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Killer Guillotine with Neil Melanson

Killer Guillotine with Neil Melanson


Neil Melanson has an incredibly rich grappling pedigree so it’s great to have him with us here at BJJ Fanatics teaching his unorthodox and incredibly effective style.

Neil has trained UFC athletes at the highest level, including Randy Couture, Vitor Belfort, Dominick Cruz, he was coach at the Alliance MMA and Blackzilians teams and many many more. 

Neil has made an in depth research of grappling as a whole system, drawing from jiu-jitsu, wrestling, catch wrestling, judo and more in order to find high percentage techniques that work under pressure

Today Neil shares with us his take on the guillotine choke. 


As the adage goes, we learn the rules so we can get creative with them. Neil focuses on the fundamentals of the guillotine so that he can go further with this technique and apply it in unconventional ways that our opponent can’t counter with conventional escapes. 

This is incredibly important in an environment where the people we are trying to submit know how we are trying to submit them. 

To begin with the way Neil is applying the guillotine here is a fist choke, and one he’ll apply from a bad positional situation. If Neil already has a good positional situation he’ll apply a more conventional guillotine, but it’s great to have depth in this one submission to have multiple attacking options.

As the Bruce Lee quote goes - don’t fear the man that practices 10,000 kicks once, but do fear the man that’s practised one kick 10,000 times.  

The conventional hand positioning for a guillotine is the top hand makes a C grip over the outside edge of the bottom hand and points downwards. For this variation of the guillotine the hands point upwards and the top hand grips around the fleshy heel of the thumb. 

From here we don’t want the punching knuckles of the fist into the throat as this can backfire on us later, but we want to use the little finger knuckle. 

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The typical mistake that comes here is that people grip with their other hand too low down their arm, but as we have already noted, we want to grip high and around the heel of the thumb.

From here we close down the space between our arms and body, which in turn drives our fist upwards, and deeper into our opponents throat. It’s not that we are pushing with a single arm into our opponent, but instead using our entire upper body to mechanically drive the choke in. 

The first obvious defense our opponent is going to use, particularly if they have a strong neck, is tucking the chin in to close down the space around the front of their neck. If we are simply grabbing and pulling on their chin we are entering into an inefficient battle of strength vs strength and making our technique much less effective. 

Instead Neil wants to use everything at his disposal to get the advantage over an opponent who will be trying to defend against this submission with everything they have

As long as Neil’s opponent has a straight spine they can engage the entire core of their body to reinforce their neck resisting against the intrusion of a guillotine. So to begin with Neil wants to break down the postural strength of his opponent and he does this by rotating the head of his opponent. Check for more The Hidden Mechanics Of Postura Jiu-Jitsu by Francesco Fonte.

By rotating the chin towards his opponents own back Neil dramatically reduces the structural strength of the neck to defend against getting a good bite with the attacking arm. 

Interestingly Neil uses a technique for this that follows the mechanical principle of a wave. By moving and rotating the chin back and forth Neil makes the rotation an unstable, dynamic movement that is harder to resist than simple linear pressure. At the same time Neil is pressuring with the shoulder to further take the neck out of alignment. 

At the same time as opening up the neck Neil knows his opponent will be trying to block the hand coming in so he wants to hide it with an underhook, or grabbing the wrist, taking it to the outside, whatever he can do to stop his opponent intercept the attacking hand. 

From here Neil increases the pressure and further breaks down his opponents posture to reduce their strength to defend. This also opens up lots of space for Neil to get good penetration with the choking hand. 

Once he has the hand in position its a simple matter of taking away the space and as we can see from Bernardo’s reaction, the choke comes on quickly.

The typical escape route here is falling to one side, as we saw Khabib Nurmagomedov successfully defend the guillotine attempt by Dustin Poirier in their recent title fight. As we can see this Killer Guillotine by Neil still works when our opponent pulls the ripcord and falls out trying to defend. No such luck and it’s tap or nap time!

Check out the full video to see Neil’s application from bottom as well!
Also you might be interested in The Triangle Choke Basics To Advanced by Joao Chiozzi

Neil has a really interesting background with the federal government as an Air Marshal. This grounding has given him unique tactical skills that enable him to bottleneck his opponents into systems of attack that continuously reduces their options and leads to them quickly being in deep water. 

The Headhunter Guillotine Series by Neil Melanson
If you want to take your own guillotine system to the next level then invest in learning from one of the best coaches out there and check out The Headhunter Guillotine Series with Neil Melanson here!



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