The triangle choke is one of the most recognizable things about Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, ever since the Gracies first used it to strangle people while laying on their backs. The submission has evolved significantly since then, with plenty of setups now available. This is one of the best triangle setups out there. Our instructor for the day is UFC heavyweight fighter, former champion, and Jiu Jitsu specialist Fabricio Werdum. And, he knows a thing or two about triangle chokes.
Triangle Choke Mechanics
The triangle choke works so effectively because it is a mechanical masterpiece. When you come to look at it, it involves the strongest part of our body, our legs against the neck and posture, which are relatively weak. Moreover, it has strong strangling mechanics, shoving the opponent’s own shoulder on one side into the carotid artery, and one of your thighs on the other. A wedge closure system of the legs provide the move into just with its recognizable form, but an even more superior mechanics.
When it comes to finishing the triangle choke, there are several different ways of achieving it. For full disclosure, there are also several different types of triangles, depending on body position and angle. The most used one though is the front triangle, which is where our focus lies today.
A closed triangle choke has one of your legs under the armpit on one side, and the other over the opposite side shoulder. The first thing to focus on is having the shin of the leg over the shoulder run parallel to the shoulders. This means that to finish a triangle, you should always aim to touch your head to the opponent’s hips on the side of the choking leg.
Next, the myth about the trapped arm. Despite many claiming that you have to cross the arm across your body to finish, this is not the case. As long as the shoulder is trapped, you can finish regardless of arm position.
A final tip that really accentuates the triangle choke’s mechanical dominance is pulling the head. However, instead of pulling the head towards your crotch, as many people do, it is much more efficient to pull to the side, forcing the neck into the thigh of your leg. The artery you’re trying to compress is there anyway, so why not place more direct pressure?
The Werdum Triangle Choke
The Werdum triangle choke is the result of a high-level back belt’s decade long experience in grappling and fighting. It’s particularly effective if there are strikes involved because of the distance from which Fabricio likes to set it up. While most triangle setups involve people completely or slightly postured up, this one works when the opponent on top of you is lying chest to chest.
Given that Werdum has used it on multiple occasions inside the cage, including to finish Fedor Emelianenko, this is a setup we can’t recommend highly enough.
Entering the triangle choke, Werdum-style will have you start in a position of safety. In terms of MMA, the opponent’ won’t be able to strike you, whereas, in terms of BJJ, they’ll be far from a guard passing position.
It all starts with a posture break, by bringing your knee to your chest when in the closed guard. The goal is to have the opponent lying on top of you so that you can establish grips. The first grip is with an arm going over the shoulder on one side, and gripping the lat muscle on the other. Basically, it runs similarly to the shin in the triangle choke.
The other grip is what provides you with total security and a triangle choke entry option. To get it, you first need to hip escape, getting the first grip deeper and acquiring a better angle. Now, grab the wrist of the free arm and get your shin in, trapping the arm, and making sure strikes are no longer a danger.
This position allows you to easily sneak the leg that has biceps control over the shoulder, perfect for a triangle. What is even better is that the arm gripping the lat muscle is there to help guide it towards the submission position.
Werdum likes to use an old-school type fo finish for his triangle choke, with a secret little detail weaved in. For starters, the moment he locks the triangle, he immediately looks to get the arm across. For the finish he is about to use, having the arm crossed is optimal. Getting the arm across is extremely easy, just raise your hips adit will tart to slide there on its own.
A key detail to keep the triangle choke position and get ta tap is that Werdum hugs his own knee next. It is the knee of the choking leg. This allows three things to happen. First of all, it makes the choke tighter. Second, it prevents the opponent from posturing up, going into triangle choke escapes.
Finally, the key “trick”. Hugging the knee allows Werdum to get a tilt, which won’t only help with the choke but offers a safety option as well. If the triangle doesn’t work (and there’s no reason why it won’t), all ti takes is putting your knees to the ground to end up on top. That means sweep and mount points, as well as a fully locked mounted triangle choke!