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Tighten Up Your Triangle With Antonio Carlos Junior

Tighten Up Your Triangle With Antonio Carlos Junior



Whether you are a newcomer to Jiu Jitsu or a lifelong practitioner, the triangle choke is one of the most recognizable and distinctive submission holds in the sport. Often used to finish fights in both Jiu Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts, there’s no denying the brutal effectiveness of a well-honed Triangle Choke. Triangles are typically taught to white belts in introductory classes but developing a tight choke is a long process that takes place over years of drilling and sparring.

In order to worry about tightening up the choke, we need to first understand how to progress ourselves into a position to finish. The steps for a traditional variation of this submission, as taught by Antonio Carlos Junior, can be seen below:


The Anatomy of a Triangle

Setting It Up

Setting up your partner for a triangle choke traditionally begins from closed guard. Antonio Carlos Junior points out that it’s nearly impossible to initiate this move while the opponent is postured up. As such, your first step is to break your opponents posture and bring them down into your closed guard as closely as possible. 

Check Out Antonio’s Complete Instructional HERE! Click Learn More!



In order to break your partner’s posture, you’ll want to combine two motions at once. The first motion is bringing our knees towards your chin in order to force the opponent to fall forward. It works by bucking them forward. The second motion to break the posture is to clinch with two hands behind the neck and yank downward. When your legs push the opponent forward and your arms pull them down, they will inevitably end up in a low, tight closed guard position.

Now that the opponent is controlled, it’s time to switch grips to prepare for the triangle choke. Release one hand from the neck, ensuring that the other stays strong as a single collar tie to control the opponent’s posture. They should not be able to sit back up if you clinch their neck and hold. During this process, you’ll keep your legs squeezed tightly to prevent them from backing out. Finally, your free hand should control your opponent's wrist and force it close to their sternum. Below is a summary of the technique

  • Begin in closed guard
  • Break opponent’s posture
    • Bring your knees to your chest
    • Snap down the opponent’s neck with both hands
  • Control the head with a single collar tie
  • Take wrist control with free arm

Making Your Move

Now that you have your opponent in a tight closed guard with their wrist pinned to their chest, it’s time to initiate the triangle. Your first step is to uncross your ankles to release your closed guard. This may seem counter intuitive, but it’s natural to move from a tight control when it’s time for you to attempt a submission.

As soon as you release guard, you give up a degree of control. This means your window will be short: immediately plant one foot and hip out, in a shrimping motion, to change your angle and get more perpendicular. Most people are unable to turn their knees 90 degrees from a head-on position. Cutting this angle will make it possible to place your calf across the back of your opponent with less strain on your own knee joint. 

Once you have the angle, it’s time to put your leg over your opponent’s neck and shoulders and figure four with the other leg. Once this position is locked in, the submission is basically inevitable. Pull down on the head as you squeeze your knees together and curl your calf muscles, and you’ll typically feel the tap in short order. Check out the summary below:

  • Unhook your ankles & plant one foot
  • Hip out to create space
  • Shove opponent’s arm south
  • Place your leg over the neck
  • Figure four your legs to close the triangle position

Tightening It Up

You’ve secured the triangle position and applied all the necessary force, but still can’t seem to find the submission. Many of us know the feeling of dumping every last bit of energy into a squeeze only to find out that something isn’t working. This could be caused by a variety of factors but they break down into three main categories: your opponent is significantly stronger, your opponent has a small neck, or you're doing it wrong. For the third problem, see the steps above and figure out what’s missing. For issues of size and strength, check out the tips below.

Tip 1: Tighten the Choke by Grabbing Your Own Shin

If you’ve locked in the triangle choke and can’t seem to finish, it’s because there isn’t enough pressure on your opponent’s neck. One easy way of cinching the choke a little tighter is to reach up and grab your own shin in order to take some space out. This is easy to accomplish with this setup by simply changing your single collar tie to a shin grab. To do this, simply rotate your hand from the neck to the shin. As a side note, make sure you grab your shin with a thumbless grip for maximum effectiveness.

Tip 2: Tighten the Choke by Underhooking Opponent’s Leg

Even after taking some space out with your single collar tie, you may still not have the pressure needed to close the triangle and get a submission. One sure-fire way to close any triangle is to underhook your opponent’s leg. Grabbing this underhook allows you to cut an angle that is at least 90 degrees, fully perpendicular to, your opponent. Taking this extreme angle adds an intense amount of pressure to your triangle, and should probably be the go-to finisher for many people. 

The next time you feel yourself squeezing and pulling on a triangle, remember to cycle back through these tips and you’ll be ready to lock it up in no time.

Who Is Antonio Carlos Junior?

Antonio Carlos Junior is a world-renowned martial artist from Brazil. He’s competed internationally in both Jiu Jitsu and in Mixed Martial arts. Carlos Junior got his start in grappling competitions early, winning World Championships in both his weight division and absolutes as a brown belt. He is currently fighting for the Professional Fighter’s League (PFL), Antonio Carlos Junior has competed in both the Middleweight and Light Heavyweight divisions of the UFC. His Mixed Martial Arts record speaks to his Jiu Jitsu prowess: He is 11-5-1 as a professional MMA competitor with nine wins by submission.

If you enjoyed Antonio Carlos Junior’s breakdown of the triangle choke and want to learn more, check out his instructional series “Triangle Chokes from Everywhere”. You’ll learn to identify and secure triangles from the top, bottom, side, and everywhere in between. When you’re ready, add some style to your game with his focused lessons on the flying triangle.


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