Distinguishing the Guillotine, Darce, and Anaconda Chokes
Know The Ins and Outs Of These 3 Powerful Chokes!
As beautiful as Jiu Jitsu can be, it can also be confusing, especially for newer students. One reason Jiu Jitsu can be muddy at times is because it is difficult to understand submissions just by looking at them. A common style of questions students ask is what the difference is between one submission and another.
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Sometimes this question can be easy to answer but it can also be difficult, even for great instructors. In this article, I want to distinguish between guillotine, darce, and anaconda chokes as best as I can with examples. This is a question I get asked often so I thought it would be a good idea to articulate it for the entire community.
Darce Choke vs Anaconda Choke
The Darce and Anaconda chokes are intricate grappling submissions often celebrated in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and mixed martial arts. These two techniques, although distinct, share similarities in their application, making them sometimes difficult to differentiate for the uninitiated. The Darce choke is typically initiated when the aggressor is on top or beside their opponent. It involves threading the arm under the opponent's armpit and locking the hands around the neck, applying pressure to elicit a tap.
Conversely, the Anaconda choke generally originates when the practitioner is in front of their adversary. It starts with an arm drag, leading to the wrapping of the opponent’s neck and arm, followed by rolling to tighten the grip and increase pressure. Each choke has its unique intricacies and scenarios where it proves most effective.
Difference between Darce and Anaconda Choke
While both the Darce and Anaconda chokes are executed by constricting the opponent’s neck and arm, their initiation and application differ markedly. The positioning of the practitioner’s arms and the roll, if applied, are tell-tale signs of which choke is being executed. The Darce choke sees the practitioner's top arm threading through the opponent’s armpit, while in the Anaconda, the grip is initiated over the arm and under the neck. Recognizing these nuances can be crucial in both applying and defending against these potent submission techniques.
Anaconda Choke vs Darce vs Guillotine
Including the Guillotine into the mix, distinctions become even clearer yet hold their complexity. The Guillotine is another potent choke but is often initiated from a front headlock position, with the practitioner trapping the opponent's head under their arm and applying upward pressure on the neck. Each of these chokes - Anaconda, Darce, and Guillotine - holds its distinct setup, grip, and application. Mastering the intricacies of each can significantly broaden a practitioner’s arsenal, offering varied options to secure a submission victory depending on the evolving dynamics of the combat situation.
Before jumping into each submission, I want to discuss the characteristics these choke all share in common. These chokes all require the attacker to use both their arms to wrap the defenders head and arm. The standard guillotine, though, as opposed to the arm-in guillotine, only requires wrapping the head and not the arm. These chokes work by limiting to blood flow to the brain by constricting the cerebral arteries. Finally, these chokes are all considered “front” chokes instead of rear, like the rear naked choke.
The first submission I want to discuss, which can be considered the parent submission of these chokes is the guillotine. The guillotine, aka the front naked choke, is a technique taught at white belt and is a necessary skill for self-defense. In fact, this choke is taught in the US Army combatives manual.
The guillotine is split into two main styles, the arm-in guillotine and the regular guillotine. The first involves the attacker wrapping the defenders head with one arm till that arm gets under the chin. The attacker’s second arm will come in and grab their other wrist as a support arm. There are numerous ways for the arms to grip but the standard is simply wrapping over the front of the wrist. The following video by Lachlan Giles shows how to set up a modified version of the guillotine using a 10-finger grip.
Another guillotine I like a lot due to its great effectiveness is the high-elbow guillotine. This guillotine is very similar to the classic guillotine except the wrapping arm shoots deeper and the support arm extends over the back of the defender. The following video by Mike Palladino shows a good example of this technique.
The arm-in guillotine is very similar to the standard guillotine, so often in fact, that new students will not realize the difference, which is that an arm is now trapped with the head. I will admit that this guillotine is much more difficult to finish than the regular guillotine and many grapplers don’t figure it out for years.
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What the arm-in guillotine provides as opposed to the regular guillotine is a lot of control over the defender. For example, if someone shoots a double leg takedown against me and I get a head and arm trapped, it is easy to snap them down and take their back. Also, if I have gotten the arm-in guillotine in the guard, it is easy to butterfly sweep them over and transition to mount. In the next video, Neil Melanson shows a good way of finishing this submission.
One tip I learned from Garry Tonon and Gordon Ryan at a seminar is that the best way to grip the arm-in guillotine is that the neck wrapping arm should go as deep as it would if you were attacking a high-elbow guillotine. This small tip improved my arm-in guillotine finishing rate tremendously.
The next submission I want to get into is the darce choke. I will admit that I am not a huge fan of the choke even though I know it is effective for some people. What I’ve come around to learn is that grapplers will align themselves with either the guillotine, darce, or anaconda. It is best practice, however, to become skilled at all three.
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At first glance, the guillotine looks a lot like an arm-in guillotine, but if you tried setting it up the same way you set up an arm-in guillotine, it probably won’t work. The fundamental difference the darce entails is that the wrapping (choking) arm goes under the armpit first and then wraps over the neck. The second arm will go over the defender’s back for support.
The darce choke allows for the ability to apply a huge amount of pressure against the defender’s neck using their own shoulder. The darce choke can be set up from many places but is most commonly attacked from half guard or side control when the defender tries to get an under hook. The following video by Mario Delgado shows how to set up the darce choke after a knee slice pass.
A problem with the darce choke, or at least due to the person attacking it, is that it can often become a neck crank instead of a choke. Now, I have no problem with neck cranks granted the defender taps. Unfortunately, many grapplers will fight through the pain of the crank while the attacker wears their arms out.
As opposed to the guillotine, there is no way to set up a darce choke without a trapped arm. One tip I have that has helped me the few times I’ve attacked the darce choke is to not only focus on squeezing the choke but also adding rotation. This allows for better constriction of the cerebral arteries and therefore a faster tap.
Finally, my favorite choke of them all, the anaconda choke. This elusive submission has been used successfully in high level grappling by only a few people. If one gets good at this submission, however, they can dominate their teammates and the competitive scene as well.
The anaconda choke looks a lot like the darce choke. Many newer students and even blue belts ask me what the difference between the darce choke and anaconda choke is. The fundamental difference is that the wrapping arm goes under the neck and all the way through under the armpit and is locked up with a rear-naked choke grip just like the darce is. To me, the anaconda seems a lot more like an arm-in guillotine than a darce choke. I usually attack the anaconda choke in a lot of the same ways set up guillotines as well.
The main issue people have with the anaconda choke is with the finishing position and the finishing squeeze. In order to finish the choke, the defender has to be on their side while the attacker is also on their side, parallel, but above the defender, which is kind of weird.
Another problem people have with the anaconda choke is that the defender can open the elbow their trapped arm rather easily and make the choke obsolete. Knowing how to keep the elbow tight and locked up is vital if one wants to get good at this submission. Keeping the elbow tight is best done by bring the legs over the elbow the way Rafael Mendes does. In my experience, this is both effective at preventing defense but can also increase the pressure of the choke.
The guillotine, darce, and anaconda chokes are all great chokes that although are similar in many ways, have fundamental differences that need to be thoroughly understood. I previously mentioned many grapplers lean towards of those submissions in their game. I would recommend however that everyone gets good at the guillotine and either the darce or anaconda if not both. The reason for this is that the guillotine is quite a simple submission, but its defenses often lead to transitions to the anaconda or darce.
These three submissions can be confusing at times, but proper understanding of the techniques and enough repetitions can reinforce one’s understanding of their differences, how to set them up, and how to finish them. I hope this article helps!
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