Triangle Maintenance - Dealing With the Hand in the Collar: A BJJ Tutorial

Updated on April 4, 2020
revolutionbjj profile image

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

Opponent caught in a triangle.
Opponent caught in a triangle. | Source

The "Hand in the Collar" Pass

You've set up a textbook triangle choke, and you're all set to finish the triangle on your (possibly much larger) opponent. Unfortunately, your opponent has other plans. They reach their free hand into your collar, thumb up, not only bearing down considerable weight on your neck but also torquing your hips out of alignment with your shoulders, making it virtually impossible to hold on to the triangle. Even worse, your guard is now child's play to pass!

Here are three ways to deal with this guard pass, all centered on a very simple concept you can internalize right away. This can help you quickly turn the tables on a much bigger, stronger guard passer, or, at the very least, frustrate them to no end. For more technical options to escape the triangle, visit here.

The "Elbow Push"

Here's the first technique at its core, and one you absolutely have to be good at if you're going to prevent this very common guard pass (and you're not insanely flexible). Your partner is going to be reaching their hand into your collar, attempting to bring your knee to your nose. This immediately threatens your hip/shoulder alignment, as mentioned previously, but also can result in your spine being stacked on itself, all while you're being choked!

Trying to attack this at the hand of your opponent is futile, as their leverage is going to be far too great. However, there's a very simple solution to this: push up on their elbow. This will instantly take your opponent's pressure away while compromising their base. Once you've gotten the elbow up, it is easy for you to sit up and scoot away, creating the space you need to fully recover your guard. Remember, this might just create enough space for you to put into practice some of the guard maintenance concepts, but that's all you need to survive here.

Following Up on the Elbow Push With a Finish or Two

Here's a nice bonus when you do the "elbow push" escape: sometimes, you can actually finish the triangle choke with the same beginning motion, as opposed to simply escaping as your opponent tries to pass. Once you've used a great set up to catch that triangle, one escape your opponent might try is the "hand in the collar" pass, and you're already going to be conditioned to go straight to the "elbow push" defense. Because your opponent's base is so compromised while you're pushing up on the elbow, and if they are unable to open up the triangle this time, you can often force their posture down enough to tighten the triangle sufficiently for the quick tap. Note: if they hold on for long enough, they may also feel a shoulder lock on the arm that is grabbing the collar (although all they have to do to prevent this is to let go, they might not necessarily be aware of this in the moment, so be careful). Remember, these alternative finishes from the triangle will still apply.


The "Hip Lift" Detail

If your opponent reaches behind your head instead of grabbing inside the collar, this makes things much easier for you, as you can immediately attack for the reverse armlock (as shown during the first ten seconds of the video). However, assuming your opponent goes back to the hand in the collar pass, if they have gotten good at nullifying your counters from here, the first thing they're going to do is to bury their elbow into your hip, making it really hard to push their elbow up, as we did in the previous two techniques.

The solution requires just a hair of timing. Lift your hips up high, and as they are about to drop back down, replace them with your hand as the thing that's holding their elbow up. Now you have managed to wedge your hand under the elbow, and you are in business. Because your hips are up already, it is going to be easier for you to grab your shin and make your final adjustment on the triangle choke finish. Remember: the finish is going to be quick once you have the figure four locked with your legs, as your partner has already committed their arm across their neck during the pass.

Favorite Alternate Finish from the Triangle

See results

Last Thoughts

While a bigger person doing the "hand in the collar" triangle escape (and subsequent guard pass) can seem impossible to stop, with a few of the above simple tricks, especially the "elbow push," you can prevent your guard from being passed, eventually finishing a much higher percentage of triangles you go for. You might want to consider some of the overhook triangle setups as well, effectively eliminating the "hand in the collar" before it begins, but sometimes you're not going to have much of a choice in the matter.

Let us know what you think of the tutorial, and if you've had any success with the moves!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)