For many beginners in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts, guillotine chokes are a favored submission. As practitioners advance, they focus on smaller details that tighten the submission and generate a higher rate of success. Like improving quickly in BJJ overall, the guillotine requires attention to detail and purposeful training to become a reliable attack. With time, the technique can submit heavier, stronger, and larger opponents. The high elbow guillotine variation is especially useful as it negates many of the common defenses employed against regular guillotines. Below are three essential details used by elite fighters to transform the high-elbow guillotine into a deadly weapon.
1. Wrist Between Shoulder and Neck. When locking up the high-elbow guillotine, your wrists needs to rest between the opponent’s shoulder and neck. John Danaher, the coach of the infamous Danaher death squad, describes the detail as critical. Keeping your clasped hands within the designated area ensures the opponent cannot twist his head around to elevate pressure in the initial stages of the choke. An early goal of the high elbow guillotine should be to control the distance between your bodies enough to connect your hands in the ideal location. Once the you have locked the grip into place between the shoulder and neck, you can began applying torque.
2. Head on far shoulder. Instead of placing your head over the shoulder where your hands are clasped, Garry Tonen advocates moving your head over to the far shoulder. Garry Tonen has successfully applied high elbow guillotines in both the highest level grappling tournaments and in One Championship MMA fights. Moving your head over realigns your body positioning relative to your opponents. The adjustment allows you to sink the choke in deeper without relying on arm strength.
3. Squeezing your armpit. Finish the submission by folding the elbow of your choking arm against your side and squeezing your armpit. Scott Epstein, a 10th planet black belt known for his neck-attack combinations, stresses the importance of this detail. By focusing on the armpit and elbow in a sideways crunch, you engage the powerful latissimus dorsi muscled along your sides. As the largest muscle in your upper body, the latissimus dorsi can generate fare more strength than your arms with minimal effort.
Simply wrapping your arm around someone’s neck and wrenching backwards can submit a less skillful or considerably smaller opponent. But when combined with these essential details, the high elbow guillotine becomes a fare more reliable submission option. While live sparring, concentrate on implementing these three important way-markers one-by-one until they become muscle memory. By adopting an advanced grappling mindset and exploring the ‘why’ behind each movement, you can greatly increase your submission rate.