The head and arm choke was a submission I thought I understood as a white belt but didn’t actually. In my early years, I struggled with finishing this submission even though I was landing it regularly. It wasn’t until I became a purple that I really began to understand the power of the choke and how to finish it appropriately.
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The head and arm choke is a strangle used from a top position, typically mount or sound control, and requires the attacker to trap the defender’s head and arm just like a triangle but with the hands. This is why this submission is sometimes referred to as an arm triangle. Just like the arm triangle, the finish comes mostly from the defender’s own shoulder squeezing into their carotid artery while the attacks other limb constricts the other side.
By examining the mechanics of the triangle choke from guard, you can learn a lot of lessons on how to effectively apply pressure in this choke. When executing a triangle choke, the attacker is looking to apply pressure in a manner perpendicular to the defender’s body. This mechanic will allow for the greatest amount of squeezing power.
One of the biggest problems I faced with this choke that many other people face is getting that sideways pressure against the shoulder. There are two elements of the attacker that are used to adjust this. The first is their body position and the second is their grip.
There are lots of grips that work well in the head and arm triangle. The most common ones are the gable grip and figure four(rear naked choke) grip. The grip you should use depend on both how big your arms are and how broad the defender’s shoulders are. Ideally, the figure four grip is preferred because it closes any amount of space, but if the defender has broad shoulders and you can only connect a gable grip, that is fine too. In the following video by BJJ Fanatics, you will see how to the figure four grip for this choke.
The next important thing you need to work on when attacking this choke is how low and deep your shoulder is. Because you can be patient with this submission, you should spend a lot of time perfecting the position before trying to finish. This involves continuously retreating and dropping your shoulder lower and lower until it hits the sweet spot.
Finally, when finishing an arm triangle, you want to cut an angle just like we did with the standard triangle choke. To do this, all you need to do is sprawl your legs and begin walking to the side of your opponent. This mechanics will allow you too apply tons of perpendicular pressure to the defender’s neck.
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