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How Good is your Cross Choke?

How Good is your Cross Choke?


The cross choke has long been one of the most popular submissions in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with the gi.  This choke utilizes the lapels on the kimono to constrict the corroded arteries of your opponents.  This has long been one of the most popular chokes because of how dynamic, efficient and effective it is.  The cross choke has several benefits; one of the biggest of them, is the fact that it can be applied from a variety of different positions.  Some of those include full mount, side control, knee on belly, bottom half guard, top half guard, and when someone is in your closed guard.

The versatility of the cross choke makes it worth mastering.  Since this position can be applied from virtually everywhere, why not bee efficient with it?  If you could use the same move from closed guard, mount, half guard, side, knee on belly, and everywhere in between, it is probably a good idea to be proficient with it. 

Although the cross choke may seem simple on the surface, this position is actually very hard to master.  The finite details of how to finish this move from different positions are what segregates high level cross chokes from basic ones.  If you have ever rolled with an opponent who has a high level cross choke then you most certainly know how powerful it can be.  Some of the highest-level competitors have utilized this technique for years.  Some of these famous competitors include Roger Gracie, Xande Riberio, Saulo Ribeiro and many more. 

Today we are going to look at two of our best instructional videos on how to finish the cross choke.  One of them is going to be a finish from the mount and the other is going to be a finish from the closed guard.  Let’s look below and then we will do a breakdown.

Cross Choke from the Mount with Matheus Gonzaga (The Best Details)

First off let us start with an introduction for who Matheus Gonzaga is.  Matheus won the adult purple belt world championship with the IBJJF at one of the toughest divisions.  There was over 100 people in the division, he has also won several tournaments at brown belt and he is now a black belt.  Matheus is one of the instructors at Bernardo Faria’s new academy which is in Bedford, MA. 

Bernardo is a 5x world champion at black belt and has said on multiple occasions that Matheus is one of the best instructors and competitors that he has ever been around.  Matheus is going to breakdown the cross choke from mount and he is going to give us a lot of the subtle details that can make your cross choke extremely powerful.  The video is below and then we will break it down.

So as you can see above there are a lot of details for what many consider a basic move.  Matheus starts with giving his tips on how to properly maintain the mount position.  One of the things that you cannot see in the video above is how tight Matheus has his knees on Bernardo’s ribs.

Bernardo said that it felt really like a body triangle on his waist, this is an amazing way to keep the mount and start setting your attack up.  After Matheus has solidified his position he is able to get a very deep cross collar grip.  Notice how deep his initial grips is.  This is one of the most important details, Matheus also keeps his wrist and forearm strait and brings his elbow to Bernardo’s sternum.

The combination of the cross-collar grip and putting his elbow on the sternum makes your opponent feel an immense amount of pressure on them.  Matheus places his head on the mat because he is anticipating his opponent to hip bump him, when this occurs he will snake his second grip in.  This grip does not need to be super deep like the first but one thing that he does is push his opponent’s head away with his forearm to be able to get the second grip.  This is a super important and game changing detail. 

Last, he will place his head on the side of the hand that is on top and pull his opponent up, this motion is much like doing a seated row at the gym.  He brings his elbows to his ribs, so he can close the whole that their neck is in.   There you have it, a super advanced take on the cross choke from mount.  Matheus is no stranger to being detailed and he is an incredible instructor.  If you have the chance to visit Bernardo Faria’s school and take a class with him, we urge you to do so.

Cross Choke from the Closed Guard with Luis Heredia

Now we are going to look at the classic cross choke from the bottom with Luis Heredia.  Luis is a Rickson Gracie black belt and he is one of the original gangsters of bjj.  People refer to Luis as Rickson’s hitman.  He got this nickname because he trained with Rickson at a time when people would come into Rickson’s school and try to challenge him.  When people challenged Rickson, he would tell them that if they go through Luis then he will accept.  Rickson never had to accept a challenge because nobody could get through Luis.  Now let’s see how Luis does the cross choke.

So as you can see above, Luis has a classic take on this position.  Luis went over several different grip variations.  Let’s look at the similarities in the finish and not at the specific grips.  There was a common trend that he even shared with Matheus.  Notice that Luis will always bring his head to the side of his top hand just like Matheus was going from the mount, he also brings his opponent closer to him by drawing his elbows to his ribs.

The mechanics of the finish are consistent with that of Matheus way of finishing the choke from the mount.  That is what makes the cross choke so efficient, whether you are doing this from the mount, side, knee on belly, bottom half, top half, or closed guard, you are using the same mechanics to finish.

If you want to take your cross choke to the next level and learn more basic and old school approaches on classic positions.  Check out Luis Heredia’s DVD (also available ondemand) “Pure Jiu Jitsu.”  This has been one of our top selling DVD sets for a long time and we highly recommend it.  The instruction and detail is second to none and it will help you develop your basics.



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