When we train in the gi, there is a staggering amount of ways to use the material against our opponents.
The collar, the gi tails, even our own gi can be used as a weapon in a BJJ match. There are numerous ways to grip, position, and employ the gi as a tool of submission.
One of my very first experiences with using the gi to choke my training partner was the baseball choke. I immediately gravitated towards the technique from the very first time it was shown to me. It’s still very present in my training and I enjoy discovering new methods of implementing the choke.
We normally see the technique from a knee on belly position, as this is a great place to set up the choke. (You’ll see this in today’s video) But with BJJ stars such as Magid Hage at the helm of evolving the baseball choke, you’ll find this choke is incredibly versatile and can be applied from a number of different positions.
Let’s look at a couple of different variations of the baseball choke. The choke itself is pretty straight forward, but the set ups and finishing mechanics may vary from player to player.
In this video Bernardo Faria demonstrates a variation of this classic choke from the knee on belly position. This is very simple, and very applicable with great instruction from Faria. If you haven’t had much exposure to the baseball choke, this is a great place to start! Check it out!
Settled in side control, Faria begins to look for two distinct grips. One being a thumb down grip in the back of his partner’s collar, the other a grip on the belt. He uses these two grips to push downward as he pops up and transition to a knee on belly position.
Here his thumb down grip is in perfect position already, he just needs to slide it toward his partners ear a bit. His other hand enters palm up on the opposite side, creating that classic baseball hands configuration characteristic of the choke. Once the hands are in place, he rotates and moves quickly to the north south position.
For the finish, Faria let’s his head travel all the way to the opposite side of his partners body. He then places his head and knees on the floor and begins to apply pressure until he gets the tap.
The twisting nature of this choke makes for an incredibly tight submission. As Faria travels in a circular motion around his partner, the choke tightens at a very rapid rate, making the tap come with some urgency.
As Faria explains, this same submission can also be applied from side control. But be careful here, if you enter the collar with a straight arm without checking your partner’s near side leg, you may be at risk of being arm barred. To make sure his partner’s near leg doesn’t enter the picture, Faria blocks his partner’s hip with his knee. Eliminating this threat allows Faria to pursue the same exact choke and details from side control. He gives himself a bit of room to sneak his palm up grip in to the collar and then continues on just like the first variation.
In this next video we get a glimpse of Murilo Bustamante’s version of the baseball choke. You’ll notice some similarities, and a couple of differences as well. Have a look!
Did you know that Murilo is probably best known for his UFC title defense where he had to tap Matt Lindland out twice? Learn how he did it.
From side control, Bustamante simply uses the floor to begin elevating his body, and transitions to a knee on belly position. He acquires the classic baseball grip, leaving some slack in the lapel. This is a good detail. I find sometimes when attempting the choke, if the lapel is too tight or if the hands are too close together, it can create some painful sensations in your wrists as you begin to make your turn. Leaving the lapel, a bit loose gives us room to move quickly and rotate without hurting our own wrists. This choke gets tight quickly, and leaving the lapel a bit loose will not change the outcome.
Bustamante also recommends a swift transition to the north south position, just like Faria. But here, he does not drop to his knees. He prefers to stay on the balls of his feet, as he feels it gives him more finishing power. As he transitions his head to the other side of his partners body, he begins to squeeze, creating that constriction that commands the tap.
Here’s another great piece of instruction from Lachlan Giles. This is a different way to attack the baseball choke and he also addresses come variables you may encounter while trying to execute the submission. Have a look.
In this variation, Giles uses the lapel as a tool to make the choke even more devastating. From side control, he sneaks the slack of the lapel up under his partner’s armpit and passes it off to his other hand. He then transitions to knee on belly, but here he places his head down on his partner’s shoulder to keep his partner’s hand from defending. As he removes his head, he quickly slides his hand in to the collar, palm up.
This is where things start to get a little bit different than the previous variations. With his hands in the proper position, Giles now leaves the knee on belly, retreating to a sit out style position. From here he can use his own hips to keep his partners hips at bay as he tries to insert the bottom knee to disrupt the progression of the choke. When the time is right, Giles steps over his partner’s head with his top leg and then transitions to the knees for the finish.
In the second variation, Giles is performing the choke from a knee cut passing scenario. As he slides through to complete the pass, Giles stays nice and tight to the inside to make sure his partner isn’t able to secure an under hook, or penetrate the space with his top knee. As Giles cuts through his partner snags his ankle in a ¼ guard type position.
While keeping his hips low, Giles begins to acquire the baseball grips. He keeps his palm up forearm tight to the chest, giving no space to his bottom partner to dismantle the set up. Giles goes through the same motions as before, and begins to knee slide through getting hip to hip once again. Giles then offers a little advice here on the finish. As he steps over the head, he looks to place his knee right next to the head, so that his partner cannot escape his head from the set up. Leaving too much space here may disrupt his efforts to finish.
The baseball choke is a great option in the gi, and as you can see, it’s highly accessible from side control. I really enjoyed breaking down these videos, as I was able to pick up some great details for my own practice. I hope this helps!
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