Perfect Triangle Mechanics and Setup!
The classic triangle choke. It is one of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s best techniques and really exemplifies Brazilian Jiu Jitsu’s ability to be dangerous from any position no matter your size, it shows how even when flat on your back and the opponent is on top of you there is still a way to choke them unconcious.
A common problem people have with the triangle choke is that their legs are just too short to lock up the choke effectively or their opponent just has massive shoulders that prevent the choke. Before we get into the technique, let’s hear what John Danaher has to say regarding the triangle choke and its mechanics.
Were you listening? Did you hear what he said? Even if you have short legs or you are grappling a larger opponent you can still attack, control, and finish your triangle chokes. Danaher agrees that body proportions will affect the choke (same as any technique) but even short people can still be very effective with their triangles. So now that we understand just how important proper mechanics are to finishing this submission, let’s learn the details from John and I am confident even the short legged people watching this will be able to find much success in their triangles after this!
So the first takeaway is that even if you have short legs or are fighting somebody bigger, it is not about how long your legs are, but your body positioning. If you get into the correct positioning it will allow even short legs to lock the triangle effectively.
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The second takeaway from this is what determines the tightness of the lock. John shows that there are two ways he makes the triangle diameter around the neck smaller. The first is squeezing his triangle lock to lessen the space, the second is by pulling the knees to his chest. These actions make the actual lock of the triangle so small that just your forearm should be able to fit in there. He explains that he can make the triangles diameter larger or smaller by utilizing these two details. This also shows that people who have broad shoulders can be more difficult to strangle, unless your positioning is just right.
Starting in a standard front triangle, John explains that the shoulder must be eliminated from the triangle. Danaher only wants the neck and the arm in the triangle. Remember how small the diameter of that triangle will be? Having a larger shoulder in there will make it difficult to lock the strangle. To eliminate this shoulder Danaher will look to make an angle. The more your partner can drive into you or the more your partner rises with posture, the more stress there will be on your triangle lock, this stresses how you cannot stay right in front of your partner. To eliminate the ability to make posture John will utilize a single collar tie (only one hand) on his partners head, this makes it more difficult for them to rise up and stress the triangle open.
Now that John has broken his opponents posture he will begin to make an angle so his triangle can no longer be stacked. To do this Danaher will put his calf muscle over his partners shoulder, allowing him to turn into his angle with the assistance of his right hand under his partners legs. Once he makes an angle he will put his leg over top of the shoulder and look to turn his two feet in the direction his partner was facing. If John leaves his feet down his partners back, the act of stacking will separate his feet, breaking the lock.
Now with the angle and with his left hand still holding the head, John has negated the ability to posture out of the triangle and the ability to stack the triangle. Keeping his lower back off the floor, John places his left leg over his partners shoulder and on top of the head wedging it in place. At this point the shoulder is behind John's leg and eliminated out of the triangle. To lock the triangle John explains that you bring your support leg (the leg in front of the shoulder) to the strangle leg and not vice versa. To do this John lifts his lower back off the floor and makes the figure four lock with his legs. This triangle will be extremely tight now because the only body parts in in the diameter of the triangle is the head and arm, there is no shoulder so the choke does not rely on John having very long legs that can traverse the extra circumference of a broad shoulder.
At no point during this technique does Danaher give his partner a way to defend. They can not stack you because of the angle nor can they posture because of the collar tie holding the head down. John then shows that even if your opponent decides to stand up that it is of no use, John simply turns the strangle legs knee towards his partners crotch while the support leg covers the shoulder, once John fully locks his triangle there is no where else to go and the pressure is enormous.
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Changing to a side view, Danaher further enforces the concept of eliminating the shoulder from your lock. When John is straight on with his partner the shoulder is in the lock, but as he makes his angle (while still controlling posture with his collar tie) his support leg eliminates that shoulder by covering it in front. Once the triangle is locked you can still see the shoulder behind John's leg because all that is in the strangle now is the opponent's head and the arm. Done properly someone with short legs can utilize this triangle to great effect because they do not have to worry about the width of their opponents shoulder impairing their ability to fully lock the strangle. John then goes to show just how important making that angle is, that even when he does not fully lock the strangle he is still able to finish the choke on his partner.
Now that we know anyone can perform a triangle choke and the details needed for the proper execution of the technique, let’s take a look at an extremely simple but highly effective setup for this powerful strangle.
To start John shows double wrist control. Each of his hands controls one of his opponents hands. He pulls one hand in and pushes the other hand to his opponents chest then locks his triangle. This is personally how I first learned the triangle as well and how a friend of mine won his first MMA fight. John goes on to explain that this setup has been around for a very long time and although there is not anything necessarily wrong with the setup, a good practitioner will not let you do it to them because all the opponent needs to do to defend it is to make posture as you push their hand back in to them, this will make it very difficult for your lock to reach their neck. John explains that this setup does nothing to control your partners posture, it relies on your opponent not knowing what is going on or just being lazy.
Danaher explains that instead of double wrist control he prefers a wrist and collar tie control. When the opponent is controlling your biceps, John reaches his hand to the opposite side (going under his partners arm) and feeds his opponents wrist to his hand using his bicep. Once John grabs the wrist with his cross side hand he secures a two on one with his other hand. So now both hands are controlling one arm of his opponents. From his two on one, John will keep his right hand on the wrist (so same hand holding the same side arm of his partner) making a one on one grip, Johns left hand will swim to the inside of his opponents while he uses his locked guard to pull his opponent towards him. Once pulled in John will take a collar tie grip on the back of opponents neck. Danaher now has a collar and wrist control. Johns collar tie arm is controlling the inside position by using his forearm alongside his partners collar bone on the inside of his partners elbow, preventing his partner to swim his hand inside of Johns control.
With Johns collar tie preventing posture, Danaher will then look to push his opponents wrist in to his sternum. Once the hand is in his partners sternum, John steps his support leg on to his partners hip and uses it to heist his hips high so his strangle leg can bite his opponent's neck. Maintaining his collar tie with the left hand, Johns right hand goes through his partners legs (hooking the near side leg) and he makes his angle for the triangle. From the angle, John’s hips are off the ground and the support leg makes its wedge behind his opponents neck. John then brings the support leg to the strangle leg just like the second video and locks his figure four with his legs to finish the strangle.
So there it is, the mechanics you will need to perform the perfect front triangle and all the details for a highly effective set up. Give this a try and watch your triangle finishing percentage skyrocket!