On Second Thought

Published on
Updated on
2 minute read

I’ve been thinking a bit more about guillotine chokes these days, partly in relation to my previous post.

In my early years of BJJ, I avoided learning much about guillotine chokes and Kimura. I suppose it’s because I was often on the receiving end of guillotine chokes and Kimura that were done incorrectly but still worked due to the size/strength difference.

Sure, probably my defensive skills were shit as well, but it’s traumatizing enough when bigger, stronger opponents go for a guillotine choke variation or Kimura and tap you out. You think… well, that was more of a crank/brute force, and there wasn’t much technical about it.

But the thing is, it doesn’t mean guillotine chokes and Kimura are power moves that involve zero finesse. Both of them can (and should) be done correctly and ultra-effective as a submission and a controlling position.

Now, if you ask 39 Kimura experts about how they finish their opponents with Kimura, probably all of them will give you the same answer. There may be slight variations in their grips, but I imagine the discrepancy between each variation is pretty small.

However, if you ask 39 guillotine choke experts, you will probably get 39 different answers on how they finish their opponents with their favorite guillotine chokes. Roughly, though, you have arm-in or no-arm guillotine chokes, and within no-arm guillotine, you have high-elbow and low-elbow variations. There’s an arm-in guillotine variation called Hingertine, which Josh Hinger from ATOS uses. I’m sure there are all sorts of other guillotine variations out there.

I mainly use arm-in guillotine as a controlling position before switching to d’arce or sweeping my opponent, but I’m not good at the actual finish with arm-in guillotine. I’ve had some success with Hingertine… I feel like it’s not a super clean choke, though. If I want to get a quick finish, I prefer to use the Marcelo Garcia style high-elbow guillotine choke.

While I do more guillotine chokes than before, I haven’t worked on refining my guillotine choke skills.

If you want to do guillotine chokes properly (it doesn’t matter which variation), I think they are generally quite challenging to learn, especially the arm-in guillotine variation. For most people, I bet it takes a lot of time to get the guillotine mechanics right.

But contrary to what I may have thought in my early days of BJJ, I believe guillotine chokes are versatile and give you great rewards if you learn to do them properly… again, especially the arm-in guillotine variation.

While you should work on solid takedown skills, having guillotine chokes as your attacking options means you have basically eliminated single leg & double leg takedowns off of your opponent’s arsenal. Going for a single/double leg takedown against you will mean a pure suicide attempt.

This is not meant to be a technical analysis of guillotine chokes, but instead… an invitation to consider adding at least one guillotine choke variation to your game, especially if you haven’t worked on guillotine chokes much for whatever reason.

I will be working more on guillotine chokes for sure.

If you already use guillotine chokes, what are your favorite variations?