How To Set Up A Guillotine Choke In Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Rener Gracie best described the love/hate relationship that people have with guillotine chokes when he compared the submission to sushi.

As strange as that may sound, Gracie was making a point that some people love sushi and eat plenty of it, while there is also a group of people who don’t enjoy sushi and therefore eat none of it.

If you have had success with the guillotine before, it’s likely you have continued to look for the submission during your rolls and have been finishing the choke accordingly. However, if you have tried the choke a couple of times and had no success, you might believe that guillotine chokes just aren’t for you.

No matter if you are a lover or hater of the guillotine choke, this article is for you. By the end, hopefully, everyone will have some excellent new ways to transition to the submission.

Today, Evolve Vacation brings you “How To Set Up A Guillotine Choke”.

The Guillotine Choke

Before getting started, it’s important to understand the basic concepts of this choke.

In the video at the very bottom of this article, Rener Gracie shares a three-step method that should be followed in order to execute the perfect guillotine choke: collect, connect, and compress. Essentially, the objective is to collect the head, connect the bodies, and then compress to finish the submission. Simple, right?

Unfortunately, however, people protect their necks, and therefore it is never easy to just grab a guillotine choke. Like all submissions, the guillotine choke becomes even more difficult when your opponent is aware of what you are trying to achieve. Therefore, the submission is most often finished during quick scrambles or transitions and is reflective of an opportunistic choke, rather than one that is a result of careful game planning such as getting to the back and taking the rear-naked choke.

If you need to brush up on the basics of a guillotine choke, please review the “How To Do A Basic Guillotine Choke” by Evolve University above.

We won’t cover all of the different variations of the guillotine choke today because we will instead be focusing on finding creative and consistent ways to lock up your opponent’s neck. That means 10-finger guillotines, high-elbow guillotines, arm-in guillotines and pretzel-grip guillotines will not be explained in detail, but they might be in future articles.


Guillotine Choke Setup From Standing Clinch (Snap Down)

Welcome to snap down city.

In the video above, Garry Tonon demonstrates and explains a brilliant high-elbow guillotine choke variation that begins from a standing clinch position.

The setup begins from the standing clinch position in which the attacker has secured a single collar tie with the right hand. Once secured, the attacker can then dig for a short underhook with their left hand. Rather than reaching for a deep underhook, the arm slides through to grab and control the back of the shoulder. The attacker should also slide their collar tie grip up toward the crown of the head because that position has significantly better leverage than gripping the back of the neck.

From here, it is common for the attacker to snap down and force their opponent to turtle. This variation, however, will focus on securing the guillotine choke and finishing the submission all in the one transition.

With the single collar tie and left underhook, the attacker can step back and pull their opponent down into the space that has just been created. When the body has been snapped down to below your shoulder height, you can then reach up and over the back of their neck to achieve the position for a guillotine choke. Remember to apply heavy pressure to the back of their head with your shoulder so that they can not posture upward and escape your hard-earned position.

With this grip, you can now snap your opponent down to the mat and into a turtle-like position. From here, you can use the hand that is cupped on the chin to attack a guillotine choke.

Watch Tonon’s video above to understand how to correctly set up this guillotine choke from a standing clinch position.


Guillotine Choke Setup From Sprawling (Marcelotine)

At UFC 189, Matt Brown submitted Tim Means with an excellent variation of the guillotine choke after sprawling and defending the takedown attempt of Means.

The first setup that we discussed was the guillotine choke from a standing position. This time, we will focus on a guillotine choke when you have sprawled and defended a takedown attempt.

The video above explains the ‘Marcelotine’ setup that Matt Brown used at UFC 189 in the video above.

Very simply, this setup relies on excellent takedown defense and sprawl ability. If you defend the takedown and apply heavy top pressure to the center of your opponent’s back, you have a brief moment to attempt this choke.

If you want to attack with a guillotine choke that can be finished on either side, you can place both hands in the chinstrap position and use your shoulder to apply pressure to the back of your opponent’s head. Lift up on the neck of your opponent and they will start to feel a choking force that will then make them react by sitting backward and upward. The goal isn’t to choke them right now, but to make them create enough space for you to slide into a position of control.

Once they have reacted to your chinstrap and choking motion, you can then slide one of your legs under and through to block their far hip with your foot and rest your shin against their body for ultimate control. Your other leg will come over the top and pinch their body down in a modified version of a guard.

You can then finish this choke using a high-elbow and a deadlift-like motion with your body once securing your desired finishing grip.


Guillotine Choke Setup From The Back

Garry Tonon shares yet another impressive setup for a guillotine choke that begins from traditional back control.

This one is a little more advanced than the earlier two choke setups, but it is extremely fascinating and an excellent tool to have in your game.

Once you have secured back control with a seatbelt, it is more than likely you will attempt to reach across for your opponent’s far shoulder with your choking arm to begin looking for the rear-naked choke. Your opponent could defend by lifting the choking arm upward and over their head, which would essentially remove the choking arm from a dangerous position. However, this is exactly the move that Tonon has developed a wicked counter guillotine choke for.

Tonon explains that you can then connect your choking hand with the same-side knee. If you have trouble reaching for the knee, you can base out with your other arm and lift your hips up enough to connect your hand and knee. You can then follow through to a standing position while maintaining this grip.

As seen in the video above, you are already in position to finish the guillotine choke. However, it is best to wait for them to turn into you so that you can anticipate the move and secure full guard. With a tight guillotine choke grip and full guard, there’s no stopping your choke – especially if you have mastered the finishing grips.

Watch Rener Gracie’s “Guillotine Mastery Seminar” below to really improve your guillotine chokes and make sure you finish these three setups.


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