The High Elbow – BJJ Fanatics

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The Best Guillotine: The High Elbow

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Guillotines are some of the most fundamental submissions grapplers learn. These chokes, sometimes called front naked chokes, can be finished in many ways, some more ruthless than others. Although many grapplers learn this submission early on, many begin to ignore it later in their career. This is usually due to difficulty finishing the submission. With the appropriate knowledge, though, you can become a master of the guillotine.

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Since I’ve started grappling many years ago, I’ve probably learned over 20 ways to finish the guillotine. Unfortunately, most of them were similar in effectiveness and aren’t universally applicable to all grapplers. That’s until I started watching a lot of Garry Tonon and realizing that his guillotine looks far different than the rest. It was the high elbow guillotine, the same version that has been around for years and mastered by the likes of Marcelo Garcia.

What was it that made the high elbow variant of this submission so much better? Well it’s a lot. The small difference in arm position makes for huge gains in the ultimate finish. Here is a video by Mike Palladino that explains the basic concept behind the high elbow guillotine:

In order to establish the high elbow guillotine, two main things must happen. First, the choking arm should be place deeper than the traditional guillotine. I like to place it far enough to where the back of my hand on the choking arm is lying flat on the defender’s shoulder. The support hand will grab the other wrist with a traditional guillotine grip, but the elbow must be inverted so that it can lay against the defenders back.

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These two small changes have a huge impact on the choke. First, the overall strength of the choke increases without the need to squeeze harder. In fact, I often find that I barely need to squeeze at all to get the finish. The other benefit of this choke is that the placement of the arms provides better constriction of the carotid arteries, which are the blood vessels we look to squeeze with chokes. The high elbow guillotine is also very easy to finish from mount if the defender falls to their back.

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