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Arm-In Guillotine With Neil Melanson

Arm-In Guillotine With Neil Melanson


Are you a head hunter? Do you seem to always find guillotine’s everywhere you look when you are in live training or competition?  If you are not seeing them, you are missing out, they are there, they are everywhere. There are so many options when it comes to guillotine choke submissions, one of which is arm in guillotine verses no arm guillotine.  

There was a time where you may have been told, or hear through the grape vine that you could not finish a guillotine with the arm in, you had to find a way to get the arm out and then you could finish the choke.  Like everything in Jiu Jitsu, or in life for that matter, it’s only impossible until someone does it.  

As our sport continues to evolve, we are forced to challenge the status quo and who better to look to than “the man who does everything different – yet all the big stars worship him”, Neil Melanson?  Neil is said to have one of the most effective and advanced games in Jiu Jitsu, noted as one of the most detailed, thorough and savage grappling coaches in the game today.  

If we must question the norm and look to evolve, then we should do so by looking at the best disrupters in the game.  Let’s take a look at the “Crazy Arm in Guillotine Finish” – by Neil Melanson.

The first tip Neil provides is in regards to maintaining your base.  Looking at the picture above, where Neal is looking to control his opponent’s bottom arm he notes that a common mistake is the attacker (person on top) will lean into their opponent, he cautions against this because you are essentially loading your weight on to them and giving them an opportunity to roll you over very easily.  Avoid leaning forward at this point. 

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Next Neil addresses how to keep the opponent from sitting up, as shown in the picture above.  Most people tend to simply grab the wrist with a c grip at you can see Neil going for in the picture above.  This grip is fine, however does not prevent the opponent from sitting up, and will require you to work very hard to maintain this grip.  Instead Neil would recommend using the same c grip, however inverting it so your thumb is on the top of the opponent’s wrist. This will allow you to then push the opponent’s arm to straighten it out as shown in the picture below.  This type of a grip and arm position uses the opponent’s human anatomy against them, because of the positioning of the arm there is only small muscles you are working against to keep this position, and because of the alignment of their joints, they are unable to sit up into you at this point making it very easy to control the opponent while still continuing to work your game. 

Neil also goes into breaking down the differences between a Whizzer and an Over hook.  A Whizzer is used for pressuring down, whereas an Over hook is used for pulling up. Important detail for the upcoming technique breakdown.  

Now that we got some of the fundamental details out of the way, we can take a look at the arm in guillotine.  Starting from top half guard Neil allows his opponent to get the under hook “good for him” he says in the video clip.  The moment the opponent gets the under hook Neil is looking to get a Whizzer on that under hooked arm. Contrary to what you may think, he does not want the Whizzer to be super high on the under hooked arm, rather just slightly above the elbow will do for this technique.  

After establishing his Whizzer, Neil then works to obtain the c grip on the opposite wrist, as we talked about earlier, pinning the opponent’s arm to the mat and working to push the arm upward locking the opponent to the mat and preventing them from being able to come back up towards him. 

Pushing the arm alone will likely not be strong enough to drive the opponent to the mat initially, while it will be enough to hold them there once you get them down, it likely isn’t enough to get them down in the first place.  To assist with driving the opponent to the mat, Neil uses his head by driving the top of his head into the chin of the opponent, jumping to his toes to create maximum pressure. At this point the position should look like what is shown below.

Neil uses this opportunity to knee slice through the opponent’s guard and brings his right knee immediately to the opponent’s right hip while still maintaining pressure on the opponent’s head. 

When he is ready, he will start to slowly take pressure off of the opponent allowing them to come towards him slightly.  As he is doing this he is tightening his Whizzer and removing his wrist control and replacing it with his left shin freeing up his left arm to attack the head.  

Wait, not just yet, but we are getting there. 

Neil now slides his right leg back in a kickstand fashion as he wraps his left arm around the opponent’s neck and starts to look for his grips to secure the guillotine. 

Neil notes that his Whizzer is gripping the opponent’s arm “as tight as I possibly can”.

To finish the guillotine choke, Neil locks his grip (more details on this next) and begins moving his right leg backwards.  As he is walking his right leg back, he is also pulling the opponent up to their knees and essentially onto him, allowing him to thro his right leg over the opponent’s back and finish the tap.  Done properly, as he shows in the video, the choke should be insanely tight the moment the leg is thrown over the opponent’s back. 

The grip will be what ultimately makes or breaks this technique for you, like in many cases.  The details matter, and will be all the difference when you are training or competing with a skilled opponent.  Neil’s recommendation on grip is simple and effective, in summary, do… not… give… them… space…

Neil likes to grab under the chin with his choking arm hand, positioning his thumb just slightly above the Adam’s apple (laryngeal prominence for all you smart people).  The second hand then comes in and covers the first hand. While this grip is ideal, it’s only half of the equation here. Next, you must close off the space by squeezing your elbows into your chest.  This setup will give you maximum control, as well as giving you the best possible chance at securing a quick tap, or nap for the opponent depending on the situation, I suppose. 

The final detail we need to look at is what to do with the legs, specifically.  Neil does not want to go to guard, as he feels there is an opportunity for the opponent to pass his guard and get into not only a safe position but a position from which he could start doing his own attacks.  Rather, Neil puts his bottom leg instep in the opponent’s opposite side hip leaving his shin across their waist like a belt and then throws his top leg over the opponent’s back. This prevents them from passing to one side, the only side that would be beneficial.  However, they may still bail out on the side that Neil is not blocking. If this happens, of course Neil has a plan for that…

To take a deeper dive into the guillotine submissions and positions from one of the best in the sport, check out “The Headhunter Guillotine Series” – by Neil Melanson.  Not only will you get answers to the question of what to do if they bail out on you as mentioned above, but you will see tons of variations of the guillotine choke submission from various positions.  Your opponent’s in the gym and in tournaments won’t have a chance once you lock in this knowledge. As the saying goes, knowledge is power… The knowledge of how to do a proper guillotine choke from any position is certainly powerful. 



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