What is the most satisfying submission that you can pull off in BJJ? Well, every submission is satisfying, but tapping someone out when they think they’re in a position of total control is as sweet a victory as they come!
That is precisely what the Buggy choke offers – allowing you to catch people just when they think they have you right where they want! Keep reading to add this sneaky attack from bottom side control to your arsenal!
The Best Defense is a Good Offense
This statement is debatable to a certain extent, but if you look at high level competition you’ll see it rings true more often than not. Whenever you are stuck in a difficult position, attacking rather than going for an all-out defense generally provides you with much better results.
Let’s say, for example, you’re caught in a leg lock battle. You could try to get out the usual way, preventing the grips and dismantling the Ashi Garami. Alternatively, you could start working a counter leg locking game, one which will actually cause your opponent to run away, abandoning their submission. Or tap. The latter is obviously our preference!
Another example of such a proactive way of defending is using the Von Flue Choke to counter a tight guillotine choke.
One bad position that offers quite a few direct counterattacks via submissions is bottom-side control, and what I consider to be the best among those attacks is the Buggy choke.
How to do the Buggy Choke
In order to do the Buggy choke, you first need to understand how a triangle choke works.
For a triangle choke, regardless of whether it’s a leg triangle or arm triangle, you need to make sure that you have one part of your body (an arm or leg, usually) pressing directly against their neck with the goal of compressing their carotid artery on that side.
The pressure on the other side of their neck comes via their own shoulder, being crammed into their artery. This is the defining trait of every triangle choke out there – direct pressure on the neck on one side, and indirect pressure on the other.
In terms of a leg triangle, one side of the neck is covered with your hamstring, while your knee on the other side pushes their shoulder into their neck on the other side.
With an arm triangle you have your biceps directly on the opponent’s neck on one side, and your collar bone pushing into the shoulder on the other side to force it into the neck.
The Buggy choke is basically a combination between a leg and arm triangle choke. From the bottom side control, you will need one of your opponent’s arms in a specific position in order to have access to their shoulder. That is the arm that the top person has near your hips. As long as you get them to put it across your body (which they often do) you can set the Buggy choke up.
The goal is to reach with one of your arms (usually the one closer to the opponent’s head) and place it around the knee of your own leg on the same side (i.e. left arm hugs behind your left knee.) Here’s an example:
Setting up the Buggy Choke
Let’s talk about setups in order to help you understand the mechanics of the choke better. Knowing that you are using a triangle choke is the first, and most important step. That said, there are variations to the choke that you can use in order to maximize your success with it.
When someone has top side control on you, one thing that they often do automatically is place an arm under your head, and an arm over your waist. By doing this they have set themselves up for the Buggy choke, leaving their far shoulder (near your waist) exposed.
Your initial movement is to turn towards your opponent. They will likely react and try to keep you pinned down, but your goal is not to buck them off, rather to place your armpit on their neck. That is the point of your direct pressure on their carotid artery on one side.
In order to get their shoulder into the opposite side carotid, you’ll need to use your leg. The positioning of their arm already made it easy for you to drive the thigh into the opponent’s armpit.
The trickiest part here, which also happens to be the key, is how to lock up your arm and your leg together. Your first order of business is to touch your elbow to your knee while lying on your side facing the opponent.
As they put pressure to get you down with your back to the mats, you use the space that opens up to thread your arm under the knee, like going for an uppercut. Clasping your hands together helps solidify the position.
You could also go for the Buggy choke with the opposite side arm and leg. Obviously, setting it up this way will require you to turn to the other side, i.e. away from your opponent. The setup is similar to the first, the only key difference being you’re looking to grab your own foot with the arm doing the choke, rather than going for a palm-to-palm grip.
Finishing the Submission
Getting to the Buggy choke position is not overly difficult, but it can be a challenge to finish it against experienced grapplers. There are several details that will significantly increase your success rate.
Pulling behind the knee with your arm is often uncomfortable, and might even put your own knee at risk. One way to mitigate this is to triangle your legs after you thread the arm through and do the uppercut motion. This will ensure a tighter fit and help you keep the knee out of danger.
Another thing to consider is “plugging the hole.” By that, I mean taking away as much of the space that exists in between the opponent’s neck and your body parts attempting to squeeze it. Doing the uppercut motion, triangling your legs, and getting a palm-to-palm grip all help tighten the choke.
A defining moment in finishing this choke is to slightly curl your body sideways, so that your lats project into the opponent’s neck. This will definitely help you get more Buggy choke taps.
How do you defend the Buggy Choke?
Now that we’ve looked at how to finish the buggy choke, let’s turn this around and examine defending the buggy choke.
Early on, it is all about triangle choke defense – get your elbow of the arm that is across their waist as far towards the hips as possible (move it away from their head). This will relieve the pressure on that side of your neck. Moving your head forward to the other side, making even more space between your own shoulder and your neck.
Later on, your best bet is to try and break the opponent’s posture by using the free arm to go around their head and push it towards your legs with your elbow. Combining this with the previous defense will make it very difficult for the bottom person to finish.
Honorable Mention: A Crazy Double Buggy Choke
Just a few months ago, during a 10th Planet CJJ Qualifiers Tournament, a couple of competitors both decided to go for the Buggy choke on each other.
As one guy set it up quite deep from bottom side control, the other decided to sit up onto his knees, before ending up with his back on the ground. This seemed to spare him the tap, but also opened up the option for him to tie up a Buggy choke of his own.
For a very short while, both guys had the choke on, before the first one to set it up, now finding himself on top, let go, and eventually tapped.
The Buggy choke is one move to consider to get you out of all your bottom-side control trouble. It is the cheat code to help you escape the position, either by making the top person run from you like fire or by making them tap. As proven by the Ruotolo brothers, this choke works at the highest levels of Jiu Jitsu.
Ogi is a black belt that does Jiu Jitsu full time and is very passionate about anything grappling-related.
He is also the head coach of Enso Jiu Jitsu in Macedonia and an aspiring Globetrotter.