More notes from my brabo choke homework.

Thinking Like It’s a Triangle

This may seem obvious to you, but it took me a while think of the brabo as a triangle choke. Yeah, I knew literally that it’s an arm triangle — that’s not what I mean. I had a “just slap it on” attitude towards it, where I’d give up if I didn’t hit it in one shot, which isn’t how I think about the triangle choke with the legs. With that move, I know to be patient while I work towards my ultimate goal, fixing several points at once: maintaining position, breaking their posture, getting the correct angle, getting the proper contact with their neck, working to close the full figure-four, crossing their arm, etc. You have multiple simultaneous objectives, and which one you’re working on changes depending on its importance and how well they’re defending it.

Once I started looking at the brabo along similar lines, it started clicking more and my success rate with it has gone way up. The main points I fleshed out were 1) how to get the arm triangle tight using progressive grips, 2) how to cross their arm and 3) how to apply finishing pressure.

First, I want to go over the idea of using a series of grips to work towards tightening and closing the final choke.

I’m big on giving people credit if they gave me ideas or teach me. I didn’t come up with any of these grips, but I did collect them from scattered resources and put them together. If you’re been following my brabo choke homework, you know the usual suspects for my inspiration/plagarism, so I don’t feel like re-re-recrediting them again here. It gets tiring to have to keep citing sources, but it’s a habit since people go “HURR RIGAN DID THAT FIRST” if I don’t. Or if I do. Doesn’t really make a difference.


Let’s start off. Assume we’re joining a brabo already in progress. They are trying to escape side control with an underhook, and I’ve whizzered my arm in for the brabo.

Notice how I lay my head on them like I’m listening to their shoulder. This helps me drop my shoulder and reach deeper. I want to get my hand all the way to the back of their neck. If I don’t have my whole fist seeing the light of day, I won’t be able to get the choke.

An important detail you’ll see in the photos below is how I keep pressure and weight on them so they can’t get to their elbow. They need to post on that elbow before they can get up. While I want them turned on their side enough to exposure their head and arm, I don’t want them to turn to all fours, since they have a better chance of taking me down or escaping then.

Progressive Grips

You hopefully won’t need to use all of these grips to get the choke. You can usually skip ahead if you’ve got good timing and are quick, but I think the best way to approach a subject like this is to work from worst cases scenarios. Some of these grips are stronger than others, but each has its time and use. Each grip has the purpose of cranking their head in and bending their neck (or at least prevent them from straightening it any further).

Pulling the Head

This is one of the weaker grips but it’s also often one of the easiest to grab right away, particularly if you already had a crossface. It’s not very good for forcing their head in, but it’ll prevent them from stretching away too far. It’s also useful for maintaining control and contact if they start trying to bring their knee into your hips and stretch you out (like in z-guard) since you can reach farther with it.

Stuffing the Head

By rotating your palm on the back of their head, you can switch to one of the strongest grips. Shove their head in like you’re trying to stuff it down to their hips. You can really cram their head in with this one.

Trog showed me how he was taught to use this grip to pass half guard by sprawling until their legs open and walking around. I can understand why, since it feels to me like the most pressure on the neck.

Darce Grip

Keeping constant pressure, slide from your palm to pushing with your wrist and grab a palm-to-palm grip. This is the famous D’arce grip. It offers a lot of control without being tiring to maintain. Scissor your forearms together and pinch your elbows. Pull their head towards you like you’re trying to shuck it under you.

Short Man’s Brabo

From the darce, you can shoot your outside arm through and grab your wrist and forearm. Keep your elbow in tight so you don’t give them room to pop their head out. You can use this to crank their head in as you slide your hand up your forearm towards your biceps. You can also use your outside hand to grab their shoulder and prevent them from getting up or (if they do get to their elbow) grabbing their triceps and breaking it down so they fall on their side again.

Shove and Uppercut

One of my goals is to get the crook of my elbow tight to their adam’s apple and my forearm along the side of their neck. It’ll neck crank them more if I don’t get that deep since it’ll just be my forearm crushing their throat or muscles.

As I’m progressing through all of these grips, I am constantly trying to shove my choking arm deeper and deeper. The motion is like doing an uppercut as I drop my shoulder. You can see this in the above photo. I’m doing it while I shove the back of the head. This is my favorite time to uppercut since I feel I can get really deep, but you can do it (to greater and lesser degrees) while holding any other grip. Try to do it any time you can, but the best times are right as and right after you’ve cranked their head in. In the moment it takes from them to try to straighten out again, you can shove and wiggle your arm through a little more.

Finishing Grip

Once you’ve got your choking arm deep enough, you should be able to put your wrist in the crook of your elbow. Your palm and fingers should actually reach around to the back of your triceps. If you’re only just grabbing your biceps with your hand, you’re more likely to have the grip break or slip off, and you can actually hurt your fingers. It also probably means you didn’t get the choke tight enough.

Your outside hand reaches up and grabs their top shoulder as high as it can. My personal trick for making sure I’m doing this right is to try to bring my hand up until I can put my chin on it. Doubt the chin really helps but it feels proper.

That’s it for now. The next point I’ll go over crossing the arm.