There are an infinite number of possibilities in a scramble - but there should be only one goal - the opponents back

There are an infinite number of possibilities in a scramble - but there should be only one goal - the opponents back: It can be hard to know what to do in the fleeting time and motion of a scrambles. The single most useful thing you can have under these circumstances is A SENSE OF DIRECTION. You can actually go in several good directions in a scramble, but in my opinion the best direction will always be towards your opponents back. The back is a big target, a huge percentage of our body’s surface area, so it will always be available at some point as you move through a prolonged scramble. Once you get there it enables you to control and finish the toughest opponents. When your world is a confusing tangle of limbs flying around the mat - keep your thought process simple and clear - AIM FOR THE BACK. Here, Gordon Ryan does exactly that at the ADCC world championships. He is a fine example showing you don’t need to the fastest athlete to be a superb scrambler - just an athlete with a good sense of direction. Remember, in a race between a speedster with no sense of direction versus a plodder who knows exactly where he wants to go - the plodder will beat the speedster every time

Most times you have a juji gatame arm bar you also have a triangle available

Most times you have a juji gatame arm bar you also have a triangle available: The positioning for arm bars and triangles is such that WHENEVER YOU HAVE ONE, YOU ALMOST ALWAYS HAVE THE OTHER AVAILABLE. Triangles have the inherent advantage that they a locked around your opponents head and shoulder and hence much tighter. Also, triangles offer the dual benefits of a strangle as well as an arm lock and also, you can attack the joints from a triangle as well or even better than you can from a conventional juji gatame position. For these reasons it is often worth your time to switch your legs from the classic arm bar to a triangle when working for your submission. At little cost you will soon find yourself exerting considerably more control and with more finishing options. Here, Gordon Ryan takes an Ollie to from a brutal arm bar into a still more brutal triangle variation that makes escape very unlikely and allows him to choose his next attack in a leisurely fashion. Next time you are in arm bar position, play around with transitions to triangle variations - front, side, rear and reverse - and see what kind of havoc you can create

Make sure you have good strangles from the front and the back

Make sure you have good strangles from the front and the back: History has shown that strangles from rear mount have been the single most successful and versatile form of submission in Jiu jitsu. All students should do everything in their power to increase their skill in this area. Less well known however, is the idea that one of the best ways to increase your success with rear strangles is to get good at front strangles. Once you establish a reputation as a dangerous strangler from frontal positions, opponents will be forced to go into strong defensive reactions to that threat - reactions so strong and predictable that they make the task of shifting to a position behind an opponent to set up rear strangles much easier than they would otherwise be. DIVERSION will always be one of the best means to break through strong defenses in combat sports - and a good front strangle is an excellent diversion for a quick go behind and entry into your favorite rear strangles. So make sure you can attack well both front and back with strangle attacks, since improvement in one will very naturally lead to increased success with the other (yes, the relationship goes in both directions, though usually front to back is preferable over back to front because it leads to a more controlling position )

Passing guard as a route to the back

Passing guard as a route to the back: When you first begin the study of Jiu jitsu you learn to pass the guard into top pins, usually side pins but sometimes directly to mount. As you go against better and better opponents you will soon find that they employ many methods of guard retention that make passing very difficult. It can be a very frustrating thing to run into the many roadblocks that good opponents can create to your favorite passes. Understand however, that many of these methods of guard retention are intended to stop passes into top pins, but in doing so they very often create momentary BACK EXPOSURE. You must have your mind programmed to jump on this new opportunity immediately - it won’t be there for long. Every sequences of guard passing versus guard retention is essentially a PROLONGED SCRAMBLE and as such, the back is one of the best targets. Program your mind to hunt for the back in these scrambles just as much as you do for the side pin and you will double your chances of a score against tough guards

Strangles - Gi vs No gi

Strangles - Gi vs No gi: Strangles, and in particular, back strangles, are the single most devastating weapon in all of Jiu jitsu. Nothing else gives such certainty of success in application whilst maintaining your own safety from counters. Yet the two primary applications, gi and no gi, are very different from each other. In the case of no gi strangles from the back, you must use your head as a blocking wedge close to your opponents head. Your bodies will be aligned and the power of the strangle will come from the rotation of your elbow around his neck. The instrument of strangulation will be your wrist/forearm and bicep. This is rather thick and so often it can be problematic to penetrate under the chin and often requires trapping the opponents defensive arms prior to applying the strangle. In the case of collar strangles, things are very different. Now the instrument of the strangle is the opponents lapel/collar. It has a hard and very thin edge that slices under the jaw/chin like a knife and makes penetration to the strangle far more efficient. The collar/lapel is like a rope around the neck - an extraordinarily effective strangulation implement. In addition, unlike naked strangles, you want to form a perpendicular angle to your opponents shoulders and the power of the strangle comes from your bodyweight hanging off your opponent and your leverage leg pressing over his far shoulder. This puts all your bodyweight and leg strength into a strangle with a cutting rope around the neck - this creates a far greater degree of efficiency strangle than any naked strangle can ever hope to attain. Compare the two body positions in the photos and see the big differences in alignment, leg work and bodyweight application and understand that back strangles with a gi are a very different matter from strangles without one.

Gi and no gi - the strangling medium

Gi and no gi - the strangling medium: When it’s time to strangle someone with your upper body (strangles with the legs are quite different) there are options. In no gi grappling it will generally be your arms, in particular the biceps on one side and wrist/forearm on the other with the wrist/forearm side doing most of the work. In gi grappling the preferred method will be with the opponents collar (there are other methods that are very effective). The collar has a thin edge to it that is harder and thinner than the forearm/wrist and thus does a better job of penetrating under the jaw to get to the carotid arteries. The collar mimics very well the superior strangling properties of a strong rope or sash that is the best means of strangulation you can ever use - but which of course is not an option in a Jiu jitsu match. There are a few cases where one can use naked strangles in a gi match, but in the vast majority of cases, the collar will provide a much better strangling medium than the arm/wrist. Here you can see the limits of a arm/wrist to penetrate under the jaw as Gordon Ryan strangles an opponent on his run to double gold at ADCC 2019. In this case he had to perform a mandible strangle over the jaw - less efficient but still very effective. A gi collar would allow much easier penetration under the jaw in circumstances like this due to its blade like edge. Learning to use the edge of the collar will make you strangle with even greater power and precision than you do with the arms.

All strangles are good - but rear strangles are generally the best

All strangles are good - but rear strangles are generally the best: The back is the king of positions when engaged in no gi submission grappling. When using a gi you can use the collars to create strong strangle threat from the mount and in MMA you can use punches from mount to set up myriad submissions - so you can make a strong argument for the mount as the ultimate position (or at least AS good as rear mount) in those contexts - but no gi submission grappling I rate rear mount above all. The statistics back up this belief. Strangles from the rear greatly outperform other upper body submissions in success rate. It’s like a perfect storm of submission success. Your opponent has almost no attacks upon you once you settle into rear mount, so you can totally focus on your attacks without distraction. Your opponent cannot simply explode out of the position (especially if you lock a body triangle) as a strong man can sometimes do from mount - he is only going to get out if he KNOWS how to get out - so again, you can focus on your attacks. Lastly, anyone you are behind someone they cannot use pushing strength against you. You must become adept at all strangles - but out the lions share of your strangle training into rear strangles - for they will provide the lions share of your successes.

The strangle is the ultimate weapon in Jiu jitsu

The strangle is the ultimate weapon in Jiu jitsu: Jiu jitsu is the art and science of control that leads to submission. Within the realm of submissions you have two main choices - joint locks and strangles. Both are essential knowledge, both are extremely effective - but if you are ever given a choice - go with the strangle. Strangles take the element of CHOICE out of submission. Whenever you attack a joint your opponent has a choice of whether to submit or not. The higher the stakes - the more likely the choice will be no - I will not submit- and the match will continue. With strangles, their choice becomes irrelevant. If the choice to submit, the match is over. If they choose not to submit - they pass out and the match is over. The choice has no effect on the outcome. In a truly tough match with an opponent who is prepared to reckless with their physical health and safety - The strangle is truly the grapplers equivalent of a knock out punch, while the joint lock is perhaps closer to the notion of a body blow - it causes damage that degrades your opponents ability to fight and thus takes you closer to victory but will not always provide a decisive finish. LEARN YOUR STRANGLES! In your toughest matches they will be your most trustworthy weapon.

Nothing beats a strangle

Nothing beats a strangle: Jiu Jitsu has three major categories of submission attacks - upper body joint locks, lower body joint locks and strangles. All are superb weapons that can end a match in a second, but strangles have a special set of qualities that elevate them over the others. In any joint lock, your opponents choice to tap is exactly that - a choice. If he is fearless he may well decide to let the limb break and continue fighting. In the case of strangles there is not choice - you either submit or pass out - but you don’t get the choice to fight on. In addition, strangles offer offer a flexibility level of intensity to the match. You can apply a strangle in ways that range in intensity all the way from a gentle constraint, to a TKO all the way up to killing someone. Joint locks have no flexibility in their application - it’s all or nothing - it either breaks him or no effect, and even if you break him he may elect to continue fighting. As such, strangles are the ultimate weapon of Jiu jitsu. Work all your submission skills, but set aside special time for your strangle training. Develop a good strangle from the back and one from the front and you will have a weapon that will never let you down. Here, Nicky Rod applies a very tight strangle with perfect head and arm positioning. It’s easy to see the mechanical tightness of the hold and how even in the most competitive matches, this will never let you down.


Variations: For any given move in Jiu jitsu there are many variations. It is crucial for your development that when you find a move that suits you well, you study it deeply and come to know all its variations and how these work together. Only in this way can you exploit the full potential of a given move. Think of the triangle - one of the most commonly seen and effective submissions in the sport. Most people talk about THE triangle - as though there was only one type. In fact you have the front triangle (the most well known and common variant in Jiu jitsu), side triangle, rear triangle, reverse triangle and back to front triangle - and within each of those main variations there are sub variations. Each is well suited to a specific task. Learning to use them together to cover every possible contingency as you grapple is the basis of your path to mastery. Here, Garry Tonon applies a beautiful and shockingly tight sub variant of the front triangle that creates a very tight strangle indeed.