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Ten Finger Guillotine with Professor Lachlan Giles
Choke or armbar, that is the question.
Well, it really isn’t, since a good jiu-jitsu competitor should learn both, and an opponent defending arm attacks will leave their neck open, and vice versa. But let’s pretend for a moment that answer is chokes. In the gi we have all kind of choke options: bow and arrow, clock choke, cross choke, Ezekiel, loop choke to name a few.
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But in nogi, our options become much more limited. Without the fabric our choking surfaces are our forearms and our opponent’s shoulders, and our legs. With so few options, your nogi choke game needs to be really focused on setups for them and a few tricky variations.
Lachlan Giles, Head coach of Absolute MMA, Polaris and ADCC stand out, has a nasty guillotine choke for the stubborn turtle player:
Giles uses this choke as a second option. For the traditional guillotine choke, the attacker pops the turtled opponents head off to the side to create space to apply the choke. In this variation, the opponent is aware of that threat and is keeping their head inside and under Giles’s body, making it impossible for Giles to wrap his arm around the head.
So instead Giles settles his stomach over the turtled players head, and comes up onto his feet in a low squatting stance. His hands cup under the chin and pull up. The end result is Giles’ body forms a barrier that the head is being pulled against, well the hands and arms drive into the neck to finish the choke.
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Hand details: Coach Giles’s is using a chin strap grip initially to hold the head. A carry over from wrestling, the chin strap is just four fingers cupped under the opponent’s chin. This grip is good practice for any offense against the turtle. It provides strong control of the opponent’s head and keeps the neck open for choke attacks like this one. To finish the choke, reinforce with the second hand with another chin strap (one hand over the other), squeeze the elbows in tight, and pull the hands up.
Most people’s response to feeling this choke come in is to try and run backwards and get the head out. Coming up into the low squat not only brings hips into play for finishing the choke, but allows you to run them down and keep the pressure on. Keeping your elbows tucked in tight ensure that the head can’t sneak to either side.
And if the head does escape, you are in prime position to attack the normal guillotine straight away.
As Giles’ notes, this choke does hit the trachea as well as the arteries, so be nice to your training partners when practicing this. Coach Giles has a whole instructional on nogi choking if you are looking to expand that part of your game.