8 Alternative Finishes from the Triangle Choke Position in BJJ

Updated on June 13, 2016
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Andrew Smith is a 3rd degree BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, VA (Revolution BJJ). He runs the BJJ Tutorial Encyclopedia here.

Triangle Problems!

Ever catch a triangle on someone, and then you're just unable to finish the triangle choke for whatever reason? Maybe your partner has a super thick neck, or maybe they just don't seem to have any carotid arteries (or maybe your legs are shorter). What can you do?

Never fear! The triangle position is here. It's time to start thinking of the triangle as not only a submission, but also as a place from which you can finish a plethora of arm attacks. What follows are the highest percentage attacks on the upper body once you've caught the triangle position, but can't (or don't want to) finish the choke.

Attacking the arm outside of the triangle

So you've got the triangle locked in, but you aren't able to get the finish. Almost immediately, you can start to work on the far arm, or the arm that's outside of the triangle. In the videos, I'm attacking my partner's left arm during this first part. Here, there are two basic attacks concepts: straight and bent armbars, and within those two, there are additional attacks.

  • First, with your right hand, control your partner's left wrist. Look to flare their elbow out with your left hand, reaching over to open up their elbow. This is the "cheesy Kimura" finish.
  • Next up, just allow your left hand to thread through, closing the Kimura grip, just like setting this up from scissor half guard bottom.
  • Finally, if your partner straightens their arm out, you can just hit a reverse armbar by pinching their wrist behind your right ear, and applying inward pressure with your hands on top of your partner's elbow to get the hyper-extending pressure.

Attacking the arm inside the triangle

Similarly, if your partner is doing a good job of preventing you from getting to the outside arm, you have a number of attacks you can hit on the inside arm. These are going to be incredibly low risk, as opposed to the classic switch to the straight armbar by throwing your leg over, so go for these first!

  • If their right arm is caught in the triangle, reach over with your left hand to go palm-to-palm with your partner, shaking hands like Arnold Schwarzenegger does with "Dillon" in Predator. From here, reinforce the grip with your left hand, and bring your partner's palm to their face. Now focus on bringing their thumb to the ground, applying tremendous pressure on their shoulder. You can also lift your hips up if you need to.
  • Using the same exact grip, when your partner straightens their arm, bring their knuckles to your chest and then slowly lift your hips up. Note that this is a much tighter armlock than a traditional juji-gatame style armbar, so go easy on your partner until you figure out the pressure involved. Additionally, most straight armbars involve bringing your partner's pinkie finger to your chest, but here, the knuckles should be glued to your chest for maximum effect.
  • The wristlock is a fan favorite (and the one your partner is likely to like the least). From the same grip you're using to attack the shoulder lock or the straight armbar from earlier, pass your left hand in front of the crook of your partner's wrist, allowing their hand to bend in toward their forearm. Now just attempt to bring your partner's fingers into their forearm, using both hands if needed (once you get the wrist to fold, you can apply pressure with both hands).
  • Omoplata is a simple fourth option for attacking the inside arm. This works best when your partner is hiding their arm downward and under your hip, making the other attacks all but inaccessible. Use best practices when attacking the omoplata, some of which are outlined here.

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All eight

The above video shows all eight submissions, one after the other. The wristlock on the outside arm makes eight, for those of you keeping count. This one's even easier, and works best when your partner isn't paying attention to whether their wrist is bent. If their hand is close to their forearm, you can wristlock them (unless they're extremely flexible, in which case, just move on to the other submissions outlined here). Note that there are at least a few other high percentage attacks from inside the triangle, and this is just an introduction (or reminder) to some of these more common and easy to execute attacks.

About the author
Andrew Smith teaches gi and no-gi seminars across the country, and runs Revolution BJJ in Richmond, VA.

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