BJJ ARM TRIANGLE
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is a formidable combat sport that incorporates elements of high impact, transitional components, positional control, and submission maneuvers. The submission game in BJJ is quite extensive, as athletes of all shapes and sizes can execute these movements with precision.
What this article covers:
- What Is an Arm Triangle
- The Head and Arm Game
- Set Ups for the Arm Triangle
- Relatives to the Arm Triangle
- How to Defend the Arm Triangle
There are three main facets of submission moves, the leg lock, the arm lock, and the choke hold, with the latter being the most brutal of all. On the streets a fight can continue with a broken arm, or a broken leg, but a broken neck equals death, and this is why the choke hold is the king of all submissions.
There are many formidable submission maneuvers like the heel hook, the rear naked choke, the arm bar, and the bjj triangle choke. Many of these submissions have different variations like heel hook has an inside and outside version, the armbar has multiple ways to take the arm, choking from the back has the military, the rear naked, and many Gi chokes, and the triangle has one from guard, mount, and even an arm triangle. Setting up choke holds with an arm triangle can be highly effective, and even this submission has multiple ways to enter, and finish an opponent, including from the mount, the side control, and the guard position.
WHAT IS AN ARM TRIANGLE
The arm triangle is also known as the head and arm triangle choke, or the side choke. This is a brutal submission hold that can put an opponent to sleep extremely quickly. The mechanics of this choke involve an athlete to trap an opponent's head and arm in a triangle that an athlete creates with their arms, and their head. The athlete will use their arm wrapped around their opponent's neck, as their head traps the back of their tricep. The athlete will then face belly down to the mat, as they connect their hands together in an s-grip, and apply pressure to the neck in a downwards motion. There are many different ways to finish the choke, and every single variation can be highly effective. It is important not to fight an opponent's frames, meaning if the choke is directed into an opponent's neck and shoulder frame, it can be hard to get the tap. Instead athletes should bypass the frame by moving in a more diagonal direction into the mat, as this will force the choke to come on quicker, and easier.
THE HEAD AND ARM GAME
There are many different parts of the game in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that can be highly effective. The head and arm game is one of the most formidable concepts, which involves a series of different controls, and submissions. Controlling the head in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is crucial, because where the head goes the body follows. This means that if an athlete can direct their opponent's head into one direction, they will be forced to move that way. This is why athletes use neck ties, and chin straps, as a way of controlling their opponents posture. There are different submission holds that can be utilised within the head and arm game like the guillotine choke, the anaconda choke, the darce choke, and the head and arm triangle.
When an opponent begins to pass the guard they will often look for under hooks, and head pressure, as a way of controlling and moving past their opponents guard. Although using head pressure can be extremely effective against a grounded opponent, it can also be detrimental if the athlete is well versed in the head and arm game. All it takes is an opponent to use their head into the sternum, which can give the athlete an opportunity to wrap a control around their neck. This can be extremely dangerous for opponents, as an athlete that has a good head and arm control can squeeze on guillotine chokes, darce chokes, or set up head and arm triangles quickly, and effectively.
SET UPS FOR THE ARM TRIANGLE
One of the most common setups for the head and arm triangle choke is from the mount position. This setup requires an athlete to work their way into a high mount, after securing a grip underneath the elbow of their opponent. Scooping a hand underneath the elbow, and walking their arm up towards their head is important for a good set up into the head and arm choke. Once the athlete has their opponent in a compromised position with their arm up near their head, they will use their other hand to wrap around the neck, as they slide their own head behind the tricep, trapping the arm in place. From here they can link their hands together in an s-grip, as they jump out of the full mount, and into a side control position with their body facing down towards the mat. It is important to keep the arm trapped behind the head, and leave no space in between the crook of their elbow, and the neck of their opponent. Another good tip is to choke the opponent on a diagonal trajectory towards the mat, as opposed to fighting through their frame.
Another set up comes from the side control position, where the athlete will effectively set up the gift wrap. This position involves getting an opponent onto their side, and feeding their top arm around their throat, and securing the wrist from underneath the cross face. From here the athlete will shoot their arm underneath the elbow, but instead of going for a kimura grip, they will wrap their arm straight around the neck of their opponent. Once again, they can link their hands together in an s-grip, turning face down towards the mat, as they trap the back of the tricep with their head. This is an effective method in securing the head and arm triangle, and one that has a high success rate, and a limited amount of countermeasures.
Another set up for the head and arm triangle can come from the guard position. This can start with a simple arm drag, or a wrist grip, before an athlete throws the arm over their shoulder ducking into what is similar to the duck under position in wrestling. From here the athlete will shoot their arm around the neck of their opponent, as they link their hands together. What is good about this choke from the guard position, is once they have linked their hands together the athlete can turn towards a side on position, where they can effectively turn this choke into a rear naked variation of the head and arm triangle. To make matters worse they can also slip in a butterfly hook, and use that to sweep their opponent onto their back, where they can move into the traditional head and arm triangle position from side control.
Another good set up can come from the kesa gatame position, or otherwise known as the scarf hold. This is a position where the athlete will switch their hips into a position where they are seated with their knees facing the head of their opponent, while keeping both arms trapped. To transition into the head and arm triangle is relatively simple, as all the athlete has to do is lose their far side under hook, and thread their arm straight around the neck of their opponent. This is a position where the athlete can attempt americanas, or straight arm locks with their legs, and with a simple switch of the hips, and a push of the tricep they can turn back down towards the mat, as they link their hands together into the head and arm triangle position.
Another set up into the head and arm triangle is called the reverse arm triangle. This position is a little bit different to the traditional head and arm choke, as it is done from the north south position. This choke is different to the north south choke, as that involves an arm wrapped around just the head. A good way to set up the reverse arm triangle is from the side control position, as the athlete will force their opponent onto their side. From here they will remove their cross face, and shoot it underneath the armpit threading it around the other side of their neck in the reverse position. As the arm comes through the bottom of their opponent's neck, they will sprawl their legs out into a north south position, and apply pressure to the neck, as they move their body backwards. This can be an extremely brutal choke, where the athlete can apply an extensive amount of pressure.
RELATIVES TO THE ARM TRIANGLE
There are a few different choke holds that are considered relatives to the head and arm triangle choke. One of the most esteemed, and brutal choke holds is the darce choke. This choke was made famous by Joe D'arce, and has further been modernised by Jeff Glover, and the Ruotulo brothers. This choke is an arm triangle around the neck and the arm, but from a different position. To secure the darce choke an athlete will use their near side arm to thread underneath the armpit of their opponent, sliding in behind the back of their neck. As they expose their wrist, their other arm will slide over the top of their opponent's head, securing an elbow grip around the wrist. A key factor is for an athlete to trap the tricep of their opponent with their chest, as they squeeze tight around the neck. This position is extremely hard to defend, and has a large number of entries, which can happen from all control positions.
Another choke that uses an arm triangle is the anaconda choke. This is another effective choke hold that goes hand in hand with the guillotine, and the darce choke. This choke will usually happen when an athlete defends their opponent's double leg takedown. When the opponent shoots in for the takedown, the athlete will sprawl out landing over the top of their opponent, into a front headlock position. The athlete will shoot one arm around the neck, linking up with their other hand from underneath the armpit, into a gable grip. It is important to shoot the arm around the neck deeper, and then use the gable grip to fold in the arm of their opponent. This will allow the athlete to then lock up the arm triangle, and roll towards the arm into what is known as a gator roll. As the athlete rolls their opponent onto their back, they will then walk their legs in towards their stomach, trapping their opponents head into their sternum, as they apply pressure into the anaconda choke. This is an extremely effective submission that is extremely hard to defend once an opponent is caught in deep.
The arm in guillotine is similar to an arm triangle, and although it is technically not an arm triangle, because the arm is not placed against the throat, it is still a part of the head and arm game. Setting up a guillotine choke is one of the most brutal submissions in the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu arsenal, and they can be used as a good way of baiting an opponent into the anaconda, or the darce choke systems. The arm in guillotine involves securing the arm, and a wrap around the head, while connecting up into a seat belt grip, or a cuff grip. From here the athlete will move into a closed guard, or a position like one butterfly hook with one leg wrapped around the back. From here they will pull upwards with their grip into the trachea, as they trap the back of the head with their chest. This choke can also be utilised from a standing position, or a sprawl position with an athlete on their knees. The versatility of the guillotine choke is extremely beneficial to an athlete that likes to attack with the head and arm game.
HOW TO DEFEND THE ARM TRIANGLE
There are several ways to defend the head and arm triangle choke, and like most brutal submissions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, they involve early defense measures, and last ditch efforts to escape from these positions. An early defense is extremely important in escaping from most chokes in BJJ. This means as soon as the opponent isolates the head and arm with their grip, the athlete must connect their hands together in a gable grip, and use their elbow as a frame into the neck. This frame can be used to push the neck, and create space between the athlete's shoulder, and their carotid artery, which can be a good method of escaping from the choke. Once they have created enough space they can attack the arm that is wrapped around the neck, by turning their body which will alleviate pressure from the neck, and allow them to move out of a dangerous position.
Another early defense method can be for an athlete to transition quickly when their opponent attacks the head and arm triangle. Waiting for an opponent to link their hands together can be detrimental to the athlete, as commonly they are going to get choked out. The beauty of a head and arm triangle from the opponent, means that the athlete has an opportunity for a deep under hook. This means that as soon as the opponent wraps their arm around their neck, the athlete should turn onto their side and look at escaping their head underneath the armpit for an easy back take. If this position is timed fast enough it can be extremely advantageous for an athlete on the counter attack.
If an athlete is caught deep in this choke, they must use the same technique by applying an elbow frame into the neck, and look at trying to alleviate some of the pressure. Once they have some space between their shoulder, and their neck they can look to straighten their arm against their opponent's neck. Now they can circle their arm high, and slip it around the other side of their opponent's neck. This can effectively create a position where the athlete can reverse the situation, and use the momentum and the leverage to roll their opponent over, landing in a head and arm triangle on them. If the athlete does not have enough momentum to shift their opponent's weight, they still can slot into a head and arm choke from underneath, and although this may not be a high percentage solution, at least they are out of danger, and can look at escaping their arm, and possibly climbing into a better control position.
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