Sneaky Cross Choke From Open Guard for BJJ

Updated on April 7, 2020
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Andrew Smith is a 3rd-degree BJJ black belt based out of Richmond, VA (Revolution BJJ). He runs BJJ Path, a video tutorial website.

Being Sneaky

Often times in jiu-jitsu, you get good at a move, hit it on all of your training partners of equal or lower rank than you (maybe even some higher ranked folks too, if you've got something really good), and life is dandy for a while. Then it happens: Your training partners figure out how to stop you from playing your game. This is where subterfuge and transitions come in to play. Instead of trying to impose your game onto your training partners, consider tricking them into playing the game you want to play instead.

This tutorial explores a way to trick someone into giving you their neck for a choke, along with the mechanics of the choke and lots of tips and tricks.

The Bait

Butterfly guard is a classic starting position for this technique, although there are other scenarios where you can definitely hit this move. Begin with your right hand deep in your partner's collar (as opposed to classic underhooks or overhooks). Now, step your left leg out from inside your partner's guard, effectively accepting a half guard (oftentimes, butterfly guard is considered a step up from half guard, so people will usually accept this maneuver). The advantage here: You've set the bait for your partner, who now believes they can pass your guard to your left (after all, there's no butterfly hook there anymore). Nevertheless, they absolutely will be able to get to your half guard.

Here's where knowing what your partner is likely to do comes in handy. In order to pass your half guard, they are likely to need to bring their head over to the other side of your body (this applies to the hip-switch method as well). This will give you the opportunity to finish the choke with the second hand (same principles as the cross choke from the mount).

Closing the Choke

It is important that you don't allow your partner to pass your guard completely, or else they're very likely to be able to defend the X-choke. To prevent this, be sure to engage your half-guard hook after the initial bait. Once you get good at locking your partner in here, you're likely to be able to help guide their head all the way to the mat on your left side (remember, that's the direction they're already heading in anyway). This will make finishing the choke considerably easier, as you can bring your elbows together to cut the blood flow off completely, and your partner's defense is likely to be ineffective.


Be sure that your first hand is in there deep, not at all like a loop choke or simple shallow collar grip. One way to make sure you're in the right place when you're first getting used to doing the X-choke is to grab your partner's tag on top of their collar with your four fingers as you insert them to make your grip. If your partner "wises up" and figures out that you might be going for a choke, this might cause them to become hesitant to bring their head across to the other side. This really isn't much of a problem, because you can generally wait for them to move their head back over there (it's generally much more of a stall tactic than an effective way to pass). Finally, if you need to finish the choke sooner rather than later, you can simply bump your hips up, which temporarily disconnects your partner's head from your chest, which should allow plenty of room to get that second hand in under your partner's chin.

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© 2017 Andrew Smith


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