The Ultimate Body Triangle Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Last updated on 16.05.2023 by

A body triangle in BJJ is one of the strongest and most controlling positions within grappling. It’s great to use, but miserable if you’ve ever been stuck in one.

That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate body triangle guide. Everything you need to know about body triangles is detailed below, from how to use and defend against them.

What is a Body Triangle in Grappling? 

For those of you that are new to Jiu Jitsu, let’s explain what a body triangle is. A body triangle is a controlling position, where you triangle your legs around an opponent’s body.

One of your legs goes across your body, and you lock your foot under your other knee. It’s usually used when someone has their opponent’s back and is looking for a choke. A body triangle can also be done from the guard, but isn’t used as much.  

This position provides a lot of control, which is why many top grapplers use it when they take an opponent’s back. 

How to Perform the Body Triangle

A body triangle is fairly easy to get to, but there are a lot of details to make your control stronger. Read below on how to perform the body triangle.

How to do the Body Triangle from the Back 

The most common place that you’ll see a body triangle used is from a back mount. Before you can even think about going for a body triangle, you have to establish control over your opponent’s body.

You have to first establish a body lock with your arms, called a seatbelt grip. One arm goes over your opponent’s arm, while your other arm goes under their other arm. Your arms then lock together at your opponent’s chest like a seatbelt.

After establishing your seatbelt grip, you can then go into getting your body triangle. Start off by falling to the side of your arm that’s over your opponent’s shoulder. This gives you the space to get the body triangle, while also setting up a tighter choke.

Now, with you on your side, take your outside foot and place it on your opponent’s hip. You’ll now have the space to bring your inside leg across your opponent’s body.

Remember to bring your leg across until your foot clears your opponent’s hip. From here, wrap the back of your outside knee over your ankle and you have a body triangle lock.

The Body Triangle from Guard 

The body triangle guard is a technique that not many uses, and for probably a good reason. Triangling your legs together in closed guard can have severe consequences. 

One of the most common of those consequences is a nasty calf slicer that opens up from this body lock. All your opponent has to do to lock it in is step over your top leg, trap your foot and drive in.

It’s horrible to get caught in, and the slicer comes on quickly.

Body Triangle Submission

A body triangle is generally used to put more pressure on your opponent during chokes. As you’re setting up a choke, you’re using your legs to compress your opponent’s body. Much like how a snake does to kill their prey.

They’re great to use with RNC’s and cross collar chokes from the back. You can even make some opponent’s tap just by squeezing them with your body triangle.

That is why a lot of grapplers prefer to use the body triangle to put more pressure on their opponents.

The Body Triangle vs. Hooks 

When you take back mount on an opponent, you’re going to use one of two forms of control. Either getting your hooks in or using a body triangle before attempting a choke or armlock.

What are hooks?

Hooks are the form of control in back mount, where your feet are hooked to the inside of your opponent’s thighs. While your feet against your opponent’s thighs, you’re also pressing your legs against their body. It’s the traditional and most used version of back control.

Which Back Control Earns You Points?

Unfortunately, in just about every jiu jitsu federation in the world, points for back mount are awarded only for leg hooks. You must have two leg hooks and control of your opponent’s body to be awarded points for back mount.

Body triangles are still used, but a referee will not award you points for getting this control. That’s why you should always get your hooks first to earn points and then grab a body triangle.

How to Escape a Body Triangle?

If you’ve grappled for any amount of time, then you’ve probably been stuck in a body triangle. It is a truly awful experience that your lungs are caving in as you’re getting chokes.

That is why knowing how to escape a body triangle is a must-know in Jiu Jitsu and grappling. Here are the details you must remember for how to escape a body triangle.

Types of Body Triangle Escapes

The types of body triangle escapes that you’ll use depends on how they hold the position. They can hold the body triangle four different ways, which means you have four different escape options.

Neutralize the Position

For whichever body triangle variation your opponent may have, the first step is always the same. That is to neutralize the position.

You can just reach down and try to unlock the body triangle, or you’ll get choked. That is why you first have to address the threat of the choke.

Block your opponent’s choke hand with your far hand by getting a thumb-in grip on their hand/wrist.

Unlock the Body Triangle 

Once you have defended the possible choke, you can then use your secondary hand to unlock the body triangle. Turn your body to create space between your opponent’s hip and the floor, and place your secondary arm in the space.

Doing this keeps your opponent from hiding their top foot when you go to step over their leg. Turn your hips to the floor to allow yourself to step over your opponent’s leg.

From there, take your secondary hand and grab your opponent’s top foot. They’ll try to readjust their triangle, but you’ll step over their bottom leg.

You now have control of your opponent’s top foot and also their bottom foot that’s between your legs. All you do now is angle your hips out, take off the choke hand, finish the escape.

Watch Gordon Ryan show his body triangle escape method that he shot with BJJ Fanatics.

Prevent the Body Triangle from Closing

You’ve already messed up if you’re wondering how to keep the body triangle from closing, but here’s a defense for it. Once your opponent has taken your back, you have to act quickly.

Stay centered on your opponent’s chest and don’t let them turn you on your side. You then have to grab your opponent’s choke hand with two hands, bring it over your head and turn into them.

Final Thoughts

Body triangles can be an effective weapon in your arsenal, but you also need to know how to defend them. Knowing both will allow you to attack more effectively from the back, and knowing how to escape the control.