BJJ Basics: How To Do The Perfect Guillotine Choke

By January 1, 2014November 9th, 2021No Comments
guillotine choke in BJJ

Today, we’re going to discuss one of the most fundamental chokes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the Guillotine Choke.  We’re going to look at the basic execution of the guillotine choke as well as some of the most common mistakes BJJ beginners make when attempting the guillotine choke.

A common mistake with the Guillotine choke occurs when people apply the choke with the large meaty portion of their forearm close to the elbow. This may work, but you’ll be using far too much strength to get the tap.

Instead, slide the elbow back – not out, as this will create space and your training partner may be able to pop his head out.

Clap tight along his ear like you are sandwiching his head between your elbow and your ribcage.

Bring your wrist – the part of your forearm where your wristwatch would sit – and pull that portion of your arm into his neck Using your wrist to apply the Guillotine will allow you to apply force to your training partner’s neck more directly.

There’s too much padding at the base of your forearm; and thus, force will not be transmitted directly into his trachea.

Whenever you do a Guillotine Choke from the Guard, you need to shrug your shoulder so that your shoulder is over your training partners neck.

A common mistake is to have your shoulders back and have your chest proud when going for the Guillotine Choke.

If you do this, then your training partner’s head will pop out and he’ll easily escape the choke.

Bring your shoulder forward, hunch your back, and get heavy on your training partner’s neck.  Try and bring your hands to your shoulder to squeeze his neck and stretch him out with your guard.

Half Guard is a fantastic way to finish the Guillotine Choke.

If you have the correct leg, I believe it is the strongest bottom position to finish the Guillotine Choke with.

If you have the wrong leg; however, then it is an easy escape for your training partner. When you are attacking with the Guillotine Choke and you have his head on your left side, a common mistake is to control his right leg with your Half Guard.

This is dangerous because it allows your training partner to pass to Top Cross Side.

When you are controlling his head on your left side, try tying up his left leg with your Half Guard.  From here, it’s very difficult for him to establish a strong, stable position to pass your Guard with.

And if he tries to pass your half guard, if you have a strong control of his neck with the Guillotine Choke, you can sweep him just by applying pressure with the Guillotine.  Typically, he’ll fall from his top position to alleviate the pressure and prevent getting tapped out.

Many BJJ students will see the opportunity to attack with the Guillotine Choke from many different positions: Butterfly Guard, Top 4 Point, or while defending a Double Leg Takedown.

BJJ practitioners, however, fail to lock their hands together before they fall down into Guard.

The flaw that we are addressing comes when you see the neck open for a Guillotine, you wrap his neck up with one arm and then you fall back into Full Guard or Half Guard without first securing the second hand. Almost always, this causes your training partner’s head to pop out and you’ve lost the submission.

Secure the neck with both hands and then fall back into guard and your success rate when hitting the Guillotine Choke will go up.

When you are fighting from the Closed Guard and you are looking to attack with a Guillotine Choke, you need to sit up and create space from your hip to his hip, and sit almost like you would from Butterfly Guard.

This is important since you need to create space to place both your hands over his shoulders to secure the Guillotine Choke.

If you are lying down in the Closed Guard, it is almost impossible to wrap your arm around his neck for the Guillotine Choke without sitting up, and in order to sit up you must untie your Closed Guard, put your feet on the ground and bring your hips back far from your opponent’s hips.

Even if your training partner has his posture down and for whatever reason he has his head to one side of your torso and his forehead to the mat, you might think you can attack with a Guillotine Choke from here since it is easy for you to reach over his neck and secure the first hand for the choke; but, it is nearly impossible to secure the second hand because his shoulder is buried tight to your chest.

The Guillotine Choke is one of the most fundamental attacks in BJJ.  I hope this article sheds new light on the Guillotine Choke for new and for advanced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners a like.

Ritchie Yip

Ritchie Yip

Ritchie Yip is the Head Instructor for InFighting Training Centers located in Downtown Vancouver and Brentwood Burnaby. InFighting Training Centers offers programs in Kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Bootcamp Conditioning Classes and Personal Training