Arm triangle choke, side choke, or head and arm choke are generic terms describing blood chokeholds in which the opponent is strangled in between their own shoulder and the practitioner's arm. This is as opposed to the regular triangle choke, which denotes a chokehold using the legs, albeit with a similar mechanism of strangulation against the opponent's own shoulder. An arm triangle choke where the practitioner is on the side of the opponent and presses a forearm into the opposite side of the neck of the opponent is known as a side choke, such as from the kata-gatame hold.
Like stated above, the head and arm choke is a very powerful blood choke/ submission that can be introduced early in a student's Brazilian JiuJitsu training because of the relative simplicity of it's fundamental details and continues to pay dividends at all levels of progress due to the variety of angles and positions from which to secure the position and the small refinements that can be added along the way.
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As a student is taught the "top game," most believe the top mount to be the most dominant positions in Brazilian JiuJitsu. However, one could make an argument for side control over mount, because in side control, one has the ability to deliver more pressure on the bottom player, as well as having the ability to create an angle with their lower body that acts as a "post" when the bottom player tries to push the top player away or off top position. In side control, creating the head and arm choke can be applied very effectively. In addition, the head and arm choke can build a bridge back to the mount and help to develop the confidence of the student who wants to start building their mount attack arsenal.
The following details on the head and arm triangle are guaranteed to improve your ability to strangle your opponents.
Roll the elbows to further tighten the Head and Arm Choke
Once your arm wraps around the opponent's head and neck, the goal is to reach for the bicep on the opposite arm (closest to their trapped arm). Then by shifting the weight back and forth on your elbows and reaching further up your tricep each time, more and more slack can be removed, making the strangle a foregone conclusion.
Dismount and keep hips low during the finish of the Head and Arm Choke
Once the head, neck, and arm are held as tight as possible, it is now time to dismount and put your hips flat to the mat next to your opponent's hips. Then by moving your hips away from their hips, as if you were moving to a North/South position. This movement tightens the strangle by creating an angle that will force the opponent to make a choice to either "tap or nap."
A great recent example of a head and arm choke was demonstrated by one of the most highly decorated Brazilian Jiu Jitsu artists of all time, Roger Gracie, in his One FC MMA match against Michal Pasternak. Watch how with textbook precision, Roger locks in the choke and secures his opponent's fate in a matter of seconds.
As seen in this short clip, the head and arm choke is easy to learn and can end a street fight, mixed martial arts fight, or Brazilian JiuJitsu match in a few seconds if the practitioner uses the correct technique, timing and angle.
Once the mechanics of the kata gatame, or head and arm choke begin to settle into muscle memory, a student will begin to see all of the different places from which they can land this powerful and effective strangle.
Learning its set up from side control might be the first place we learn to attack this choke, but with some practice, one can begin to apply it from the mount, closed guard, or even standing, to name just a few positional variations.
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