EZEKIEL CHOKE BJJ
Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become a dominant force in the world of combat sports. The modern era of grappling has seen the No Gi discipline rise to extraordinary new heights, with the innovation of the leg lock game, and the rise of super fights within the professional circuit of competitive grappling. Even though the new age grappler might be throwing away the Gi in search of the new trends, there is more evidence that suggests that traditional Gi fighting is the pinnacle of the sport. The Gracie clan started training in the Gi, and were extremely well versed in techniques that utilised gripping of the Gi fabric.
What this article covers:
- What Is an Ezekiel Choke
- The History of The Ezekiel Choke
- When Is the Best Time to Apply the Ezekiel Choke
- Ezekiel Variations
- How to Defend the Ezekiel Choke
Nowadays there are still a massive percentage of grapplers that know how important it is to train wearing the Gi. Gi Jiu Jitsu has an extensive amount of techniques that can be applied. From the more simplistic gripping an opponent's legs, and passing the guard, to the more intricate stylings of the bow and arrow jiu jitsu choke.
Gi Jiu Jitsu is extremely important in the development of all BJJ athletes, and skipping this crucial component can be detrimental to the viability of an athlete's BJJ game style. Training in Gi Jiu Jitsu can be quite stifling, as the Gi uniforms act as straight jackets, when an athlete knows how to use the grips to restrain their opponent. There are multiple ways to attack from every position, and the art has an extensive range of different jiu jitsu chokes from the cross collar, the loop choke, the ezekiel choke and many more that make Gi Jiu Jitsu the number one combat form of any ground fighting.
WHAT IS AN EZEKIEL CHOKE
In Brazilian Jiu Jitsu the choke is considered to be the most valuable submission in the arsenal. There are many different chokes that can be used like the rear naked choke, the triangle choke, and the bjj darce choke, which are all formidable ways to finish an opponent. The act of choking an opponent seems brutish, but the technical application, and the intricacies involved are exceptional. There are two main ways to choke an opponent's neck, and they are restricting the air flow by pressuring the trachea, and cutting off the blood flow from the heart to the brain by impeding the carotid arteries. There is a third way, and this is by applying force to the vertebrae in the neck, but this is a dangerous act, and is labeled a neck crank, and is not considered a choke.
The ezekiel is one of the main Gi chokes taught to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners, and can be extremely debilitating. The ezekiel choke can be applied from a range of different positions, but the downside is an athlete needs to give up one of their posts in order to secure the choke, which can give their opponent an opportunity to sweep. To secure an ezekiel choke the athlete will put one of their arms around the back of their opponent's neck, securing their own sleeve with a four fingers in, and one thumb out grip. The athlete will then transition the blade of their wrist to in front of their opponent's neck, forming a nice tight stranglehold. This can be an extremely brutal choke, as not only can it surprise an opponent, but it is a choke that an athlete can set up quickly, and finish quickly.
THE HISTORY OF THE EZEKIEL CHOKE
The ezekiel choke dates back long before Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was created, and was a common part of the Japanese culture of Martial Arts. Before Judo was even called Judo, it was an earlier form of Japanese Jiu Jitsu, where practitioners of the art would train in how to execute choke holds. As the old Japanese form became Judo the ezekiel was a common choke, and was better known as the Sode Guruma Jime. The evolution from Judo to BJJ came when the Brazilian Judoka Ezequiel Paraguassu spent time perfecting his ground game at Carlson Gracie’s school in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. Ezequiel was training for the 1988 Olympic Games in South Korea, and thought that Carlson Gracie's academy would have the tools he needed to sharpen his game.
It was here that he struggled to escape from the guard position, as Carlson Gracie’s students were extremely impressive, and experienced. So he began to execute the Sode Guruma Jime from inside the guard, and found that he was submitting all of his training partners. The students at Carlson Gracie’s academy were beginning to see some golden opportunities at the hands of Ezequiel, as they began to question his submission hold. Ezequiel would then start teaching the choke to Carlson Gracie’s members, and after a short while they began to refer to the choke as the Ezequiel choke. Over time the choke began to lose its translation, as the western influence resulted in the choke's reference as the ezekiel choke. This choke became extremely popular throughout competitive Jiu Jitsu, as many high level athletes like Roger Gracie, and Andre Galvao, became synonymous with the submission.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO APPLY THE EZEKIEL CHOKE
Knowing when to set up any choke in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is the key to all successful submission finishes. Timing is essential, and athletes need to be unpredictable in how they set up their submission holds. The best part about an ezekiel choke is that it is much like a bjj guillotine choke, in the sense that both of these submissions can be snapped on in the blink of an eye. Surprising an opponent can be vital to the success rate of any choke hold in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. The ezekiel choke is one that can be set up unassumingly, as the athlete can place their first hand in position, and use their other hand to distract their opponent for long enough so they can quickly shoot in, and rip on the Gi choke. This choke can be done from guard, side control, back control, the turtle position, and the mount. The problem with doing this choke from the mount, or other topside control positions is that an athlete must commit one of their posts behind the head of their opponent, and this can give an opportunity for them to sweep the athlete in that direction. The best time to set up an ezekiel choke is from the guard position, because the athlete can use their guard to trap their opponent, making it extremely hard to escape from the choke.
Learning how to use the ezekiel choke has become a go to submission for many students of the art. The most traditional way to go for the ezekiel is from either guard, or the mount position, but there are other variations of this choke that make this an extremely versatile submission. Utilising an ezekiel choke from back control can be a great way to negate the defenses of most athletes in this position, as sometimes securing a rear naked choke under the chin of an opponent, can be quite challenging. Setting up an ezekiel can be a great solution, as the choke does not have to go under the chin for it to be effective. Athletes can begin pummelling for a choke, as they sneakily grab their wrist, and pull back hard into their opponent's neck region, before transitioning their hand behind the neck of their opponent. Even if an opponent's hands are in the way, the sheer strength of the ezekiel choke can make defending it an extremely hard prospect.
Another great variation of the ezekiel choke is when an athlete sets up the transition from the turtle position. The set up for this choke is rather easy, and all an athlete needs to do is use their arm that is closest to their opponent's head to reach under their armpit, extending to the outside of their neck. Once they have secured their arm in place, they will grab the sleeve of their other arm, before transitioning their hand around the back of their opponent's neck. From this position there are two ways to finish this choke, the first is when the athlete shoots their shin close to their opponent's hip, and moves back into the seated position, before extending their arms into the ezekiel. The second version involves the athlete to roll over their own shoulder after securing the hold, which is a more dynamic movement, but can result in a tighter choke, forcing an opponent to submit quicker.
There are other ways to execute an ezekiel choke like when an athlete is in the north south choke bjj position. This can be more of a low percentage attempt at an ezekiel choke, but sometimes it is the movements that an opponent expects the least, that will often be the most successful. When going for a north south choke, sometimes the opponent can find too much space between the neck, and the mat, which will allow them to breathe easier, and put less pressure into the choke. Because the athlete's arm is already around the head in an upside down guillotine position, all the athlete needs to do is catch the sleeve of the opposite hand, and slot their wrist into the trachea. This can be quite a brutal choke from this position, and is one that most athletes will not see coming. To be successful with the ezekiel choke it is all about surprise attack, as a choke that is telegraphed will be easily defended.
Applying an ezekiel choke to an opponent doesn't just work wearing the Gi, as it can also be done in the No Gi division. Finding an ezekiel choke in a No Gi match just takes a little more ingenuity, and dedication from the athlete. The positions are the same whether they are in mount, guard, side control, or back control, this choke can be applied. There is no real difference in how the locking mechanism is engineered, as all of the positioning is the same. The only real difference is that due to the No Gi division, not having a Gi means there is a modification in where the athlete would normally grab a sleeve before transitioning. In the No Gi ezekiel choke, the athlete will hook onto their own bicep, before transitioning their wrist in front of their opponent’s neck. The trick to making this work is to alleviate any gap between the locking mechanism, and the opponent's neck. Once the choke is locked in they just have to use their muscle power to squeeze out their opponent, and achieve the tap.
HOW TO DEFEND THE EZEKIEL CHOKE
There are different ways to defend the ezekiel choke with one of the most popular defenses coming from the mounted ezekiel. As an opponent secures a deep ezekiel lock, the athlete only has a few seconds until they are going to tap, so they need to act quick. The first thing they want to do is bump their opponent's weight forward, and at the same time shoot their arm up through the gap of the arm that is in front of their neck. This may be hard to squeeze their arm through the gap, so the athlete needs to bridge at the same time to create enough space to slot through. The next step is to walk all their weight onto the elbow of their arm that has squeezed through the gap, turning over onto their side, and making it easy for them to bridge again, and roll their opponent over into guard. This is one of the most basic ways to defend the ezekiel choke, and athletes will find that it can be highly successful on the mats.
With any ezekiel choke attempt an athlete does not want to get their neck wrapped at all, but once an opponent does manage to wrap around the head, an athlete's next defense is stopping the second arm from coming into play. This is how an athlete can be counter intuitive to a choke like the ezekiel, but this does not always go to plan. What they can do to defend this position is once the first arm wraps around their neck they can sneak their hand in, pushing their hand against the other side of their neck with their palm facing out. Once the second arm comes in to apply the choke, the athlete catches the wrist with his hand that is waiting by his neck. The athlete quickly uses their other arm to trap over the top of their opponent's elbow, which will stop them from straightening their arm. From this point the athlete then bridges, and pushes all of their weight down into the wrist of their opponent, forcing them to tap from a wrist lock. This is a very sneaky defense, and actually works extremely well against all competitors. The best part about this type of defense is an athlete that is setting up a choke is not expecting to get wrist locked, and this is why it can be extremely successful.
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