Brabo Choke Tutorial
The gi brabo choke has a number of different varieties, but they tend to have one thing in common: they all sort of suck for the person on the receiving end. Here, we'll look at a sequence that will help you set up your brabo choke series, with the fundamentally important concept of continuing to look for a better position while looking for the submission. This cornerstone of advanced jiu jitsu is nowhere more obvious or ripe for the taking, and we'll explore this via the knee cut guard pass coupled with the brabo choke series.
Option 1: Baseball
One good place to begin this sequence (although not the only available spot) is half guard top. Begin by untucking your partner's lapel from their belt (assuming the belt hasn't already come off during training!). Use this grip to pin your partner down so that you can set the rest of the series up. It's not unreasonable to think of the lapel as a pseudo-underhook of sorts. Start by feeding the lapel from your right hand to your left (assuming your left leg is trapped in half guard), and then use this grip as a crossface, helping to keep your partner completely flat. Use this pressure to execute a fairly basic half guard pass, and then keep the grip so that you can transition to a baseball choke for the finish.
If you begin as before, flattening your partner out via the lapel grip, your partner will often deliberately make it very difficult for you to get to your next steps. One way to do this is to block the crossface, making both the pass and finish from earlier all but impossible. Use this opportunity to swim your right arm inside while they are focused on blocking your left (crossfacing) arm. Grab the lapel underneath their neck tightly, meaning that you might need to switch your hips forward, like a kesa gatame. This is a great opportunity to posture up with your hips, too, since your partner isn't likely to be able to follow you well due to your upper body control. This will lead nicely to a knee cut guard pass, facilitating an even deeper grip with your right arm. Finally, finish a classic X-choke from knee on stomach position or side control (your preference).
Brabo of Brabos
When, in the course of the previous technique, your partner does not allow you to grip the finishing lapel or shoulder for the X-choke finish, remember that you still have that first deep lapel grip. This is the time to transition to the brabo of all brabos. As they reach across to defend the cross choke, drag their arm across their chest (you can either grip their sleeve to pull, or you can grab their elbow/triceps area, which is my personal preference). Drop your weight down onto your partner's triceps or shoulder, and you can facilitate the horrible choke finish by hugging your partner's head or back, as shown in the video.
Which Brabo Finish?
This choke has been in the game in America since at least the early 2000s, when it became effective both from half guard top (and the knee cut position) and from the closed guard, including the ability to set up armbars from the guard. Although it isn't as commonly used in sport BJJ today, that's simply because there are so many other options available. The brabo continues to be a viable technique at all levels of competition, from white to black, and a personal favorite for many who otherwise struggle with gi chokes. The brabo is incredibly powerful.