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Defending the Guillotine from Turtle
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Defending the Guillotine from Turtle

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More often than not, we end up getting stuck in turtle while trying to defend guard passes or from a failed shot. Although some grapplers are good at attacking from turtle, especially leg attacks, the turtle is still primarily a defensive position we need to escape from.

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Knowing that turtle is a defensive position, we need to apply some of the same defensive principles we would use when defending from other positions. The most important defensive principle that every single grappler needs to master is keeping the elbows tight.

Keeping the elbows tight to our rib cage is essential for preventing under hooks, which can be used in a lot of ways, none good for the defender. Keeping the elbows tight isn’t the only principles and there are other elements we should add to protect ourselves from various attacks.

One of the most commonly attacked submissions against a turtle opponent is the guillotine choke. Other chokes can be attacked here too such as the anaconda and darce choke, all equally dangerous. Maintaining tight elbow position doesn’t really do much in helping prevent this chokes, so something else must be added.

In the following video, Priit Mihkelson will illustrate a very important principle for defending these chokes from turtle. See below:

One of the most common phrases in Jiu Jitsu is “protect your neck.” We usually associate this phrase with defending rear naked chokes. Realistically, though, it applies to every choke from every position, gi or no gi. If we can learn how to protect our neck the right way, we can prevent ourselves from getting stuck in these submissions.

Using the boxing shoulder, as Priit explains, is a great way of protecting one’s neck. If you don’t know why it’s called the boxing shoulder, watch a Floyd Mayweather fight and see how he uses his shoulder to defend punches to the head. Although the goal is different in Jiu Jitsu, a boxing shoulder minimize the space between our head and neck and makes choking very difficult.

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