Jiu-Jitsu Letter

Don't Flex

Sometimes teaching the rear naked choke is difficult because the student squeezes too hard before they get the full lockup. What often happens is the student laces the arms incorrectly but still gets the tap. This reinforces poor technique because the student got the tap, and a white belt doesn’t know any better. They think a tap equals correct application.

Recently, I’ve just been telling students not to flex their arm when applying chokes. Instead, get the full lock before applying any pressure. And then, flexing the arm is the last step, if it’s even necessary.

This is important especially in non-naked chokes, that is, the arm triangle1. It applies to leg triangles too.

When thinking about your arm or leg around a neck, think of a blood pressure cuff. Get that as tight as possible so there’s no space between the neck and your arm (or leg). And then think of contracting your muscles as pumping air into the cuff. The tighter the fit before the air, the easier it’ll be to finish.

  1. “Arm triangle” should be an umbrella term for any arm-in choke, but people usually use it when describing the mounted or side head and arm choke. Anyway, this principle applies to D’Arce and Anaconda too. ↩︎

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