Considered by many as one of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s most fundamental techniques, the triangle choke is a move we learn during our first week of training. Just like any other choke, lock, or any form of submission, it is absolutely necessary to add this hold to our arsenal, master the different methods, and apply it to our game.
The triangle choke we employ in BJJ traces its roots back to the early 20th century Judo. Two Judo masters from the famous Jigoro Kano’s dojo, namely Tsunetane Oda and Kanemitsu Yachibei Hyoe, combined their expertise to come up with a method of submitting and pinning their rivals with practicality and ease.
Oda got his 1st dan (black belt) after only one year of training, specializing in Katame Waza, or grappling holds, which was a far cry from Kano’s system focused on Nage Waza, or takedowns and throws. Together with Hyoe, Oda was influential in the development of Judo’s submission game.
At first, it seems that getting the triangle choke on an opponent can be a bit of a drag, which is why drilling is of utmost importance. With this, let us first understand the basics of how to do a triangle choke.
Let us say we are in the full guard position, we simply have to control one of our opponent’s hands and push it down so we can easily scoot our hips throw our corresponding leg over the back of his or her neck. From here, we have to lock the aforementioned leg to the back of our other knee, rotate to the side of the first leg, and squeeze.
The idea is to put pressure on our opponent’s carotid arteries, trapping his or her neck with our thigh (first leg) and his or her arm. It is also important for us to pull his or her head down and maintain control of the arm.
By now, we should be fully aware of the most basic Brazilian Jiu Jitsu positions. So aside from the traditional triangle, how do we apply this move from different angles?
A good way to set up the triangle hold from full mount is to try and get a reverse armbar. The key is to use this a decoy, an opening for one of your legs to slide under his or her neck.
Let us put it this way: once he or she blocks our reverse armbar attempt, we can drive our knee over their bicep, and let our foot pivot over, getting sort of a mounted triangle position. It is basically a triangle choke from the top.
As a white belt, it is nice to know that there are tons of submissions from the back other than a simple rear-naked choke. Again, it is all about setting up.
An essential trick to this is to have our heads tight with our opponents’ and put pressure on his or her trachea. As he or she tries to pull away, that is the point where we trap his or her arm (the side away from the ground).
From there, we can do a rolling kimura (or even an Americana) variation, but once he or she anticipates it that is when we move our leg (the side that traps the arm) over his or her neck and roll over to the other side. It will only get worse if he or she locks his or her hand tight.
Now that we have an idea on how to apply the triangle choke from different positions, it is also essential for us to know how to escape. As a rule of thumb, the most common, most effective defense to any form of submission is prevention.
We should always be aware of our adversary’s initial set up basically. However, if we were caught in a precarious situation, a few things to keep in mind are our posture and our framing off of their hips. As last resorts, so to speak, if we ever get further compromised on the triangle, we can opt for the elbow down escape and/or the knee pin escape. Again, these are our last resorts, as at the end of the day, prevention will always be better than cure.