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Improve Your Cross Choke With These Crucial Details
The mount is considered one of the supreme positions in BJJ. From a street-ready perspective, few places to be can be more frightening than having someone's full weight on your chest and torso, with the ability to rain punches down upon your face. In sport jiu jitsu, the position can be equally as dangerous as the top player who has mounted their opponent needs to expend relatively little energy maintaining the position once achieved.
By staying high on the opponents chest with the knees moving towards the armpits, they will also keep themselves at a safe distance in relation to the bottom person's hips, which could potentially lift and debase them. One of the first submissions learned from a mounted position, is the cross collar choke from mount, one of the most fundamental and deadly of the submissions available to the top-mount player.
Coincidentally, though the mount and the cross collar choke from mount are two of the first positions, people are exposed to when they train, it is also one of the last positions a good practitioner will become adept at and perfect. Why is that? Is it because the position is somehow inferior and not really as effective as we once believed?
All you need to do to disprove this idea is to watch highlights of the 2009 IBJJF World Championships to see the effectiveness of this choke in the skilled hands of arguably one of the greatest practitioners to ever put on a Gi, Roger Gracie. During his championship run in 2009, he defeated 9 different opponents, not with a variety of techniques, but with one technique, the mounted cross choke. Nine different competitors of the highest order were dispatched with the same choke that many practitioners learn in their first month of BJJ. To say it is not effective, is laughable.
It can be argued that one of the reasons that the choke is not favored by practitioners is not because it is not effective, but instead because the general BJJ student is not confident in their mount retention skills. To have an effective submission game from a position, that position must be held and maintained. Also, as one of the earliest moves we are exposed to, it can sometimes be lost in the 'white belt flurry' of trying to amass as much technique knowledge (with no real expertise) in the hopes of getting to the fancier stuff down the road. This is a common mistake that happens more often than not.
Once a student becomes more experienced, they realize that many of those early techniques that they did not spend adequate time with are just the thing they need to fill the holes in their game. This is a natural progression as you move up the belt ranks to realize that the basics are the basics for a reason.
In the video below world champions Bernardo Faria and Matheus Gonzaga share a version of the standard mounted collar choke that brings quite a few details of the technique to light that will not only improve your finishing percentage, but will also go a long way to make your mount control much more powerful and formidable. Matheus is the newest addition to the Bernardo Faria Academy's instructor team and as a featherweight grappler, he was able to win the Worlds at Purple Belt which is one of the most difficult belts because the overall depth of the competition at that belt.
Take a look at the technique video and we'll break down some key points that set this approach apart and will have you choking people from the mount in no time at all.
Improve your mount
One of the most important takeaways from Matheus Gonzaga should be the use of his knees to pinch the ribs and torso of Bernardo as he works to advance the submission. Too often, we focus on grapevining the legs or being concerned about what our feet are doing under the mounted person's butt and hips. By squeezing with our powerful thigh muscles against the ribs, we further constrict the breathing and begin the choking process before we ever come near their collars. This technique or approach will also allow us to retain mount against a thrashing opponent longer which could open up different submission options depending on how they react.
Improve your elbow pressure
Once the initial grip is placed in the collar as deeply as it can be around their neck and the blade of your forearm is beginning to turn into their neck and carotid arteries, it's important to know where to rest your elbow. To further add to the pressure and constriction of the set up that he has applied with the knee pressure, Matheus rests his choking hand elbow in their diaphragm further adding to their suffering. Interestingly, this opens up a potential submission if you wrap your free arm around their head and drive the pressure of the bladed against their throat while keeping your elbow in their diaphragm and chest area, you could potentially inspire a tap.
Improve your second hand's approach
Instead of reaching right into the collar to secure the second grip, Matheus sheds light on how he uses the forearm to expose the neck when the opponent attempts to use their chin, neck and head to block that second grip. Once the forearm is used to move the head away and expose that side of the collar, you can reach into the collar or on the shoulder to secure the powerful grip. After a quick adjustment of the head to the choking hand side, the opponent will succumb to this powerful cross collar choke.
Now is as good a time as any to take another look at the cross choke from mount, as well as your mount position in general to see what details you can add that may be missing from making this the devastating submission it has proven itself to be since the earliest days of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.