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Head and Arm Chokes: Setups & Finishes

Head and Arm Chokes: Setups & Finishes


Head and arm chokes are some of the most powerful chokes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, MMA, and Self-Defense.  Head and arm chokes are some of the most high percentage chokes; they are good for more reasons than one.  You can utilize head and arm chokes as a submission, as a control position, as a sweep position, and a way to set up other submissions.  Head and arm chokes all work very well together as well and you can transition from one to another.

Head and Arm Chokes are widely used in Catch Wrestling.  One of the best Catch Wrestlers who also is the most sought after MMA Grappling coaches is Neil Melanson.  His head and arm chokes are SCARY good.


So what are some of the best head and arm chokes?  Well, when you think of head and arm chokes, the first and most important ones that come to mind are the arm in guillotine, and the arm triangle.  Other incredible head and arm chokes are Darce and the Anaconda.   All 4 of these chokes are some of the best submissions in bjj, MMA, and for self-defense for several reasons.  They are versatile, they do not require a gi, they are great for control, and they provide safety and security.

The Arm in Guillotine

The arm in guillotine is one of the first submissions that many bjj and MMA practitioners use.  It is one of the best submissions because of how versatile it is.  You don’t need a gi and it can be done from many positions.  You can do this submission from standing, you can do it from several guards, and you can do it while you are passed.  We could sit here and write about all of the positons that you can use this choke from but it is applicable from almost everywhere. 

This choke is not only an excellent weapon for bjj and grappling, it is one of the highest percentage submissions in the UFC and MMA, it is important to learn for self-defense, and it can easily save your life.  The reason the arm in guillotine is such a powerful choke and so important to learn is because it is one of the best ways to combat a takedown.  In MMA, bjj, and self-defense scenarios, your opponent can attempt to take you to the ground with a slam or whatever and the best weapon that you can use from many positions is the arm in guillotine.  Kron Gracie has one of the best arm in guillotines in bjj and in his ADCC match with Black Belt World Champion, Otavio Souza, Otavio did not want to engage from standing out of fear of the choke, after finally attempting to take Kron down, Kron was able to guillotine him in seconds.  Check out this video below with Master Renzo Gracie showing key details on how to properly apply the arm in guillotine.

When you have a good arm in guillotine you elevate your game to new heights and become dangerous, from so many positions.  The video above with Renzo Gracie is an excellent resource to learn how to apply the choke; he holds no secrets and shows great ways to finish.  Renzo is one of the best in the world at the arm in guillotine.

Arm Triangle

The arm triangle is another excellent head and arm choke.  This may be the most popular head and arm choke in MMA.  We constantly see people in the UFC finishing this submission; we have even seen some of the best UFC fighters in the world tap to this submission.  Although the arm triangle is not as popular in bjj, it is still an excellent submission.

The arm triangle may be one of the most important chokes to learn for self-defense, it is a painless way to stop an assailant in a self-defense scenario. The arm triangle also allows you to have a lot of control and safety from your opponent, once in the position, even if you are not able to finish the choke; it renders your opponent useless.  They can no longer attack you, kick you, punch you, or threaten you.  It is one of the best head and arm chokes to know.  Check out this video below with renowned bjj instructor, Stephan Kesting showing the arm triangle from mount.

The arm triangle can be a secret weapon when you learn to utilize it, you can use it from knee on belly, top half, side control, mount, back control, turtle, bottom half, bottom closed guardm and many other positions.

The Darce Choke

The darce choke is becoming more and more popular.  Although we have not seen it as much in the UFC, more and more people are taking the time to learn the intricacies of the position and doing very well with it.  The new show on UFC fight pass with Dana White called the Contender Series saw 2 people get put to sleep with Darce chokes in the first season.  The darce is a very popular choke in bjj and has been used at the highest levels. Robert Drysdale was actually able to catch Marcelo Garcia in a Darce choke in the finals of the ADCC open class. 

The darce works.  It is also a great choke for many of the same reasons, it is good for self-defense, mma, and bjj because it is versatile, it is a great point of control, you can go from the darce to the arm in guillotine, the arm triangle, or the anaconda and it is one of the best places to stay safe.  Check out this video below with the great Bernardo Faria and Ricardo Almeida and learn the best Darce from the knee cut.

The Anaconda Choke

The anaconda choke is the Darce’s best friend.  These chokes supplement each other extremely well.  Anywhere that you can do a Darce from, you can probably also do an anaconda choke.  They are both amazing for a lot of the same reasons.  They supplement each other well, work in gi or nogi, MMA, and self-defense.  Although the anaconda is not as prevalent in the UFC or Bellator right now, recently we have seen it exploding with popularity for good reason.   This is an amazing choke.  Check out this video below of a great Anaconda choke variation.

Using all Head and Arm Chokes to Get Other Things

So now that we have spoken about the fundamental head and arm choke and how they can be applied, we should look deeper into the benefits of mastering the head and arm chokes.  We have the basic ones like the guillotine, the anaconda, the D'arce, and the arm triangle that we spoke about above.  One thing that all of these chokes have in common is the fact that they can be used to sweep, get to other submisisons, and to pass the guard.  

Some people have mastered using head and arm chokes as a method of distraction so that they may be able to get to other things.  One famous grappler, Josh Hinger, is infamous for his hingertine.  Josh uses this submission as a method of doing many other things.  His whole game has been established from this position.  For example, Josh says that when he gets his head and arm guillotine, if he is on bottom, most of the time his opponent will either tap or they will be forced to concede a sweep so they can avoid the choke.  The same goes for top.  Sometimes Hinger is passing the guard and he realized that when he got a bite on the neck his opponents had to either let him advance position and get their guard passed or risk being choked. 

This same methodology can be applied to many of the head and arm chokes.  For instance, the D'arce is one of the best ways to get out of the half guard when your opponent has the under hook.   Being stuck in the half guard on top when your opponent has an under hook can be a terrible place to be.  With that said, one of the best submissions to threaten is the D'arce.  Even if you are not able to get the D'arce, this submission will likely oout a stop on your opponent's progression and allow you to pass the guard and advance position.  As we mentioned above, you can also combine many of these head and arm chokes. 

Something else to think about is the fact that you can also combine head and arm chokes with many other submissions.  For example, the arm triangle is one of the best ways to set up the ezekiel choke in the gi.  Once you are able to secure the position, if you are in the gi, you can jump to an ezekiel.  The arm in guillotine can help you attain a myriad of other submissions like the triangle, the omoplata, the arm lock and more.  Wrapping up the neck is one of the best things to do and since the head and arm is a better method of control, it is one of the best ways to advance positions, sweep, or submit.  Many people are curious to know which head and arm choke is superior for control and advancing position, but there is no right answer.  It depends on what the person likes and is good at.

Using Head and Arm Chokes to Escape

Last but not least, we can also lock up head and arm chokes as an escape method.  I used to roll with one guy that was so good at the anaconda and D'arce that he would literally let almost anyone pass his guard to side control so that he could trap them and set up the D'arce or Anaconda to sweep.  

Sometimes when you are in a bad position it can be a life saver to get the head and arm control and start making a defensive position an offensive one.  The leg drag has quickly become one of the most popular passing positions and this position leave your opponent vulnerable to the head and arm guillotine.  If you can use the guillotine as your opponent is threatening any pass, it is likely that they will not be able to succeed. 

So as you can tall with all  of these chokes, they offer a lot of the same benefits, they are versatile, offer control, offer options to transition to, and can be used from so many positions.  Not only are these excellent options, they all supplement each other very well.  If you get good at them you can easily go from one to other and back and forth that way you have a sequence of moves and a lot of options.

If you want to learn a lot of these chokes and get some of the best instruction on all of this, check out Neil Melanson’s DVD set “The Catch Wrestling Formula.”  Neil is the head grappling coach of the Blackzillians MMA team and has produced many world class UFC fighters.  Not only is he amazing at grappling, he is also an exceptional instructor and breaks things down like you’ve never seen.  He will open your eyes to a whole new world of bjj.


The Headhunter Guillotine Series by Neil Melanson is one of the best DVD / On Demand series for those looking to attack and finish no gi chokes including the guillotine choke, darces and other chokes from just about everywhere. Neil's "head hunting" skills are what made him one of the most sought after no gi and MMA coaches. He teaches at Xtreme Couture and Randy himself considers Neil one of the best submission grappling coaches in the world.

Learn The Forgotten Secrets Of The Guillotine – From The Most Deadly Catch Wrestler On Earth.



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