Picture courtesy of @evolveMMA
I prefer the gi in comparison to no-gi because I feel the gi provides so many options. Not only are there more ways to grip and control your opponent but there are also more guards, take-downs, chokes, submissions and sweeps in the gi. For better or worse the gi makes the rabbit hole, aka jiu jitsu, much deeper. Some of my favourite chokes in the gi are the cross collar choke, the bow and arrow choke, the baseball bat choke, the ezekiel and the loop choke. Though these chokes are relatively simple and taught in fundamentals classes around the world they have proven to be exceptionally effective at the highest levels of the game. As an added bonus gi chokes can be utilized from virtually every position.
Some jitz players may prefer no gi. Some jitz players may prefer the gi. Either way, it is undeniable the gi offers a plethora of choices when it comes to tapping out your opponents and sparring partners. Here are a few options which have stood the test of time and will provide some sneaky options the next time you’re rolling in the gi.
The Cross Collar Choke
This will probably be one of the first chokes you’ll learn when you start BJJ. Although simple it can be incredibly effective. If the opponent doesn’t know how to defend it it is lights out. Once it’s on, it’s ON! This versatile choke can be used from the top, bottom and side control. The cross collar choke is performed by grabbing your opponent’s opposite lapel with your hands, so your arms and wrists create an ‘X’ position. You then pull your hands in opposite directions towards your chest to finish the choke. For further explanation and guidance watch the video below from one of the greatest cross chokers of all time: Roger Gracie,
Bow and Arrow
Anyone who watched the 2019 IBJJF World Championships saw so many bow and arrow finishes you may have thought it was the Wild Wild West. Elite competitors have shown its effectiveness so take it when you can get it. From mount position, when your partners tries to escape, they will often try to shrimp on their side. With the bow and arrow choke you can take advantage of this escape. Grab your partner’s collar whilst they’re on their side and you are in a modified mount position. From here you’re half-way to the finish. The choke is on but in order to finish the bow and arrow you should grab your partner’s pant leg to prevent him from rolling out of the choke. From this strong modified mount position keep an eye out for your partner’s arm because if if makes a defensive mistake he/she may give up an arm as well. To paraphrase ol’ Shakespeare, “Do I take the arm or the choke…that is the question.” For a step-by-step guide watch the video below.
Everyone who has watched Nicholas Meregalli win his championships has seen a master of the loop choke in action. The loop choke is sneaky because you don’t have to stick your hand deep in your partner’s collar for it to be highly effective. Grab your partner’s lapel with your opposite hand. As you break his/her posture loop your forearm across and around their throat as you shoot your other arm across the back of his/her neck and through the “hole” created be your gripping arm. The loop choke is brutally tight and comes on very fast when executed correctly.
The basic idea of the ezekiel is to use the sleeve of your own Gi as leverage to choke your opponent. Although the ezekiel comes on slower than some of the other chokes mentioned in this article it is tricky because often your opponent may not be aware they are about to pass out. One minute they think they are fine and the next they are waking up while unceremoniously staring into the ceiling lights. The Ezekiel is sort of like a front rear naked except you will use your sleeve for leverage instead of the crease in your arm. This is probably one of the most versatile chokes in jiu jitsu as you can catch it from virtually every position.
This is one of the quickest chokes to come on if done properly. You can be in knee on belly, mount or side control to secure this choke. You begin by placing your hand underneath the back of your opponent’s neck. Now place your thumb inside his/her collar. Then with your other hand weave it through their lapel thumb up. With your forearms create a scissor motion with your arms as you apply pressure to your partner’s neck. As soon as the grips are locked in and the scissor action begins the choke will come on strong. Although a versatile and powerful choke that can be used from top and bottom it is, probably, most effective from the top position.
As we all know video tutorials can make these techniques look easy. However, it is a different ball game when you’re rolling live. Just like drills in class you may execute the move when your partner isn’t defending. However, when put into practice during live rolling it can seem next to impossible. Be patient, keep practicing the subtleties of these chokes and I promise (backed by some of the best in the World) they will begin to work. Just remember that like every technique these moves aren’t guaranteed to work on every partner every time. Especially if they have a good choke defense game. However, even if the chokes aren’t successful they can often be used as a catalyst to create opportunities for other submissions. For more fundamental tips check out my last article: Tips for the Half Guard Lockdown.