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Artechoke in a Can: Finishing the Rear Naked Choke

Thus far, we have discussed at great length taking the back, and though we’ve spent some time covering some often ignored back take opportunities, we have yet to really scratch the surface. For the most part, we have focused primarily on the arm drag as a means to making the transition to a back mount position. We will return to covering back take opportunities next week, but I wanted to cover finishing from the back before then so that my students can get repetitions on getting the finish as we make that progression (rather than ending the back take module with finishes, leaving no real opportunity for in-class practice).

Finishing from the back is your ultimate goal when you dedicate your game to back takes, but it can be very frustrating. Yes, you can use the back to set up arm locks or to set up arm triangles, but the most reliable attack from the back position is the rear naked choke. Yet, it can be the hardest to get because your opponent knows exactly what you want when you set your hooks. Today, we explore some basic techniques for setting and finish the rear naked choke in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

In reality, sets up for the rear naked choke are rarely fancy or elaborate. They often hinge on timing, patience, and grip fighting. Let me emphasize the patience part. You should not burn your arms out hunting for the finish. Take your time, rely on your back maintence techniques, and be methodical and calculated. If you gas your biceps out squeezing for a choke that isn’t there, you will miss the real opportunity to end the fight when it arises.

In this first video, we explore the basics of entering and finishing the rear naked choke, focusing on some key details that you might be missing, like using your chin to make your choking arm stronger as you make the transition to locking the choke and using your free hand to punch through the hand fight. The rear naked choke is a game of millimeters, so these details are important.

In the next technique, we look at some details for breaking basic grips and increasing our chances of catching the neck rather than the chin when we snap our arm up for the choke. The trick here is our wrist positioning. Rather than go thumbs up, making our wrist flat agaisnt our opponent’s chest, try pointing your thumb into your opponent’s chest to make your wrist perpendicular, so the flat side is showing to their chin. This makes ratcheting your wrist in much easier. Note the way I use the hand peel to get this process started as well.

For the last technique, we continue the grip troubleshooting discussion with an application of the free hook concept. Way back when we first looked at maintaining the back, I empasized that the top hook was not mandatory for control, that it could be removed and used as a tool for helping you maintain and finish from the back. This is an example of what I meant. I can use that top hook to isolate one of my opponent’s arms, taking it out of the game so that I have one less hand to fight as I attack the neck. Pay careful attention to how I make the transfer from controlling his wrist to gripping my own ankle. It’s a simple movement, but a lot of people miss it.

Next week, we will look at strategies for troubleshooting a failed arm drag. From there, we will launch into other opportunities to take the back, like from switches, kimuras, armbars, and from mount. Are you sick of taking the back yet? You shouldn’t be. It’s awesome.

Artechoke in a Can is the online version of Marshal D. Carper’s weekly no-gi class. Marshal is a purple belt under Sonny Achille at Steel City Martial Arts in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and he is the author of The Cauliflower Chronicles and Marcelo Garcia’s Advanced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Techniques.

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