Arm in Guillotine vs High Elbow Guillotine (Marcelotine)

Arm in Guillotine vs High Elbow Guillotine (Marcelotine)

Today is Guillotine day here at BJJ Fanatics.  The Guillotine choke is an extremely popular submission in both Gi and NoGi.  It is one of the first submissions many people learn and one of the most effective.  There are a multitude of variations for the Guillotine!  Some have different grips, hand positioning and set-ups.  Some people prefer arm in Guillotines, some prefer the high elbow or "Marcelotine.”  The question we must ask today, is one guillotine variation superior then the other?

This is a very difficult question because none of them are superior to the other; it really depends on who is better at which one. For example, Marcelo Garcia is amazing at the high elbow guillotine, and Jeff Glover is very good at the arm in, they each have their benefits to them but it depends what you are better at and what you train.  Some people like different things.  The two best competitors in the world at the guillotine are Marcelo Garcia and Kron and they both do them differently.  Let’s take a look at what each one has to offer and watch some videos on them.

Arm in Guillotine

The arm in guillotine is one of the best submissions in the world, leave the topic of which guillotine is better out of it and just take any submission, this is one of the best, we have seen this submission completed successfully at the highest levels of MMA and bjj.   We have seen so many world class Jiu Jitsu competitors be defeated by a good arm in guillotine.  This submission is amazing because of its versatility.  You can use this position in MMA, in the gi, and in nogi successfully.   It is one of the best in the world. 

So why would somebody learn the arm in over the high elbow?  The arm in is not as aggressive as the high elbow, you can use the arm in guillotine position to control your opponent.  For example, this position is often referred to as the head and arm control.  The head and arm control is seen very often from turtle, and from half guard.  This position is excellent because you are relatively safe in this position and you have a lot of options.  Depending on what you are competing in, this may be the guillotine for you. 

If you are competing in MMA, the arm in guillotine is one of the best things to learn, this is because if it does not work you will maintain control over your opponent, you will be safe, and you can transition to other head and arm chokes.  Head and arm chokes are a thing of their own.  There are so many popular head and arm chokes that you can go to from the arm in guillotine.  For example, the arm triangle, the Darce, the Anaconda, and the arm in north south are all very good and high percentage head and arm chokes.  These chokes have been used successfully in all forms of grappling.  Robert Drysdale actually submitted Marcelo Garcia in the open class finals of the ADCC with a darce.

So why did we bring up all of these other head and arm chokes when discussing the arm in guillotine?  Well, the biggest benefit of the arm in guillotine is the fact that you are able to transition to the darce, anaconda, or the arm triangle.  This is one of the best reasons to get comfortable with this position.  When you are in an arm in sometimes your opponent can have some breathing room so what is the best way to beat this, you want to switch to something like the darce or anaconda.  These are some of the best positions in the world, especially for MMA.  

The arm In is also a great way to control your opponent and pass, and you can use this choke from the top position and the bottom position.  This is an extraordinary benefit to versatile submissions.  You can use it from top half, bottom half, bottom closed guard, top mount, quarter guard, or knee on belly.   Let’s take a look at Neil Melanson showing us one of the most detailed breakdowns of the arm in guillotine. Neil Melanson is the head grappling coach of the blackzillians and he is one of the most accomplished grappling coaches in the world.  He actually has a background in catch wrestling but he has a way of breaking things down in an excellent manner.  Let’s take a look at it below.

High Elbow Guillotine

The high elbow guillotine was popularized by Marcelo Garcia.  Marcelo is considered by many the greatest grappler of all time given his success in multiple weight division, submission rate and overall style.  Marcelo has finished some of the best competitors in the world with high signature high elbow guillotine.  The high elbow guillotine was originally popularized for the ability to nullify the infamous Von Flue choke.

The von flue is a method of defense against the guillotine.  Basically if you have someone in a closed guard guillotine they will get on their toes and put their shoulder into your neck.  Many people who give up the guillotine don’t actually end up passing out or tapping to the von flue or the guillotine defense.  The high elbow was created so that instead of having your arm in you would put your elbow above their shoulder so that they could not defend the guillotine with shoulder pressure.  Let’s take a look at the high elbow below and see the mechanics.

So as you can see the elbow is above the shoulder and both arms are out.  This stops the shoulder pressure.  The high elbow is more aggressive then the arm in because you are committed to finishing the choke.  There are not many transitions from the high elbow like there is the arm in.  Although the high elbow will give you a better bite on the neck, you better finish it.  Like the arm in you can use the high elbow from bottom, and top.  You can use this guillotine from top half, top mount, top knee on belly, top quarter guard, and numerous top positions.  From bottom you can find success with it from bottom half, bottom closed, and other positions.  Check out this highlight of Marcelo doing the Guillotine on a bunch of people. 

The high elbow is an excellent choke to use in transition.  It is a choke worth getting good at.  So as you can see both the arm in and the high elbow are excellent chokes.  You can do a lot with both.  Ultimately it is up to you what you like to train, for instance you may like Kimura’s or Arm bars, it is the same with guillotines.  Maybe you like high elbows, maybe you like the arm in.  Both will bring you great success!

If you would like to learn great arm in chokes and guillotines from one of the best MMA coaches in the world, check out Neil Melanson’s DVD “The Catch Wrestling Formula”  This is an excellent resource for arm in chokes.