The triangle is probably my favorite and most effective submission. I find that because I have relatively long legs, I can use it from closed guard and open guard easily, but also have no problem with set ups from less common positions like mount, side control, and back control.
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I wasn’t always good at the triangle, and even now I face some difficulties with it, a lot of the same difficulties other grapplers face. My issues come from the fact that even though my legs are long, they are thin and therefore cannot apply a lot of pressure. Because of this, I am always looking for ways to improve my triangle choke.
If you look online for videos on triangles, the majority of what you will find are technique videos. Very few videos exists which emphasize the mechanics on finishing the triangle. I think that’s because very few instructors really have mastered it. John Danaher is one of those instructors that understand every tiny detail of the triangle choke.
In the following video, John Danaher will overview some of the basics of triangle and discusses the importance of mechanics and angles and how it affects every grappler that attacks a triangle.
The most common issue faced by grapplers is getting the finishing angle for the triangle, which is vital because without it, it is difficult to get a strong enough squeeze. In the following video, Professor Danaher reviews this concept and shows us the best way to acquire it.
As with all techniques in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the triangle choke has little do with size and strength and more to do with biomechanics and technique. Sure, having thick legs might help your triangle, but better mechanics makes strength irrelevant.
Edwin Najmi Triangle Set Up
Because all students learn the triangle choke very early on in their grappling career, they also become skilled in defending it and cognizant in preventing it from happening in the first place. Because of this, grapplers need to expand their triangle attacks to ones that are surprising yet effective.
I am not saying that you can’t do simple triangle attacks, in fact, my favorite triangle attack is from closed guard and is probably one of the simple techniques to attack. If the top player tries to open my guard by digging their elbow into my thigh, all I have to do is push their wrist to their chest and lock my legs up around the head and arm.
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Another position you can attack the triangle choke from is half guard. Since many grapplers make half guard their primary guard, it would only seem logical to have a triangle choke attack from there. Fortunately, there are a lot of great techniques for getting this done.
Edwin Najmi is a BJJ black belt that is best known for his dynamic submission game. He is popular for is triangle attacks especially. In the following video, Edwin will explain a very effective triangle choke you can attack from half guard.
The reason the triangle choke can be easier to attack from half guard than closed guard is because the guard player is generally more mobile. Also, it is easier to get the over hook from half guard than in closed guard, and the over hook is very valuable in attacking triangle chokes.
Triangle Choke from Mount
Although many grapplers consider the triangle choke to be a submission they attack from various guards, especially half guard, the triangle choke can be attack from just about anywhere, including mount, side control, and back control.
The difference between guard triangles and triangles that are attacked from top positions is that because gravity is working against us from the top, it is more difficult to maneuver our legs. However, we can take advantage of gravity to help is pin and trap an arm so we can attack the triangle.
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My favorite tip to every grappler when they are attacking from mount is always start by pinning the arm. If the defender doesn’t respond, you can attack them with an Americana, and no one wants to tap to that, so they will defend. Their defense usually always gives us an opening for better attacks.
In the following video, Lachlan Giles will explain how to attack a triangle choke from mount after pinning the defender’s arm. Lachlan is a black belt out of Absolute MMA in Australia and is one of my favorite instructors in the entire sport. See below:
To finish the triangle from mount, I personally like to roll on my side and let it become a traditional triangle choke because I am comfortable with it there. You can also opt to finish from mount by pulling the back of the head or even just attacking a straight arm lock.
Triangle While Passing Guard
Finally, I want to finish off this article with one of the coolest yet most underused triangle choke attack used in Jiu Jitsu. The triangle choke while passing guard. This triangle choke attack is probably on the list of the more difficult triangle choke attacks, but if one masters it, they will be able to utilize it against everyone and anyone.
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I think the most difficult aspect, and probably the most off-putting too, of this triangle choke is that it requires a lot of distance to cover while carrying a lot risk. In order for this triangle to be even remotely effective, it has to be timed perfectly. Even a delay of one second can make it obsolete, and with this attack, you really only have one attempt to make it work.
In the following video by John Danaher, the triangle from the guard passing position is illustrated as a response to when the defender posts with their arm. John Danaher is a heavier, slightly older grappler, and if he can do this, there is no reason that you can’t either. All it takes is a little bit of confidence.
When attacking this type of “flying” triangle, it is important to not let your feet get trapped between your opponent’s legs. If they do, they will get trapped and you won’t be able to elevate them off the ground, which is necessary.
Just as warning, please do not attempt this submission attack in competition or rolling without having drilled it first. This is one of those techniques that can go wrong, and you can either hurt yourself or your opponent, or at least end up in a bad spot and lose a match.
Yes, the triangle choke is a tricky submission, but it is still one of the best. I highly recommend every grappler spend more time practicing it and learning it because of its versatility and efficacy. Good luck!
John Danher is one of the few people to have athletes be successful at the highest levels in both Professional Grappling as well as MMA. He has systemized his approach to teaching,learning,and APPLYING his Jiu-Jitsu. Enter the System with John Danaher!