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Fine-Tuning the Basics: Rear Naked Choke
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Fine-Tuning the Basics: Rear Naked Choke

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Ah, the Rear Naked Choke…even among people who don’t train, it’s probably the best-known attack in the Jiu Jitero’s arsenal. 

Much of this fame is probably due to its frequent use as a finish in UFC fights.

But just because everyone recognizes it, that doesn’t mean everyone knows how to do it.  And, even among those who can finish a rear naked choke, there’s always room for improvement and fine-tuning.

Lachlan Giles, in fact, believes that—when we attempt this choke—most of us are focusing on the wrong things.

In the video below, Giles begins his tutorial on the Rear Naked Choke by dispelling the common misconceptions that keep many BJJ players from being more successful with this technique.

Finishing the Choke

First on the list, Giles begins by admitting that, when he learned this choke, he initially thought his goal should be to constrict one carotid with his bicep and the other with his forearm while he pushed his opponent’s head forward with his other arm.

Giles points out that this is not the strongest attack.  Plus, when you start to push your opponent’s head forward, that gives them a chance to reach back and pull your arm forward and off of the back of their head.

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Giles insists that, if we are doing the choke correctly, we should be able to finish it with one arm.  To do this, we want to reach around, grab their shoulder, and then apply pressure by pulling our elbow back in the direction of our shoulder.  

If we can get the tap with one arm, we know that we are applying pressure correctly.  And this makes the pressure even more painful when we add our second arm.

In the image below, Giles has added his second arm, but he is not simply pulling straight back on his opponent’s neck or pushing straight forward with his second arm.  Instead, he is using the same side-pull that he used when he used only one hand.

Once Giles dispels these myths about how the Rear Naked Choke actually works, he begins to show the set-up for this choke.

Setting Up the Choke

Starting from a seatbelt grip, Giles encourages his students to begin with their hands as close as possible to their opponent’s neck.  

If you begin with your arms down around your opponent’s sternum or stomach, it increases the distance your hands have to travel to accomplish the choke.  Plus, if your hands are lower on your opponent’s body, they are easier for your opponent to grab as he defends himself.

Giles advises us to make sure the elbow of our choking arm is on or in front of our victim’s shoulder.  Giles also braces his head against his opponent’s head to keep his head immobilized.

With his hands close to his opponent’s neck and his head controlling his opponent’s head, Giles releases his seatbelt grip on his choking arm.  He then wedges his hand below his victim’s chin and then slides his wedged hand toward his victim’s far shoulder.

Giles advises that we reach around our opponent’s shoulder to the bony bump on our opponent’s shoulder blade. By reaching around to the back of the shoulder, our opponent cannot grab our arm and pull it off, eliminating the threat.

With his arm secured to the back of his victim’s shoulder blade, Giles can slip his other arm out from under his opponent’s arm.  

With that arm free, he can snake it between his own neck and his opponent’s head.  It’s important not to bring this arm forward where his opponent can grab it, so Giles keeps it tight to his own body before slipping it between himself and his opponent.

All of this time, Giles still keeps his victim’s head immobilized using his own head.  And Giles makes sure his arm is fully in place behind his opponent’s head before he releases his opponent’s shoulder with the hand of his choking arm and grabs his other arm.

While most people grab their bicep, Giles encourages his students to grab their own shoulders.  In fact, to maximize the constriction in this choke, Giles reaches for his shoulders with both of his hands.

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Giles concludes his lesson by reminding his students not to reach in front of their opponents’ heads or slip their second arms above their opponents’ heads.  Instead, keep the arm close to your own body and out of reach.

Finally, remember that the pressure from this choke does not come from a straight pulling motion by the choking arm or from a straight pushing motion by the arm behind your victim’s head.

Pressure should come from the movement of your choking elbow back and toward the choking shoulder, just as when you were completing the choke with only one arm.

For Giles’s complete lesson, see the video below:

Are you ready to take your No Gi game to another level?  With Lachlan Giles' High Percentage No Gi Chokes, you will do just that.  You can get this amazing instructional here at BJJ Fanatics!

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