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This website is about Brazilian jiu jitsu (BJJ). I'm a purple belt who started in 2006, teaching and training at Artemis BJJ in Bristol, UK. All content ©2004-2016 Can Sönmez

21 June 2016

21/06/2016 - BJJ Globetrotter Camp | Leuven 2016 | Bow & Arrow Choke (Brad Wolfson)

Class #727
BJJ Globetrotter Camp (Sportoase Leuven), Brad Wolfson, Leuven, Belgium, 21/06/2016

I was looking forward to this after Wolfson's first lesson yesterday, because his teaching approach gelled well with my learning style. The classes I'm going to make a particular effort to attend are those that break this down into short sections, focusing on a small number of techniques without a million steps. Wolfson made me even keener to attend his lessons with an early quote from today, where he talked about how he didn't care if we only did one technique for an hour, the important thing was getting that sorted. Exactly what I want. I can think of nothing better in terms of format if all the instructors picked one technique for their whole class (that's how I most like to learn, which is why I teach that way).

A video posted by Can (Jun) (@slideyfoot) on


The technique in question was the bow and arrow choke. That was a contrast to yesterday, as this is a technique I know well and have taught plenty of times. Starting from standard back control with a seat-bet grip, you open up their collar with the hand you have under their armpit. Grip it with the hand you have over their shoulder. I normally tell my students not to grip too high, but interestingly Wolfson made a point of saying where you grip didn't matter (and demonstrated it too). So I may be emphasising that too much, something for me to play with.

His progression from there was different too. Instead of grabbing the non-choking side leg to help swing into position, he doesn't force the position. Instead, he reacts to their escape attempt. As they bring their leg out in the standard bridging back escape, he comes up on his choking elbow, bringing his leg up to their neck (like you would if you were looking to do the technical mount style back retake). Your other foot is in technical mount now, having shifted across (like another thing I often teach, going to mount if they start to escape the back). Thrust your hips into them, also driving off that foot, lifting their head and upper torso sideways.

That gives you the space to bring the leg nearest their head over their neck, grab their leg for control, then drop back and secure the choke. I prefer to be upright for the choke, so it's useful to have more details on the alternative way to finish. There was plenty more detail too: most of the classes at BJJ Globetrotter Camps will be a series of techniques and a short bit of drilling, packing in up to around six techniques (normally related, but not always: the latter classes are the ones I tend to avoid, as I get confused if it's loads of unrelated stuff. I'm easily confused ;D).

Wolfson also showed how you could enter the back from knee on belly, moving to bow and arrow from there. You're going for a cross choke from knee on belly. Your first hand gets into the collar no problem, they block the second hand, leaving it by their shoulder or gi. That's fine, as this is just the set-up (though of course you can finish the choke if they don't block it successfully enough). Step around their head unwinding your hands, then do a kettlebell swing motion to lift them upright. Just as with a kettlebell swing, this should be about the hip thrust, not pulling with your back. I felt like I was using my back too much on this, plus I seemed to jam my wrist a bit, so I'll need to play with it some more (with a light training partner, to be safe).

Finally, if you can't get your hand in for the grip, use your own gi instead. Pull out your lapel, passing that tightly over their shoulder to your other hand. Wolfson had an evocative simile here, saying "throw it over their shoulder like a cape." You can then lock that in and apply the rest of the choke as normal. The gi is able to cut past their hands, or even if not, you can often choke them with their own hand by tightening that lapel across. Naturally it isn't invincible, sometimes people will be able to defend (especially if they get both hands in and clamp their elbows down). If that happens, just as with any bow and arrow choke, you can just switch to one of the many follow-ups, like an armbar. If they are committing to grabbing your lapel and pushing it away, almost always they will leave a gap somewhere else as a result.

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