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Takedown to Choke with Olympic Champion Kayla Harrison
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Takedown to Choke with Olympic Champion Kayla Harrison

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Different rule sets create the need for new skill sets for athletes to develop. In jiu-jitsu, having an impassable guard is an essential skill. 

You could have to spend most of a match playing guard, hunting for sweeps or submissions. 

In judo, time on the mat is limited before the referee stops the action and stands both competitors back up in a neutral reset. This time constraint and focus on stand up requires a different set of skills for judokas then a jiu jitsu player.

 Most people assume this means they should focus solely on throwing. Broadly, this is true. But at a certain level judoka become adept at defensive falling, avoiding landing on their backs and giving up points. Transitions from throwing into mat work are a must have for judokas looking for wins, and because of limited ground time they need to be moving quickly towards the goal. 

Want to learn Two Time Olympic Gold Medalist Kayla Harrison's FAVORITE TECHNIQUES!? Click Learn More!

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In the video below, Kayla Harrison demonstrates a takedown that wouldn’t score any points on it’s own being used to lead straight into a choke. Kayla is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and the greatest judoka the U.S has ever produced. She is an undefeated mixed martial arts fighter as well, with most of her wins by submission.

The Takedown

 The first thing Harrison does is grab her opponent’s sleeve with her opposite hand and drag it across. Her other hand reaches across their back and grabs the fabric in a Russian tie variation. She is actively driving her chest into the back of the opponent’s shoulder, breaking their posture and forcing them to bend over. With an arm isolated and broken posture, it is very difficult for them to attack any meaningful way. 

From there, Kayla drives her leg back, smashing the back of her thigh into the front of their leg. Since they are already leaning forward they will have no choice but to fall and catch themselves in turtle. The hand that was gripping the sleeve lets go and switches to the opposite collar. 

The Choke

From the turtle Kaya immediately attacks a clock choke. She rotates so that her shoulder blade is on top of the opponent’s next and sits out, moving towards the head. The goal is to collapse them completely flat to the mat, making it difficult to defend the choke. Her free arm is on the ground against the opponent’s head, making a wedge to hold the head in place. Kayla’s legs are in a running man pose, same as if she was doing a kesa gatame pin. 

The only escape available for the opponent to start trying to circle towards Kayla. This will unwind the choke and possible let them get out of the back door. It is quite easy for Kayla to circle with them to keep the choking pressure on. But if she feels like is losing the choke, she will keep the grip on the collar and step up into a north south position, with her knee braced behind their head, and continue applying choking pressure.

The Pin 

If they somehow survive all of this, the choke can always be exchanged for a pin. She threads her free arm under their top arm, keeping close to the armpit. This is used to drive their back to the mat and becomes the under hook. The choking releases the collar and switches to apply the cross face. The opponent should have been trying to get their back to the mat anyways, so this is riding their own momentum into the pin. 

For judo, this is a great sequence that many opponents wouldn’t see coming because it doesn’t start off with immediately going for an ippon. This is also good for jiu jitsu players, but they would also benefit from the focus and quickness that judo requires, going straight for the kill on the ground. 


Two-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Kayla Harrison is ready to show you the techniques that helped her become one of the most accomplished combat athletes on the planet! The Real Judo Chop and Other Favorites by Kayla Harrison will increase your success rate with throws, grips, and submissions! Check It out!

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