel hook, or you can try to grab their arm and apply an armbar.
- Escape the position: If an attacker has fully secured the triangle choke and is applying pressure, you can try to escape the position by rolling or spinning out of it. This can be difficult to do and requires a good deal of skill and practice.
It’s important to note that defending against a triangle choke can be challenging, especially against a skilled attacker. The best defense is to prevent your opponent from setting up the choke in the first place by maintaining good posture and keeping your arms close to your body.
Who are the Best Grapplers at Triangle Chokes?
There have been many skilled practitioners of the triangle choke throughout the history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and other grappling martial arts. Here are a few notable practitioners who are known for their expertise in the triangle choke:
- Royler Gracie: Royler Gracie is a 7th-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and a member of the Gracie family. He is known for his mastery of the triangle choke and has used the technique to win numerous competitions, including the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship.
- Roger Gracie: Roger Gracie is another member of the Gracie family and a 10-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Champion. He is known for his precision and control in executing the triangle choke and has used the technique to submit many opponents throughout his career.
- Marcelo Garcia: Marcelo Garcia is a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and a five-time World Champion. He is known for his innovative use of the triangle choke, particularly from the butterfly guard position, and has used the technique to win many high-level competitions.
- Ryan Hall: Ryan Hall is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, UFC fighter and a renowned submission artist. He is known for his unorthodox approach to the triangle choke, including his use of the “Ryan Hall triangle” variation, which involves rolling his opponent over his shoulder to finish the submission.
- Shinya Aoki: Shinya Aoki is a Japanese MMA fighter and submission specialist. He is known for his use of the inverted triangle choke, a variation of the triangle choke that involves rolling onto your back and trapping your opponent’s head and arm between your legs.
Overall, there are many skilled practitioners of the triangle choke in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and other grappling martial arts. These individuals have developed and refined their techniques over years of training and competition, and have used the triangle choke to win many high-level matches.
Why Should I Learn the Triangle Choke?
The triangle choke is a highly effective submission technique in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and other grappling arts that can be applied from a variety of positions. Learning the triangle choke can offer several benefits, including:
- Versatility: The triangle choke can be applied from a variety of positions, including from the guard, mount, and side control. This makes it a versatile technique that can be used in a variety of situations.
- High percentage submission: The triangle choke is considered to be one of the highest percentage submissions in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, meaning that it is often successful when properly executed.
- Control: The triangle choke allows you to control your opponent’s posture and movement, making it difficult for them to escape or defend themselves.
- Combines well with other techniques: The triangle choke can be used in combination with other techniques, such as sweeps and transitions, to create a more effective grappling game.
- Improves overall grappling skills: Learning the triangle choke requires a deep understanding of grappling concepts, such as angles, leverage, and control. This can help to improve your overall grappling skills and make you a more well-rounded practitioner.
Overall, learning the triangle choke can greatly enhance your grappling skills and offer a powerful tool for controlling and submitting your opponents. However, it is important to note that the triangle choke is an advanced technique that requires a great deal of practice and proficiency in grappling fundamentals.