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Mastering the Guillotine Choke in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu: BJJ 101

guillotine choke bjj

The Guillotine Choke is one of the most famous and effective moves in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). Named after an old execution device, this chokehold is great for both beginners and advanced fighters. It’s versatile and powerful, making it a key move in both BJJ and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). In this guide, we’ll explore variations, how to do it, and how to use the Guillotine Choke. You’ll get all the knowledge you need to master this important technique.

guillotine choke

Anatomy of the Guillotine Choke

Mechanics of the Choke

The Guillotine Choke works by squeezing the opponent’s neck, targeting the carotid arteries and the windpipe. When done right, the choke cuts off blood flow to the brain, making the opponent pass out if they don’t tap out. The pressure on the windpipe also makes it hard for the opponent to breathe, causing panic and discomfort.

Pressure Points

Knowing the key pressure points is important for doing the Guillotine Choke well. The main targets are the carotid arteries, which are on both sides of the neck. Squeezing these arteries can quickly make the opponent pass out. Pressing on the windpipe can also make it hard for the opponent to breathe, adding to the choke’s power.

Safety Considerations

While the Guillotine Choke is a strong move, it’s important to be safe when practicing and using it. Always make sure your training partners know about the choke and can tap out if they feel uncomfortable. Don’t crank the neck or use too much force, as this can cause injuries. Good technique and control are key to doing the Guillotine Choke safely and effectively.

Variations of the Guillotine Choke

Arm-In Guillotine

The Arm-In Guillotine is a version where the opponent’s arm is trapped along with their neck. This gives you more control and makes it harder for the opponent to escape. To do the Arm-In Guillotine, secure the opponent’s head and arm, then squeeze your arms together and arch your back.

High-Elbow Guillotine

The High-Elbow Guillotine, also called the “Marcelotine” after BJJ legend Marcelo Garcia, involves lifting your elbow high while doing the choke. This increases the pressure on the opponent’s neck and makes it harder for them to defend. To do the High-Elbow Guillotine, secure the opponent’s head, lift your elbow, and pull up and back.

One-Handed Guillotine

The One-Handed Guillotine is a more advanced version that needs precise control and technique. As the name suggests, this choke is done using only one hand to squeeze the opponent’s neck. The free hand can be used to control the opponent’s body or defend against their attempts to escape. To do the One-Handed Guillotine, secure the opponent’s head with one hand, squeeze and arch your back, and use your free hand to maintain control.

10-Finger Guillotine

The 10-Finger Guillotine, also known as the “10-Finger Choke,” involves using both hands to squeeze the opponent’s neck. This version is especially effective when the opponent’s head is low, like during a takedown attempt. To do the 10-Finger Guillotine, interlock your fingers around the opponent’s neck, squeeze your hands together, and arch your back to increase the choke’s power.

When to Use the Guillotine Choke

Against Wrestlers

The Guillotine Choke is very effective against wrestlers, who often go for takedowns with their heads facing the mat. By taking advantage of this position, you can secure the choke and make your opponent tap out before they complete the takedown. The Guillotine Choke is a great counter to aggressive wrestling techniques and can change the course of a match in your favor.

Self-Defense Situations

In self-defense situations, the Guillotine Choke can be a valuable tool for stopping an attacker. Untrained opponents who try to tackle you to the ground often leave their necks exposed, giving you a chance to secure the choke. By applying the Guillotine Choke, you can quickly stop the attacker and create an opportunity to escape or get help.

Common Positions

The Guillotine Choke can be done from various positions, making it a versatile move. Some common positions include:

  • Closed Guard: The bottom closed guard is a common position for doing the Guillotine Choke. By securing the opponent’s head and squeezing, you can make them tap out from the bottom position.

  • Mount: From the mount position, you can do the Guillotine Choke by securing the opponent’s head and using your body weight to increase the pressure.

  • Sprawl: When defending against a takedown, the sprawl position lets you secure the Guillotine Choke and make the opponent tap out before they complete the takedown.

  • Standing: The Guillotine Choke can also be done from a standing position, making it useful in both BJJ and MMA.

Executing the Guillotine Choke

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Secure the Head: Start by securing the opponent’s head under your armpit, making sure your forearm is under their neck.

  2. Grip and Control: Use your other hand to grip your wrist, creating a secure hold around the opponent’s neck.

  3. Apply Pressure: Squeeze your arms together and arch your back to apply pressure to the opponent’s neck. Focus on squeezing the carotid arteries and the windpipe.

  4. Maintain Control: Keep your body tight and maintain control of the opponent’s head to stop them from escaping.

  5. Finish the Choke: Keep applying pressure until the opponent taps out or passes out.

Common Mistakes

  • Incorrect Grip: Not securing a proper grip can make the choke less effective. Make sure your hands are positioned correctly and that you have a firm hold on the opponent’s neck.

  • Lack of Pressure: Not applying enough pressure can let the opponent escape. Focus on squeezing your arms together and arching your back to maximize the choke’s power.

  • Poor Control: Losing control of the opponent’s head can lead to escapes. Keep a tight hold and use your body to control their movements.

Tips for Success

  • Practice Regularly: Consistent practice is key to mastering the Guillotine Choke. Include the choke in your training routine and focus on improving your technique.

  • Work with Partners: Training with different partners can help you understand the choke better and how to use it against various opponents.

  • Seek Feedback: Ask experienced fighters and instructors for feedback on your technique. Use their insights to make adjustments and improve your execution.

Defending Against the Guillotine Choke

Recognizing the Setup

The first step in defending against the Guillotine Choke is recognizing the setup. Pay attention to your opponent’s movements and be aware of situations where they might try to secure the choke. Common setups include:

  • Takedown Attempts: Be careful when going for takedowns, as this is a prime chance for your opponent to apply the Guillotine Choke.

  • Clinch Positions: In the clinch, watch your opponent’s grip and head position. Avoid leaving your neck exposed and maintain a strong posture.

Effective Counters

  • Hand Fighting: Use hand fighting techniques to break your opponent’s grip and stop them from securing the choke. Focus on controlling their hands and wrists to disrupt their setup.

  • Posture and Positioning: Maintain a strong posture and position to make it hard for your opponent to apply the choke. Keep your head up and your neck protected.

  • Escape Techniques: Learn and practice escape techniques to counter the Guillotine Choke. Common escapes include:

    • Rolling Escape: Roll to the side and use your body weight to break the opponent’s grip.
    • Arm Over Escape: Bring your arm over the opponent’s shoulder and use it to create space and break the choke.
    • Stacking Escape: Stack your opponent by driving your weight forward and using your body to create pressure and force them to release the choke.

Escaping the Choke

If you find yourself caught in a Guillotine Choke, it’s important to stay calm and execute your escape technique effectively. Focus on creating space and breaking the opponent’s grip while maintaining control of your body. Practice escape techniques regularly to build confidence and improve your ability to defend against the choke.

Training the Guillotine Choke

Drills and Exercises

Include specific drills and exercises in your training routine to improve your Guillotine Choke technique. Some effective drills include:

  • Partner Drills: Work with a partner to practice securing and applying the Guillotine Choke from various positions. Focus on improving your grip, control, and pressure.

  • Positional Drills: Practice applying the Guillotine Choke from different positions, like closed guard, mount, and sprawl. This will help you develop a versatile and adaptable technique.

  • Flow Drills: Combine the Guillotine Choke with other submissions and transitions to create a smooth flow of techniques. This will improve your ability to apply the choke in dynamic situations.

Partner Training

Training with partners is essential for developing a strong Guillotine Choke. Work with different partners to experience various body types and resistance levels. Focus on maintaining control and applying the choke effectively while ensuring the safety of your training partners.

Solo Drills

While partner training is important, solo drills can also help you improve your Guillotine Choke technique. Some effective solo drills include:

  • Grip Strengthening: Use grip strength exercises, like squeezing a tennis ball or using a grip trainer, to improve your ability to secure the choke.

  • Neck Strengthening: Do neck strengthening exercises, like neck bridges and resistance band exercises, to build the strength needed to apply and defend against the choke.

The Guillotine Choke in MMA

Applications in MMA

The Guillotine Choke is a powerful tool in MMA, offering a reliable way to submit opponents from various positions. Its effectiveness lies in its versatility and ability to counter aggressive takedown attempts. By including the Guillotine Choke in your MMA training, you can develop a well-rounded and effective submission game.

Training for MMA

To effectively include the Guillotine Choke in your MMA training, focus on the following areas:

  • Takedown Defense: Develop strong takedown defense skills to create opportunities for the Guillotine Choke.

  • Clinch Work: Practice securing the Guillotine Choke from the clinch and using it to control and submit opponents.

  • Ground and Pound: Combine the Guillotine Choke with ground and pound techniques to create a well-rounded and effective MMA game.

The Guillotine Choke in Self-Defense

Real-World Applications

The Guillotine Choke is a valuable tool for self-defense, offering a reliable way to stop an attacker. By applying the choke, you can quickly stop the attacker and create an opportunity to escape or get help. The choke’s effectiveness in real-world situations makes it a valuable addition to any self-defense plan.

Legal Considerations

When using the Guillotine Choke in self-defense, it’s important to be aware of the legal considerations. Always prioritize your safety and the safety of others, and use the choke only when necessary to protect yourself. Be mindful of the potential legal implications and seek legal advice if needed.

Safety Tips

To ensure your safety and the safety of others when using the Guillotine Choke in self-defense, follow these tips:

  • Practice Regularly: Regular practice will help you develop the skills and confidence needed to apply the choke effectively.

  • Stay Calm: In a self-defense situation, remain calm and focused. Avoid panicking and execute the choke with control and precision.

  • Know When to Release: Be aware of the signs that the attacker is stopped and release the choke once they are no longer a threat.

Advanced Techniques and Transitions

Combining with Other Submissions

The Guillotine Choke can be combined with other submissions to create a smooth flow of techniques. Some effective combinations include:

  • Guillotine to Armbar: Transition from the Guillotine Choke to an armbar by securing the opponent’s arm and applying pressure.

  • Guillotine to Triangle Choke: Use the Guillotine Choke to set up a triangle choke by trapping the opponent’s arm and leg.

  • Guillotine to Kimura: Transition from the Guillotine Choke to a Kimura by securing the opponent’s arm and applying pressure.

Transitioning to Sweeps

The Guillotine Choke can also be used to set up sweeps and reversals. Some effective transitions include:

  • Guillotine to Hip Bump Sweep: Use the Guillotine Choke to create space and execute a hip bump sweep.

  • Guillotine to Butterfly Sweep: Transition from the Guillotine Choke to a butterfly sweep by securing the opponent’s head and using your legs to create space.

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