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Gain A Deeper Understanding Of The Principles And Mechanics Of The Guillotine With Karel Pravec

Gain A Deeper Understanding Of The Principles And Mechanics Of The Guillotine With Karel Pravec



There are always a mix of people at the gym who are either training to sharpen their technique or working on using their strength. Both are important but experience shows us that technique is often the more important of the two. Something that can be overlooked at times however, are the principles surrounding different submissions or techniques.

It is one thing to have proper technique, but understanding exactly why something works the way it does brings you to a whole other level. When you understand the how and why behind why something works the way it does, it sharpens your technique naturally. That awareness works itself into your technique.

This is something that can absolutely push your game ahead of your competitors. You can almost think of Jiu Jitsu like math; part of it is understanding how to use the formulas, but it all makes more sense when you actually know what you’re solving for and why (sorry for the nerdy analogy).

In this video, Karel Pravec provides insight into the strategy, principles, and mechanics of the guillotine choke, check it out below!


Stance And The Dominant Arm

One of the first important details you need to work out is which arm you have a stronger guillotine with, and how that translates into the stance you should use. Karel gives the example by saying he knows tons of people who have an amazing right handed guillotine but never use it. Why is that?

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Especially in terms of MMA training, a higher percentage of people use an orthadox stance which means their left leg is their lead leg. If your opponent shoots for a takedown like a single leg, he is likely going for your lead leg. If he shoots for your left lead leg, you are going to attack the guillotine with your left arm.

This means you have two options. First, you need to practice a ton to improve your left armed guillotine. Or, you need to switch your stance. You can become proficient in attacking the guillotine with both arms, but more often than not your dominant arm is going to be where you are strongest in your guillotine, so switching stances is the more reasonable option. Find even more about this technique in Guillotine The World by Alexandre Nogueira.

Offense VS Defense

Even though guillotine is considered a submission, it can be used both offensively and defensively. On the offensive side it can be used to create positioning to pass the guard, or to be used to snap your opponent down to go for a takedown or another submission attempt. 

Additionally, it can be used as an attacking method for when your partner turtles up, forcing him to defend it and open up so you can start making a transition. The main defensive use of the guillotine is to defend against takedowns. If you can quickly lock up a guillotine when your partner shoots for a single leg, he is going to have to abandon the takedown attempt to defend against the submission.

Grips and Positioning 

There is a wide variety of grips that can be used for the guillotine. In picking the grip that works best for you, it is important to pay attention to the positioning of your wrist. Karel states that he likes to position his grips and his arms so that the space between his wrist and his arm form a miniature rear naked choke, placing the trachea right inbetween it. 

The major benefit of this position is that it is very shallow and you can always get it in. You don’t have to go very deep like you would for a high elbow guillotine. While still effective, if you are fighting for deeper positioning it is decreasing your chances of finishing the submission.

There is also the arm in VS no arm in guillotine. Karel prefers the no arm in guillotine because it gives him the ability to control both carotid arteries. There are a bunch of other positive and negative factors that come into play with this choice, but using the arm in guillotine gives you one more thing to worry about; is the shoulder in the correct position to block the carotid artery?


One of the biggest things that should be applied to all aspects of your Jiu Jitsu game is the idea of control. Anytime you have a good submission attempt and you are controlling both the head and arm or just the head, whether you get the submission or not you still have a significant amount of control over your opponent. 

Perhaps your opponent has good carotid arteries or maybe he started to read the submission and was able to reposition slightly, you need to make sure you still use that submission attempt. Use it not just as a submission, but also as a form of control that allows you to improve your position. 

Additionally, you need to learn how to follow up. Perhaps your opponent shoots for a takedown and you lock up a guillotine but they flop to the side and you lose it but you end up on top. You can’t just think “well darn, I missed it”, you need to immediately go into secondary submissions. This makes for a great drilling opportunity, have your partner get out of an initial submission and figure out where you are going next.

About Karel Pravec

Karel Pravec, often referred to as Silver Fox, is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Renzo Gracie, being one of the Gracie’s first students in the United States. Karel has an interesting story as his first run in with Jiu Jitsu was at a weekend long seminar with Helio, Rorion, Royler, Royce, and other Gracie family members. Can you imagine…

Karel did not start competing until he received his black belt in his mid 40’s, but has impressively earned 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place titles in IBJJF, NAGA, and Grapplers Quest US Nationals tournaments. The Jiu Jitsu community is lucky to have a teacher like Karel, who was fortunate enough to learn directly from the source.

About Karel’s Instructional 

Karel has devoted this entire instructional to mastering guillotine concepts and principles. Included you will find techniques such as counters to the guillotine, countering their counter, variations of the arm in guillotine choke, defensive scenarios, and so much more.

If you understand the importance of grasping the principles of this sport that we all love so much, then Karel is definitely your guy. He has had the opportunity to learn from the absolute best, and his dedication has transformed him into an incredible teacher. Take your understanding and your technique to the highest level possible, check out his instructional here!



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