Closed Guard Head and Arm Choke
The head and arm choke, also known as the kata gatami is a strangle submission used in grappling with great success. This is one of the more popular submissions MMA fighters look for when they establish top positions like mount, side control, and even top half guard because it is safe to attack in the sense that if the submission fails, the attacker remains in the top position, unlike an armbar.
Although the head and arm choke is most commonly used from the top positions I discussed above, this strangle can work from the guard, especially closed guard, if you have the right mechanical knowledge on how to lock it and finish it. The initial set up from the guard is quite simple as all the bottom player needs is an under hook and head control.
Learn the half guard from one of the top specialists in the game, Jake Mackenzie!
Head and arm control from the bottom guard is an essential skill all grapplers should learn because of its extensive benefits. The first part anyone benefits from is protection from strikes which is important for self defense and for mixed martial arts. The second part is that when you put someone in kata gatame from closed guard, it will cause them to make mistakes out of fear of being strangled.
Another cool trick from head and arm control in the closed guard is that if you can’t hit the choke, you can use it for sweeps and submissions. By angling the body in a specific way, the kata gatame will yield a scissor sweep or butterfly sweep that is hard to defend. Also, if you can slide your grip closer to their elbow, you can finish a basic straight armlock.
Jake Mackenzie is one of the best grapplers and teachers and hailed as one of the top competitors of his generation. His teaching is always very precise and detailed so that students maximize their benefits. In the following video, Jake shows us the best way to get the kata gatame from closed guard and how to finish it. See below:
The problem I always faced when trying this choke from the guard is that I could never get enough leverage to squeeze appropriately. What I realized after watching this video is that the placement of my hands was incorrect as I would leave my grip over the near side shoulder. Jake’s about moving the grip over to the other side helps get the squeeze directed exactly over the carotid arteries, which is what gets the tap.