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Develop Your Guillotine Choke

Develop Your Guillotine Choke


The guillotine choke is one of the highest percentage chokes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, MMA, and No Gi grappling. This choke has been used for hundreds of years, granted there are different variations of this positions such as the arm in guillotine, the high elbow guillotine choke, the 10 finger guillotine choke, the one handed guillotine choke and the list goes on and on.  This is one of the most valuable submissions in grappling for so many reasons.

People tend to perceive the guillotine choke as a submission, but the guillotine is far more.  This position is extremely efficient and we call it a position because you can use the head and arm control or head control of a guillotine to pass guard, to defend, to sweep, to transition to other submissions, or to submit.  The guillotine is also excellent because you are able to use it for self-defense, MMA, no gi, and in the gi. 

Let’s look at some grapplers who have been notorious for having a good guillotine; we have Marcelo Garcia, Kron Gracie, and Jeff Glover.  All of them have been excellent grapplers who transition well from both gi to no gi and a lot of this can be contributed to the fact that they have excellent guillotines.  Let’s discuss some of the possibilities that you can add to your arsenal when developing your guillotine choke.

The Guillotine as a Submission

The guillotine as a submission is tried and true.  We have seen high level UFC fighters, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighters, and No Gi specialist use the guillotine with tremendous success.  There are so many variations of this choke so which is the most superior?  Well the thing is that not one guillotine is any better than the other; it is up to the person who is doing the move to determine what variation works best for them.

For example, the high elbow guillotine has recently exploded with popularity and Marcelo Garcia was able to execute this move at the highest levels of competition countless times.  Some people have even called this position the “Marcelotine.”  Does this mean that this is a better guillotine then the arm in?  Not at all, Renzo Gracie was the first big Jiu Jitsu practitioner to utilize the arm in guillotine in both MMA and Jiu Jitsu and he has one of the best arm in guillotines in the world, this is just the variation that works for him.  Kron Gracie is also famous for using the arm in guillotine and he has had great success with this position, he even won the finals of the most prestigious no gi tournament, ADCC with this choke.

There are other variations of the guillotine that are not as popular but again that does not mean they are not effective.  Some other versions we see are the 10 finger guillotine, the 5 finger guillotine, and many more.  Neil Melanson is the head grappling coach of the famous MMA team Blackzillians, he has worked with famous UFC fighter like Randy Couture, Vitor Belfort and Dominick Cruz.  He has a very different perspective on the guillotine, check out one of his unique chokes below.

Using the Guillotine as a Position

The guillotine is obviously a choke, we know this, but what about the amazing control you have when you wrap the neck?  The guillotine can very easily be an incredible position for control, sweeping, countering, and passing the guard.  Head and arm control is a very popular position in Greco Roman Wrestling and it is used to pin opponent’s and to set up many takedowns.  When you are able to wrap the head and get a good squeeze you have so much control over your opponent.  One of the best sweeps from half guard or butterfly is to threaten a guillotine and use a butterfly hook to sweep your opponent and mount them.

Threatening the guillotine and using it as a position is excellent because many people do not like to have their head wrapped and when you have the control your opponent will address the choke and be much easier to sweep.  The same philosophy can be implemented from the top position.  You can wrap the head from top and many people will not be able to have as good of a guard.  They will address the choke and you will be able to pass their guard much easier.

Many people have used this as a defensive tactic in MMA, No Gi, and gi.  Once you are able to solidify head control from almost any position you can normally make something out of it. Check out this pass below with 2x ADCC champion and IBJJF No Gi Black Belt Open Weight champion, Yuri Simoes.  He threatens a guillotine and ultimately ends up in a popular wrestling position, The Cradle.  He uses this position to pass the guard.

The Guillotine to Set Up Other Submissions

Using the guillotine to set up other positions is one of the best ways to utilize the position.  We discussed different variations of the guillotine above such as the high elbow and the arm in, when you are using this to threaten other submissions, the arm in is the best choice.

If you are competing in MMA, the arm in guillotine is one of the best things to learn, this is because if it does not work you will maintain control over your opponent, you will be safe, and you can transition to other head and arm chokes.  Head and arm chokes are a thing of their own.  There are so many popular head and arm chokes that you can go to from the arm in guillotine.  For example, the arm triangle, the Darce, the Anaconda, and the arm in north south are all very good and high percentage head and arm chokes.  These chokes have been used successfully in all forms of grappling.  Robert Drysdale actually submitted Marcelo Garcia in the open class finals of the ADCC with a darce.

So why did we bring up all of these other head and arm chokes when discussing the arm in guillotine?  Well, the biggest benefit of the arm in guillotine is the fact that you are able to transition to the darce, anaconda, or the arm triangle.  This is one of the best reasons to get comfortable with this position.  When you are in an arm in sometimes your opponent can have some breathing room so what is the best way to beat this, you want to switch to something like the darce or anaconda.  These are some of the best positions in the world, especially for MMA. 

If you want to take you knowledge on the guillotine to the next level, Blackzillians head coach and grappling start, Neil Melanson just released a new DVD series, “The Headhunter Guillotine.”  Neil is not your average grappler, he has a background in catch wrestling but he is able to adapt bjj and other grappling techniques.  He is one of the BEST instructors in the world and people praise him. Check out his work below!


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