Things You Need to Know

This guy doesnt look like he will escape the triangle choke

This guy doesnt look like he will escape the triangle choke

The triangle choke, its quick, effective, simple, versatile, its everything you don’t want a submission being performed on you. This choke is a basic Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu technique that is extremely effective in the mixed martial arts arena and seen very often. This means that a fighter needs to know how to escape one of these submissions rather well if he plans on lasting  at all during grappling.

Triangle Basics

Of course, first and foremost, the best way to defend against this submission is to not fall into it at all during the scramble or a sneaky set-up. The triangle choke is notorious for catching people when their limbs are flailing about when they are on top of an opponent and feeling confident. ALWAYS keep your arms close to your body to avoid getting quickly falling into this choke.

There are some great triangle set-ups that are extremely hard to defend, there are also so many variations that knowing how to defend them all can get very complicated. For example check out this ridiculous spinning triangle choke set up. However in this post defending the triangle choke in the classic full guard position will be covered.

Basic Stack and Turn Escape

After getting his legs around your neck, your opponent needs push his hips up and lock his legs down to complete the choke. Your first priority is to stop him from extending his body and raising his hips. To do this you grasp your hands together and put pressure on your opponents thigh.  Next you stack your opponent, which is driving your shoulders and chest into the opponents body. This stops the choke and limits the opponents motion on bottom as well.

After the choke is momentarily neutralized, escaping the legs is the next priorityt. You want to rotate around your opponent  to the side of opponent with the knee up. As you walk around you want to be in essentially a very low squat position and step your front side leg over the head of the opponent. This should release the opponent’s legs from around you and free you from the submission.

More Creative Escapes

The sit and pry escape works on almost the reverse principle as the stack and turn. As you stack your opponent you bring you legs up close to the hips of the opponent. You then sit your hips down and use your back strength to sit back and break the opponent’s legs from behind your back. This also puts you in a good position if you are good at foot and leg locks

The knee pry escape is another escape that relies on some strength to escape the submission. Instead of stacking your opponent straight on, you roll to the knee up side. From here you pin his leg to your shoulder, using your hands against his knee and quad. Then you drive forward at almost a 45 degree angle to the body of your opponent which breaks his leg lock from behind you.

The neck crank defense is not exceptionally technical but it is exceptionally mean. All you need to do is take your hands and grab the back of the opponent’s head. Next you pull his head up and towards you, putting extreme pressure on the neck and bringing the hurt to your opponent.



NOBODY Wants To Be Injured

Being injured is always a hazard in sports regardless of which sport it may be. And of course no matter how you prepare there will be injuries because of freak accidents or unavoidable situations. Also there is a distinctive difference between being hurt and being injured. Fighting through “hurt” is doable, almost necessary to win any competition; fighting injured can be dangerous to your well being in the long run.

Preventing injury is therefor the best defense against being left unable to train and fight. If you do get injured, HERE are some ways to keep yourself ready for when you return . Below are some of those nasty unavoidable injuries that can happen during competition.

Injuries During Practice and Drilling

Always Stretch on the Beach before some MMA training

I always Stretch in the salt flats before some MMA training

There are also steps that you can take to try to prevent injuries before they happen so that you can avoid as much down time as possible. One should always warm up and stretch before training. Not doing this can lead to strained, pulled, or torn muscles and tendons. 

A pre-workout warm-up literally warms-up the muscles which help them work better in general. Also it helps the blood begin flowing into the muscles and the muscle cells  which allows their metabolism to work and produce usable energy for you during the impending physical  activity.

Stretching is another important pre-workout activity, although it is debated sometimes for sports in general. In mixed martial arts, especially grappling based martial arts, there is a lot of over extension of joints during submissions and weird body positions that one finds themselves in. Stretching prior to working out can help alleviate some of the sudden stresses felt by your tendons, ligaments, and muscles.  Stretching correctly is also important because overstretching can compromise muscle strength.

Live Training Injuries

It is also very important to realize the danger of the sport you are participating in. During training it is not one’s goal to hurt their opponent, but instead to better yourself in preparation for your next actual competition. Some submissions or strikes in mixed martial arts training do carry a degree of danger with them.

Submissions are designed to put pressure on joints to cause great pain; this pain is usually from something in the joint being about to break, tear, pop, etc. This means that when drilling these techniques caution must always be used. This applies when you are first learning the technique and are not familiar with its limits. Also during live training it is necessary to make sure you don’t get carried away or use unnecessary force against a friendly opponent.

In recent years the danger of head injuries has become much more apparent, especially the damage done by concussions. This effects you not only while the concussion symptoms are still present but multiple concussions can seriously affect mental function over time.   While sparring it is important  to wear proper head gear, and possibly try not to hit your sparring opponent with full force, even if he deserves it.

Slams, although cool looking, can be very dangerous in the same way as well. The classic slam can smack the back of the opponent’s head against the floor/mat and not give him any way to protect himself. Therefor they should probably not be drilled at live speed. 

Some Unexpected Advice

REST! Rest is a usually overlooked aspect of avoiding injury. Your body repairs itself while you are asleep. Also extended training puts a lot of stress on your muscles and  tendons, especially at a high level.  If you fail to get enough rest your body may not be able to keep up with repairs and give out on you unexpectedly. So remember always remember to get enough sleep to compliment your hard work.


A Choke from Top Sprawl

The Top Sprawl Position is great for a quick attack of the opponent. There are a lot of options that you can consider when you get into a sprawl with your opponent. In mixed martial arts there is always the option of striking with knees or fists to the face. Or there are submissions like a quick guillotine choke or anaconda choke.

Hatt Hughes submitting Almeida at UFC 117

For something a little different and more of a wrestling move, since you see a lot of jiu-jitsu based submissions, this front headlock choke should be added to your arsenal. Matt Hughes used this choke in a showdown against a jiu-jitsu user Ricardo Almeida to win UFC 117.  It can be quickly applied from the top sprawl position and the grip is very simple to learn.

Setting up from the Sprawl

The sprawl position should be well known to a mixed martial arts fighter because it is so easily fallen into after you avoid a takedown attempt. Or as explained in the video at the bottom of the page, after As your opponent atempts to grab your legs for a takedown you shoot your legs back and drop your hips to the ground to take your legs out of reach. At the same time Your arms are wrapped around the opponent’s chest, one arm over the shoulder and the other under the arm.

This arm position is exactly where you need it to be to complete this front headlock choke. The arm that is above the shoulder is slid through so that the inside of the elbow is tight to the side of the opponent’s neck. Then a palm to palm grip is used and you pull your arms in towards your chest to secure the opponent.

This grip needs to be kept tight to hold the opponent in position because at this point the opponent will know a submission is coming  In this position if you should keep your center of gravity low, base wide, and your chest over the opponent to maintain control over him.  In addition the arm needs to maintain pressure against the opponent’s neck throughout to get the most effective submission.

Knocking Him Out

First the elbow of the non choking arm is clinched into the body. This seriously tightens up the whole choke and pushes your arm into once side of his neck while simultaneously pressing his shoulder into the other side. This cuts off the circulation to the opponent’s head which results in a fast blood choke once sunk in deeply.

To Finish this front headlock choke your head is dropped towards the ground on the non choking arm side. This gives further compression to the whole setup. Then you walk your lower body to that same side that you dropped your head and squeeze the bicep around the opponent’s neck at the same time to get the tightest squeeze on the opponent. From here it wont be long before the opponent starts to see nothing but black.

Here is a video of this technique from start to finish.



How Not to Throw in the Towel

In mixed martial arts a fighter needs to worry about getting submitted just as much as they have to worry about getting knocked out. This is why such a diverse skill set is required to compete in MMA style tournaments.

If you take the fight to the ground in an attempt to either submit or ground and pound an opponent, you must be ready for them to attempt to submit you in the process. Once you start to get caught in a submission attempt, submission defenses can start to get very technical. However, submission defense can be simple if you take precautions and keep yourself well grounded and keep your limbs about you; which is easier said than done when you also have to try and submit or knock your opponent out as well.

Keeping Your Head on Your Shoulders

Knowing how to defend against the guillotine in MMA is really an essential aspect to your game plan. Guillotines can come quickly in a scramble or slowly be set up and executed. Although there are specifics to defending this from different positions, some concepts are consistent throughout.

Your head position can save you from getting guillotined quickly. First and foremost you should try to not let your head slip to one side. A guillotine relies on breaking the head forward to crush the neck against your hand.  Although its almost counter intuitive bulling your neck like a linebacker making a form tackle can stop this as well as increase the likelihood of getting your head out.

Body position is also extremely important. The guillotine choke tries to throw you to one side so that you do not have your center of gravity over the attacker and therefor less control over him. To avoid this an the basic rule is to keep your head and body on opposite sides when rolling with the opponent.

Here is a video with an in depth look at these defenses from various different positions.

The Armbar Defense

The best and easiest way to defend against an armbar is really to avoid letting your arms get away from your body. This really comes in handy when you find yourself in a scramble because a smart opponent will quickly take advantage of appendages flopping in the breeze.

This also needs to be taken into account when attempting to strike an opponent on the ground. Ground and pound seems like an easy way to end a fight.  But a quick submission artist who can take a punch only needs a split second to grab an arm and start to work his triangle hold quickly.

HERE is a link to a site with some more information and a video on defending against the armbar after you have gotten your arm taken.

Getting Out of the Triangle

A slam can be a very effective defense versus the triangle choke if you can do it

The triangle choke can be a difficult submission to escape from. Keeping your arms in tight during scrambles, like defending against an armbar, keeps the opponent from isolating one arm and locking in his legs into position. Also when trapped in the basic triangle setup position, full guard, the sign the triangle is coming is when the opponent  starts trying to trap one leg back to get his leg over.

Once the legs are locked in good behind your back it becomes a countdown until your opponent finagles the choke in tight. Of course you could go Rampage Jackson and full on pick up and then slam the opponent to the ground. But there are also some techniques that you can use to buy time and then quickly get out of the choke. However because of the nature of the submission getting out of this choke is no easy task.

Striking in Combination

It is no surprise that you can’t just throw a punch randomly and expect to hit a skilled opponent. Of course those one shot knockouts have their place and can be deadly if you catch the opponent by surprise. But realistically you can’t rely on that in every fight.

Combination strikes can be used to strike much more effectively. By stringing together certain punches, and not even necessarily landing all the strikes, you can put yourself in a better position for the next hit and  connect clean. This also allows you to generate more power and be more agile in the ring and be less able to be hit by flowing from strike to strike 

Body Shot Combinations

nobody gets that open of a body shot without setting it up with a combo

Combination punches can really help to open up the body for strikes. This also helps because when striking the body you are in close and vulnerable. In addition to this, by setting up the opponent for the body shots with other punches first you can put the opponent in the worst possible position for him for the strike you are about to throw.

By throwing punches at the opponent’s head or face you can make him have to honor your strikes and block. This is the general idea behind the set up for the body strikes because it takes the opponent’s arms away from his ribs.

By striking in succession you can flow with the strikes to load up and generate more power for the final blow at the end of the combination. This can especially be seen in the overhand right combination in the video below. Not only does it put the opponent in a bad spot to strike himself or avoid a strike but it naturally swings your body into the perfect load up for a powerful body hook.

Multi-Strike Combinations

The body shot combinations shown above consisted of two strike combinations. However using many strikes in combination can serve to really keep the opponent on his heels. Although more practice and know how is also needed to know how to flow to what punch next.  Not every strike has to be a knockout punch either. In MMA even quick, less powerful, strikes can do good damage and with the volume of punches in the combination there is a good chance to get the upper hand on your opponent.

However by striking in fluid combinations like this you can generate a lot of power for your final shot. A quick strike  can stun the opponent long enough to follow up with a power strike for a knockout blow. Depending on how many strikes you decide to throw this can be a very good depiction of the saying, “the best defense is a good offense”. 

Combinations With Kicks

Striking combinations do not always have to exclusively consist of punches. Combinations that include kicks can be tremendously effective as well. Strikes to the face can get the opponents arms to block high as well and leave the opponent’s body open for quick powerful kicks. Also a kick can be used to open up a striking combination to stun the opponent before moving in for close range punches, elbows, or knees. For some examples and explanations of striking combinations including kicks CLICK HERE

Or just watch Anderson Silva perform a quick kick combination of his.

Final Word

My motto for striking combinations is “work smart not hard”. You could try and go out there and brute your way through a striking fight. However if you want to pick the opponent apart and not give him opportunities to strike back using effective striking combinations is key.

There are a lot of combinations out there to learn that are great for specific  fighters because the combinations suit a particular fighter’s style. However there is no substitute for some good old trial and error and practice in the ring. You know your own strengths and weaknesses and what combinations feel right, and with enough practice you could start to develop some combinations of your own.




Quick Striking with the Jab

Always keep your off hand up while throwing the jab

The jab can be an extremely effective weapon in a mixed martial arts match, if used correctly. It is not a power strike but instead more of a finesse strike that leads into other things. The jab needs to be used at the right time though because if not it will really be a useless strike. Take down setups, defensive or counter strikes, range finding, and just plain quick strikes are all aspects of a mastered jab.

There are individuals who don’t think the jab is a necessary component of one’s striking game in mixed martial arts. For some more information on this side of the argument CLICK HERE.


The jab is a quick strike that is not meant to knock out an oponent but that doesn’t mean it can’t pack some power behind it.  As you push of your back foot, rotate your shoulders, and snap your arm out in one fluid motion you effectively channel the energy of your whole body quickly into the strike. Also a crucial aspect of any striking in mixed martial arts is to always protect your face with your off hand while striking so you don’t get caught with a quick counter strike yourself. This is a quick video of the steps of a jab by Anderson Silva.

Timing is Everything

The jab just isn’t that knockout punch you can land and end a fight so you really have to pick your time to use it carefully. However depending on how you choose to use the jab it can have different benefits depending on what you need to accomplish.

The jab can be used as a range finding strike that keeps your opponent on his toes and allows you to prepare for strikes or take downs better. This range finder can kill two birds with one stone and be used as a distraction strike too to set up for another striking combination or take down attempt. This is a great example of how the jab can be effective without even needing to strike the opponent.

A strong jab thrown with some intent can be enough to stun an opponent in mixed martial arts This is where the jab in mixed martial arts really differs from that in traditional boxing; which mainly stems from the different gloves. A quick counter jab can stun the opponent long enough to be able to follow up with a powerful strike that will be unavoidable by the opponent. Using the jab in this manner takes great timing and good power behind your strikes but it can be a great way to sneak in a knockout combination in a fight.

Putting It All Together

The jab is a multifaceted striking tool. It takes much practice to know how to effectively take advantage of all the different things that the jab can bring to the table. However, the jab can give you the opportunity to really take control of a standing fight.

The jab is the perfect way to make the opponent have to play your game. With annoying jabs and faux jabs and counter jabbing into different combinations you can really control the standing match in the fight. This will not only get into the opponent’s head but the real advantage is that you control the tempo of the fight. In a real matches this will gain you points but also give you a much better chance for getting a knockout as well.

Float Like a Butterfly

Everybody knows being on the bottom in mixed martial arts is not a very good thing. You can get punched and elbowed and potentially knocked out. Getting comfortable with the butterfly guard in mixed martial arts can give you a good platform to work with when stuck on your back. It gives the opportunity for a ton of sweeps from the bottom along with powerful submissions.

The butterfly guard is really like an alternative to the closed guard position. Where the closed guard allows you to anchor your opponent to you and work from there. In contrast, the butterfly guard is a much more versatile position that allows a more dynamic defensive strategy when on your back. Instead of anchoring your opponent the idea is more to keep the opponent off balance and use that to advance your own position.

There is also another position called the X guard position which is very similar in concept but is utilizes different techniques. Mastering both of these guards can be a deadly combination for mastering the bottom position.

Butterfly Basics

the butterfly guard position

In butterfly guard your two legs are positioned on the inside of your opponent’s thighs. Your feet anchor your legs to your opponent’s body and are used to control their position. Your arms are ideally placed in double underhooks on your opponents arms which gives your tremendous control. However a single underhook is more likely and can still be very effective. Using your feet and arms to control the opponent’s position is crucial for completing techniques from butterfly guard.

Butterfly Guard Sweeps

The butterfly guard can make sweeps very fluid if done correctly. You essentially anchor your opponent to yourself and use yourself as a pivot point making it easy to throw your opponent in a direction of your choosing.

The basic butterfly guard sweep is simple and straight forward as you would expect it to be. This move could be used against larger opponents because of the leverage you have over them from this position. Your arms control his upper body and your legs are used to throw the opponent. In addition to The leverage you have over your opponent, the action of moving around and keeping the opponent off his center of balance helps to throw him to the side.

Another version of this sweep is where instead of throwing the opponent to the side you go directly back over the top with him, which is why its called the over the top sweep. This variation would be especially useful when the opponent pushes back into you after you rock him back, like in MMA if he went for a strike. You can use his momentum against him to put him on his back and take the fight to him.

Butterfly Guard Submissions

Being in butterfly guard give you great opportunities for submissions as well. Its almost like operating out of a closed guard with you legs being free and much easier to use to manipulate your opponent and in submissions like an omoplata or armbar. Also the rocking motion used in the basic sweep can also create enough space to pull your opponent into a deadly guillotine choke. Or using the arm drag from the butterfly you can transition to a d‘arce choke or a rear naked choke