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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

12 July 2017

12/07/2017 - Teaching | Closed Guard | Cross Choke (Palm Up, Palm Down)

Teaching #686
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 12/07/2017

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.

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It is the second grip that generally proves to be challenging. The 'palm up, palm down' variation goes some way to solving this problem, as your second hand grabs their opposite shoulder rather than having to fight through for a collar grip. Drive your forearm into the neck from there, making sure that with both arms, you are cutting into the neck with the sharp part of your arm next to your wrist. It shouldn't be the back of your arm, as that's squishy and flat. By contrast, the side of the arm is sharp and narrow.

Another Jason Scully tip from The Grapplers Guide at this point is to bring the elbow of your second arm up high by your head, preventing them from blocking it as easily or pinning that arm to your chest. If they do try to block with their same side hand, you can dig your elbow straight past their hand and into the neck. He again recommends angling off, this time towards the shoulder you're trying to grab. To help that spin, punch your initial collar grip away from you, towards their far shoulder. That will expose their neck and help you swivel into position, plus it connects well with an armbar.

In order to save my fingers, my preference is to use the gi tail for this choke. The application is the same, except that rather than establishing a tight collar grip, you pull out their gi and pull it back across. Feed that to your other hand, grasping the gi tail and locking your forearm tight to their neck. Your other hand comes over the top, grabbing the gi you've pulled over. Pressing both forearms into the neck, twist your arms and squeeze for the finish. The arm placement is the same, again getting that acute angle with the wrist bone to press into their arteries. Be careful you are only twisting your arms, not their neck. Twisting their neck will end up in a crank (which can do lasting damage), not a choke (which won't).

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Teaching Notes: Another class that I felt went well. Next time, I want to emphasise jamming your elbow into their chest. I talked quite a lot about using the blade of the arm and the angle into the neck, but that's still worth emphasising. If your elbow is too far across, you're probably going to end up pressing into the windpipe rather than the carotid arteries. You therefore need to adjust your angle (shallow angle, I think, if I'm getting my terminology right? Or acute, I think that works too). Related to that, telling people to avoid twisting the neck, it shouldn't be a neck crank. This is mainly an issue with chokes where you wrap the gi around.

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