As it is, I am who I am … which means I’m looking at a picture of a triangle choke.
I have been relatively successful at defending a number of attacks—mata leao, armlocks, collar chokes—from a number of different opponents, many of whom have significantly better skills than me. At the same time, I have had an amazing ability to fall prey to triangle choke attacks from opponents who, by most measures, are often not as skilled as I am.
Why? As Casey warned me months and months ago, my posture in the guard is terrible. I suspect it is because, in my head, I am “on top” and part of being “on top” is being “over” your opponent. This means I have a tendency to lean over the guy when I am in his guard. While there are some physical attributes (read: tight quads) that are contributing to the problem, it really amounts to little more than a very, very bad and costly habit. As I’ve told people, I’ve lost four fights in competition and all of them are attributably directly to my poor posture in the guard
So there’s that. And there is no more severe penalty for poor in-guard posture than getting submitted by triangle choke. While I need to get better at not getting in the bad posture position in the first place, I might as well remind myself of how to attack the triangle choke.
- 1. Turn your head to face the choking leg or your free arm. This will take much of the pressure off the choke because now your artery is between his pelvis and his calf rather than between your own bicep and his thigh.
- 2. Whichever escape/counter you’re going to use, posture up and step up with the leg that is on the same side as the trapped arm. For me, this almost always means stepping up with my right leg since it is usually my right arm that gets trapped. Whatever you do, DO NOT step up with the opposite leg. This will allow the guy to underhook that leg and swing his body around to get perpendicular to your body and get an excruciatingly good angle on your neck.
UPDATE: The step up leg is determined by the kind of escape. If you are using C.C. Grinder, then all of the above is true: step up with the leg that is on the same side as the trapped arm. However, if you are using the Midget Slam escape, then you must step up with the opposite leg.
You have to do this because you need the leverage of that opposite leg in order to help posture up out of the Midget Slam. You can't do this if you step up with the trapped side leg. You don't have to worry about your opposite leg being underhooked because when you dive down into the Midget Slam, you actually block the guy from being able to reach under and underhook that opposite leg.
- 3. Use your free hand to control his hip and keep it in place. You want to work your hips toward the trapped arm side. Whatever else you do with your arms (Midget Slam or CC Grinder), circling your body around toward the trapped arm side will make it easier to put pressure on his legs. Circling in the other direction will get you choked out.
- 4. Move! Move! Move! Almost nobody hits a triangle choke perfectly on first effort. The sooner you begin attacking it, the more likely they are to get a poor triangle that is more easily defeated. The longer you wait, the more they can arrange their legs to get the lock in properly. As soon as you feel the triangle coming, posture up. If your posture is already broken, then turn your head on your side (facing away from the trapped arm), and move into either the Midget Slam (opposite leg step up) or the C.C. Grinder escape (trap side leg step up).