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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

18 April 2018

18/04/2018 - Teaching | Side Control | Gi Tail Choke

Teaching #771
Artemis BJJ (MYGYM Bristol), Can Sönmez, Bristol, UK - 18/05/2018

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I first learned this choke at RGA Bucks from Matt Burn, back in 2010. It's become one of my main offensive options from side control since then. The gi tail choke starts from the classic side control position, with an arm under the head.

Open up your gi with your far hand. In sparring, you'll sometimes find that your gi is already open, or you may need to be sneaky about it (e.g., from reverse scarf hold, so they can't see what you're doing with your gi). Punch that gi tail inside their arm, then feed the gi lapel to your other hand (that should still be under their head). Once you have the gi tail in place, get a firm grip: you may want to keep on feeding it further to make your grip even more secure.

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Cinch it tight to their neck (keep in mind that it is the gi material that will choke them, so keep your fist out of the way), straightening the arm you have under their head. Put your free hand on the floor by their same side hip, to stop them following you (always a good idea if you are transitioning to north-south). Keeping your upper body low, walk your legs around towards their head, as if you were going to north south. At the same time, move your head towards their near hip: they will probably tap before you get there, but if not, keep going until you can put your head next to their hip.

If the submission still isn't happening, make sure you're keeping your arm straight and pressed into their neck, so that your gi lapel digs into the other side of their neck. There's also the option of raising your hips and jamming your knee next to their head to increase leverage. I tend to avoid that, as I don't like to give them any space, but it's an option.

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Should you have difficult straightening out your arm, try moving your head further down their body, past their leg. That should enable you to stretch out your body further, giving you the room to straighten your arm out fully. It may also help if you turn your shoulder in and straighten out your arm before you turn: adjusting mid-turn can be tricky. Finally, keep in mind that your grip should mean that you can return to a tight, safe side control at any point, then either attempt the same submission or go for something else.

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Teaching Notes: This is my favourite choke, so I'm relatively confident about teaching it now. Points to continue emphasising for next time are fully extending the arm, with that slight shoulder turn. Moving your head all the way to the other hip, although often they will tap before you get there, so you can stop.

I didn't highlight that you don't go under the arm with the lapel, although there are techniques that do. It doesn't look like anybody went under the arm by accident, so it may be that mentioning it would be confusing. I'll keep an eye on that. Stay off your knees to maximise pressure, and then the important safety point, don't crank your partners neck. That happened with a few people, but I'm pleased that the club culture is such that they paused and tried to resolve it, instead of just cranking away.

The solution, I think, is to make sure you're gripping right at the bottom of the gi lapel, to get as much length as possible. Punching it out first will help in that situation too, forcing out as much of the gi as you can.

It is also worth keeping in mind the versions where your bum rises up, and/or you put your knee by their head to increase leverage. In addition to that, a couple of times more recently people have blocked this choke by getting their arm in the way. I'm not sure if that was me being sloppy on the set-up, but something to practice before teaching it again. I assume it was sloppiness. ;)

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