While calling anyone technique new, or someone the inventor of a technique, is likely to start endless debate there are a few techniques that were pulled from obscurity by key figures.
Although he likely was not the first person to use a figure-four shoulder lock, Masahiko Kimura certainly made his namesake submission famous. Likewise, MMA fighter Jason Von Flue is a modern progenitor of a rare, but effective submission known as the Von Flue choke.
This technique turns your opponent’s efforts to attack you against them. Keep reading to see how you can punish your partners for their failed guillotine attempts!
Origins Of The Von Flue Choke
The Von Flue choke may not be steeped in legend and history like the Kimura, but it shares its origins as the deciding factor in many a fight.
While the Von Flue choke gained acclaim for its unorthodox nature, it still was not a widely used technique in Jiu Jitsu or MMA. That is still mostly true today but the choke has seen a revival and, arguably, a reinvention in its usage. UFC fighter Ovince Saint Preux has since used the choke three times to win his fights. In fact, fans have taken to referring to the submission as the Von Preux choke.
Mechanics of the Von Flue Choke
One of the most important mechanical distinctions for understanding the Von Flue choke is that it is extremely contextual; the choke only works from a single position.
Granted, a submission that places the shoulder into the neck to achieve a choke can occur from multiple positions. However, the Von Flue choke, as has been demonstrated in its rare usage, has a specific set up and finish that makes it what it is.
The set up for the technique will place you in a position that, aside from a few key differences, is your typical top side control. From there, the Von Flue choke requires the immobilization of your opponent’s far arm to prevent them from reducing your pressure. This immobilization usually occurs as they hold onto your head from bottom side,most commonly from an earlier guillotine attempt.
Once you have the far arm trapped, begin to shift your weight onto your shoulder closest to your opponent’s neck. To ensure that your pressure is on the right spot, your arm should be under their head, which will create a vice on either side of their head. You can sprawl or even flip your hips over so that your stomach is facing up, to increase the pressure of the choke.
Getting The Choke
The catalyst for your Von Flue attempt will always be the same; your opponent will try to finish a failed guillotine from the bottom of side control. There are essentially two instances why your opponent might do this.
A Stubborn Opponent:
You will generally see this in your inexperienced BJJ players but it isn’t unheard of in MMA either. If you shoot a double leg takedown on your opponent and they manage to set up a guillotine, they may insist on holding onto the submission.
If you manage to sweep their legs out of the way or pass their guard during the takedown you’ll end up on top of side control. Many times an inexperienced or stubborn opponent will refuse to let go of the head, thinking it will provide them an advantage or escape opportunity. This will give you the perfect opportunity for the Von Flue.
While Avoiding Hits:
In an MMA context, it makes a little more sense to hold onto your opponent’s head from bottom side. Taking away a top opponent’s ability to move reduces their power and ability to punch.
However sound the logic might be, the opportunity for the top player still remains the same. The Von Flue choke remains available as long as the far arm is immobilized.
Oftentimes, as you begin to add pressure to your opponent’s neck they will realize holding your head was an error and try to remove your shoulder. Be sure to keep their arm around your head.
Perhaps the simplest way to maintain their arm position is to grab your opponent’s wrist and keep it pressed in its original position. Or, you can extend your arm out and hug over your opponent’s arm.
As long as you have adequately trapped their arm, you do not need to rush this choke. Let gravity and good positioning do the work. Make slight adjustments as needed, ensuring your weight is being driven into their neck.
Von Flue Choke Finishes In MMA and BJJ
Here we see the Von Flue used in Bellator by Chad George to put his opponent to sleep. Notice how George changes the height and position of his hips to further drive his shoulder into his opponent’s neck. This match is an illustration of just how much the opponent actually traps themselves in the position.
Here we see a variation of what we can still call the Von Flue choke, as the actual choking mechanics remain the same. We see another high level athlete, Ryan Hall, put to sleep, which speaks to the quick effectiveness of the choke.
Ovince Saint Preux has become the new poster child of the Von Flue choke. He has used it three times to win in the UFC.
The Von Flue choke is a rare technique that has gained traction through its high profile usage, most notably in MMA. While it is an effective choke, it has fairly specific parameters for its setup and cannot be easily forced.
Most commonly, the start of the Von Flue choke is due to your opponent’s refusal to let go of a guillotine. While there are not many examples of the Von Flue choke being used, the few times it has been used successfully have led to some spectacular finishes in the cage.
Jeremy is brown belt and has a Bachelor’s degree in journalism, but he also enjoys creative writing. Originally from Connecticut, where he began his 11 years of Jiu Jitsu training.