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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a black belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©Can Sönmez

01 May 2011

01/05/2011 - The Roger Choke

Class #392
RGA Aylesbury, (BJJ), Sahid Khamlichi, Aylesbury, UK - 01/05/2011

I got back from the Peak District yesterday, then returned to Bucks on Sunday. While I was away, my parents' new house was mostly finished, so the main job is now moving stuff over. I was there in time for some of the heavy lifting, which should continue over the next few days as everything comes out of storage. Although the temporary place near Tring has a great view, it will be nice to have something more permanent (though I will of course be moving to Bristol not long afterwards, so not all that permanent ;p).

Best thing about this new house is that it is quite close to RGA Bucks, around 2.6 miles away or so. That meant I could easily cycle over in about twenty minutes, which also means I don't have to depend on a lift or buses. Not to mention I get a good warm-up. I miss cycling everywhere, as that's an excellent way to stay fit and thin without having to make special time for exercise. Bristol (the other new house, belonging to my gf rather than my parents) is supposed to be especially cycle friendly, which bodes well.

Kev was at work putting out fires today, which meant that Sahid was taking class this time. His focus was mount, and as a Roger Gracie club, we fittingly looked in depth at Roger's version of the cross choke from mount. I've been this taught a few times over the years, including Roger himself, but it's always useful to go over the details again. As has been said many times before, it may be the first submission you learn, but it's one of the toughest to master.

I'll put up a bunch of pictures showing Roger choking out Lovato Jr in 2009, though I'm going to cheat and put them out of order: he also didn't set it up exactly the way I'm about to describe, but hopefully the photos will still help. You could also take a look at Trumpet Dan's videos, as he's spent a lot of time trying to work out Roger's technical mastery, including some private lessons. Finally, here's another video of Roger teaching the cross choke (make sure to turn on the subtitles by clicking 'CC' at the bottom right), but again not quite the same set-up.

The version Sahid taught was slightly different to the way I remember Roger teaching, but made a lot of sense (also, I think Sahid was basing it on a seminar Roger taught a while back, or possibly Roger's father). You begin in a strong mount, feet and knees squeezed in. Stay low, your arm based out, putting your head on the same side to concentrate your weight. Your other arm goes under their head, cross-facing, also using your shoulder to turn their head towards your basing side. It will now be tough to bridge you off. It is also important that you are really tight with your chest, so that there is no space for them to slip an arm inside to defend their neck.

Grab their same side collar with your basing arm, or just the material by their shoulder. This isn't going to be involved in the choke, as at this stage, you are simply looking to yank the gi material to your basing side. That should take out any slack. The grip comes next, as you pull your arm out from behind their head, instead reaching through (raising up as little as possible) for that collar you've carefully prepared. Grasp with your four fingers, palm facing up. Your free hand can continue to cinch up their collar if it still isn't tight enough.

The elbow of your gripping arm should drop to the other side of their neck, so that your forearm is uncomfortably across their throat. That's made even worse by the pressure of all your weight going forward: this should help distract them. With your grip, lift them up towards you slightly, twisting your hand so that you clear a small gap between their neck and collar. Into that gap, insert the thumb of your free hand, to establish your second grip.

Slide that thumb behind their head to the other side of their neck. As you do, also move your head to the other side of their head. Next, bring the arm of your thumb grip to the other side of their head, 'shaving' close to their face. This is to set up the choke, putting your wrists on both sides of their neck.

Once you've got the thumb arm into position, so that both carotid arteries are blocked off, move your forehead to the floor directly above their head. Twist your wrists and drop your weight into them to finish the choke.

Having covered an attack, next up was an escape from mount. This was the basic trap and roll, with a few extra details and grip variations. They are in high mount, so first you need to get them back on your hips. Put one arm across their belt line, bracing the wrist with your other hand. Push in order to scoot your shoulders back: the aim is to move yourself, not move them.

Once you're back in 'normal' mount, bump them forward with your knee. That should cause them to post out on their hands. As soon that happens, wrap around the outside of one of their arms, gable gripping your other hand and sucking their elbow in. At the same time, hook over their same side foot. To finish, bridge and roll: note that this will need to be a fairly swift motion, as otherwise they are likely to either get their foot free, wrench their arm loose, or even establish an underhook and go for a submission.

Sparring was specific from mount, so on top, I was as ever looking for a low grapevined mount and an ezequiel. Also as ever, I had trouble not telegraphing the technique: I'm trying to use my head by their face to hide what I'm doing, but it remains too obvious, so they can easily defend by preventing me getting enough space by their neck.

For once, I also had another attack to consider, which was the Roger choke we'd just been shown. Of course, that is exactly what everybody was looking to defend, so it proved tough to get the first grip established. I did at least manage to take the back at one point as they defended, but time ran out before I could work my arm under their chin for the rear naked choke or ezequiel.

Underneath, the white belt I was sparring with turned out to have pretty good control from mount. Either that, or I'm being overly reliant on the elbow escape and foot drag, with is by far my preferred route out of the mount. I was looking to bridge and roll as well, but I tend to run into trouble if somebody is able to scupper my elbow escape.

Then again, I did manage a more unorthodox escape, which I hadn't thought to try before. I first saw it on Saulo's DVD, where he shows what looks to be a sit-up sweep, but from under mount. You have to be careful about exposing your back, but it worked tonight, which was cool.


  1. Thank you for reminding me to work on my crosscollar :)

  2. Yeah, a lot of people give up on the cross choke (including me) because it is so damn hard to get. Well, unless you're Roger. ;)