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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

10 July 2017

10/07/2017 - Teaching | Closed Guard | Cross Choke (Palm Up, Palm Up & Deep Grip)

Teaching #685
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 10/07/2017

The classic cross choke from guard starts with a grip on their opposite collar, up high past their neck, getting your elbow to their chest. This can lead to all sorts of attacks and sweeps, but the cross choke is probably the most traditional. However, it can also be tough to finish, not least because everybody is expecting the attack. Make sure you've broken down their posture when you go for this, as it will be really hard to submit with a cross choke if they are still upright and have their arms in place.

It is the second grip that generally proves to be challenging. Jason Scully has a good tip here, recommending that you angle off to help shoot your second arm underneath the first. You're aiming to get both hands together behind their neck: in practice, you are unlikely to get them to touch, but get as close as you can. Suck your elbows in, pulling their head down in the process. Do not flare out your elbows: they can easily defend that by simply wrapping over your elbows and bringing them back together. To finish, twist your hands inwards to press the sharp bony part of your arm (i.e., the side your thumb is on) into their carotid arteries.

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There is a handy Roy Dean trick you can try if your grip has slipped down too low to apply the choke. Shoot your arms up straight, aiming to get your thumbs touching behind their neck at the back of their collar (ideally, gripping right by the tag), then pull them back down. Your grips can then progress as normal: don't try to choke with your arms extended. Also, remember to turn your thumbs inwards rather than out (or to put it another way, turn them away from your face rather than towards it. Imagine they've been tied together with a string, so you can't open up any space between them). Turning them outwards will work too, but inwards should be tighter.

A handy variation is to get a really deep grasp of the collar. I learned this from Roy Dean's demonstration on his Brown Belt Requirements DVD, where he calls it the 'Relson' choke: I've been using it regularly ever since. To get the deep grip choke, first establish that grip. You may find it helps to sit up to get it in really deep. As Dean discusses on his DVD, an especially deep grip can help your choke as well as give you authoritative control.

Often people will let you get a grip on their collar from guard, unlike the same situation from under mount, despite the threat being similar. If possible, it's a good idea to open up the collar with your same side hand to help get your other hand in as deep as possible. Like John Will says, this will also take the slack out of their gi.

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Once you have it, this deep grip provides three main advantages. Firstly, you get great control, as you can pull them down towards you. Secondly, it could be the beginning of a choke. Lift their chin with your forearm to make some space, then insert your other grip. Due to the depth of your first grip, the second hand doesn't need to go as far. Turn your thumbs inwards (away from you, towards them) for the choke, pulling in with your elbows (don't flare them out).

Jason Scully has a number of great tips over on The Grapplers Guide, with a couple of videos about collar chokes from closed guard. He suggests angling off to help get that second grip in, rather than staying square on. He also advises grabbing their collar with both hands to pull them down and insert your first grip, should you have trouble breaking their posture. As Scully points out, you can also push with your initial grip, towards their neck, to help open up the space.

Secondly, even if you don't land the choke, just having the grip will make them start to worry about that choke rather than thinking about passing. Thirdly, it means you can establish a collar and elbow grip. There are various attacks you can do from there, the most common of which are probably armbars, scissor and push sweeps. Should that grip slip, then you still have a more orthodox collar choke available, or the numerous options from a collar and elbow/sleeve grip, if you established that hold.

Teaching Notes: This lesson format works well, I think. The main thing to emphasise next time is making sure you are chopping in with the blade of your arm, not the back. Specifically, it's the blade by your wrist, on the thumb side. That needs to jam right into their neck, a few people were going a little high, getting too close to the jaw. Also, I could talk more about rotating your hands inwards: I mentioned it, but didn't use the analogy I've gone with before, which is imagining there is an elastic band around both your thumbs.

Open mat was fun too, where I had an initial play with Andrew 'Goatfury' Smith's tips on a a half butterfly sweep. Hopefully I'll have that sufficiently down by August to try teaching it, along with some Paul Schreiner half butterfly passing. The video from the live stream is up on the Artemis BJJ Facebook page, and should also be embedded below (though I think it doesn't show properly in RSS):

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