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Finishing the Guillotine

Finishing the Guillotine


 Maximize your choke skills

The guillotine is an old school grappling submission that can be attacked from many angles. Some positions that will allow an attacker to search for the guillotine include the closed and open guard, mount, and side control. The only position that the guillotine should not be attacked from is when you are in someone else’s closed guard as that can open you up to back takes. Even though the guillotine is quite versatile, finishing the submission can sometimes be cumbersome even if you completed all the appropriate steps. This can be quite frustrating due to the fact that some practitioners make finishing the guillotine look quite easy. In this article, I want to describe one of the most effective modifications to the classic guillotine to increase your finishing rate.

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The high-elbow guillotine is a variation of the classical guillotine, as opposed to the arm in guillotine, that is extremely strong and painful. It was made popular by the likes of very successful competitors such as Marcelo Garcia and Garry Tonon who used it to finish many skilled opponents. In the standard guillotine, we find that our elbows will typically be placed beneath the shoulders of the opponent, sometimes even squeezing into our own rib cage. The problem with this is that this grip cannot effectively pinch the carotid arteries that supply blood to the brain, rendering the choke obsolete. The high elbow modification will instead make use of the forearms more effectively to inhibit blood flow. In the following video, Garry Tonon shows a set-up of the high elbow guillotine from the snap down.


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The first important detail regarding the high elbow guillotine is the rotation around the head with your arms. As Garry mentions, the high elbow part of the technique is not a matter of shoulder flexibility but rotating around so that the elbow will naturally rise over the shoulders. Once this initial position is achieved, it is important to securely align your forearm on the back as vertically as possible. The most interesting part of this guillotine is that the finish comes exclusively from the hips and almost no arm squeezing is needed to secure the tap.


The high elbow guillotine is a very strong modification to the standard guillotine and can be set up anytime the standard variant can, whether it be from closed guard, butterfly guard, or a scramble. Since learning this form of the guillotine from Garry Tonon in a seminar, my finishing rate has improved significantly. I constantly look for this submission because I know that if I catch it correctly, I will be finishing the submission every time.

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