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Set Up a Killer Triangle Today! With Matheus Gabriel, Edwin Najmi, and Shawn Williams
The triangle. An essential classic, this cornerstone technique of BJJ is one the pillars of fundamental knowledge. We’re exposed to the triangle early and often and though it may not be everyone’s favorite move, it’s critical that we know its inner workings and respect its power. Did you know the first recorded use of the triangle was documented at a Judo tournament in 1921? One of its other big days in the spotlight occurred on December 16th, 1994, when Royce Gracie employed the submission against Dan Severn at UFC 4. It’s been a great 100 years for the triangle, and it doesn’t look like it’s losing any steam!
Using the legs, a as a means of strangulation, the triangle causes an incredible amount of constriction using good mechanics and the power of the lower body musculature. The triangle has evolved to be so incredibly versatile that it can be applied from almost any position. Lankier practitioners tend to gravitate towards the submission but with proper knowledge the triangle can be executed by all body types.
As the triangle continues to evolve and lend itself to even more settings, high level practitioners are finding unique ways to put this classic submission to work for them. Luckily these BJJ titans are willing to share their secrets with us common folk! Let’s take a look at a couple of different triangles and see if we can draw some inspiration and ideas from them to add value to our own training.
Let’s start with an open guard set up and application from Matheus Gabriel. In his first World’s as a black belt this year, Gabriel won gold. Accomplishing this feat at the ripe old age of 21, Gabriel is an up and coming BJJ star with plenty of time to make a big name for himself! Check this out!
Gabriel begins in a standard De La Riva guard configuration with a grip on the collar and one on the same side sleeve as well. Its incredibly common for most passers to begin to being their advance by trying to sit on the free foot of the guard passer (the opposite side of the DLR hook). Achieving this position allows a passer to find a home base a to begin dismantling the guard.
As his partner begins to control his leg and attempts to put it in between his legs, Gabriel kicks his partner’s leg away, causing him to spread out his base and post on the floor with his hand. As this occurs, Gabriel unwinds his DLR hook and places it on his partners hip. He’s also been given a large amount of space to slide his other leg through the armpit area and around his partner’s neck in to a triangle set up position.
Posture is a killer of the triangle and this rings true throughout every step of the submission. Even though we have made it to the setup, the submission can still be lost if we don’t keep a focus on keeping the passers posture in check. TO do this Gabriel crosses his feet and keeps his grip on the collar tight and close to him. He then passes the arm across his body and adjusts for the finish.
This is a phenomenal set up. Its efficient, applicable, and were not being exposed to a laundry list of small details here. This is something you could literally try tonight and have success. I love simple ideas that payoff big time and this is certainly something that we can all put to work for ourselves no matter our skill level. Great stuff from this talented young man with an amazing story.
The triangle from half guard is another variation that shows itself often, but its application varies from player to player. Let’s take a look at Edwin Najmi’s variation and see if we can pick up some good details. Najmi has hit the scene hard and claimed his place as one of the most exciting BJJ fighters in the current competition scene. Hess got an exciting game and an unpredictable yet refined style. Check this out!
Setting up in the half guard, Najmi looks to secure his partner’s wrist with his palm facing his partner, almost as if he’s trying to push the wrist in to his partners belt. He then looks to sit up and over hook is partners arm. The passer may be expecting a sweep here, which definitely helps to throw them off the scent of the triangle. With the over hook secured, Najmi now threads his over hook hand through and grabs his own wrist, locking a figure four style grip. He now has the over hook controlled as well as his partners bottom wrist, creating a pretty bad scenario for the passer.
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Najmi then uses his knee shield as a tool to create some space and distance and then removes his bottom leg. With nothing to obstruct his leg from traveling through the space, Najmi brings it our and over the shoulder in tot eh triangle set up position.
He can then remove his hands from the mix, pass the arm across and begin pursue the finish. He’s sure to make the shoulder disappear and cut an angle to get the strongest finish possible.
I love this set up. With that over hook and the figure four locked up, there’s a lot of chance for success here. We just have to always be mindful of maintaining the passers posture. Najmi’s finishing details here about covering the shoulder and creating an angle will also be a huge help!
Let’s finish up with some instruction from Shawn Williams. Williams is famous for his unique approach to the guard, which he’s created an entire system out of, aptly titled, “The Williams Guard”. In this particular segment of instruction, he demonstrates how to secure a triangle set up using this guard configuration. Have a look!
First let’s get a little more familiar with what the Williams guard actually is. The guard is essentially closed but with an interesting configuration. Notice how Williams has his right arm threaded over and around his right knee. He then clamps his hands together, closing this circle and creating a situation where posture is controlled and he can keep his partner very close to him. From here you may be able to see the multitude of options available, one of course being the triangle.
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So now that we know a little bit about the actual guard itself, let’s move on to the triangle set up. Williams briefly describes a couple of different ways for the passer to get himself in trouble here. As the top man begins to deal with the guard, he’s presented with a few different choices, all of which lead him from the frying pan to the fire. In this particular scenario, the passer has chosen to post his hand on the mat in an attempt to regain his posture. As he begins to rise a pocket of space has been opened where Williams can pass his leg through and trap his partner int eh triangle set up position.
As his knee leads the charge, Williams also drops his top heel into the space below his partners collar bone, connecting to his knee and creating a clamping situation around his partners upper body. The next order of business for Williams will be to remove his foot. He does this by continuing to create an angle and either swiveling it out through the space or pulling his heel toward his chest and removing the leg. Williams prefers the second method more so than the first for its speed, over the more cumbersome first method that relies more on hip flexibility. As Williams states, both are great methods but his go to is the second. Once the leg is removed, Williams can begin to pursue a solid finish.
This is another user-friendly set up that does not require a ton of effort on both ends to bring to life. If you haven’t experienced much of the Williams guard, delve in to it a bit. I’ve found it’s an excellent way to maintain the guard, especially with bigger stronger opponents and there’s a ton of pathways to victory from the position. Check it out!
I enjoyed working through these set ups a great deal. These are all very applicable. Don’t forget to keep control over your partners posture as you work your way through these techniques. We will all snag many triangles over the years, but unfortunately due to lack of control over posture we will only finish a low percentage of them, until posture becomes priority! Keep this in mind and enjoy more success when attacking this classic submission! Good luck!
Few competitors today put an emphasis on Submission like Edwin Najmi. Mission Submission is an instructional dedicated to ALL of the Jiu-Jitsu Practitioners out there who are ALWAYS looking to Finish. Go on a 3-part submission mission that covers the ins and outs of the Darce, Triangles, and Footlocks! Learn all of Edwins BEST moves!