UFC 134 took place in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on the 27th August 2011. It was the first Mixed Martial Arts event that the UFC staged in the country since 1998′s UFC Brazil / UFC 17.5. One of the more interesting fights outside of the main card was the welterweight matchup between Paulo Thiago and David Mitchell.

Besides being an MMA fighter Thiago is also a member of BOPE, the elite SWAT equivalent police force in Brazil that patrols the favelas (the Brazilian shanty towns).

paulo thiago vs david mitchellThe Brazilian special-forces police officer was supposed to fight Johny Hendricks in March but pulled out of the bout due to sustaining an elbow injury. Instead he met Mitchell, a California-based fighter and Tachi Palace Fights veteran who opened his career with an 11-0 record to earn a UFC contract. But in his UFC debut back in September, he suffered his first loss dropping a decision to T.J. Waldburger at UFC Fight Night 22. Mitchell had been slated to fight Mike Swick in January at UFC Fight Night 23, but both fighters pulled out of the event due to sustaining injuries.

Paulo Thiago vs David Mitchell breakdown

Rener and Ryron Gracie break down UFC 134. Firstly they go over the powerful knockouts by Anderson Silva, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and they then dissect some of the superb jiu-jitsu moments that took place in the preliminary match between Paulo Thiago and David Mitchell.

The Guillotine Choke is a choke hold in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and other Martial Arts. The choke is applied to the front of the opponent and it involves using the arms to encircle the opponents neck in a fashion similar to a guillotine, hence the name.

The Guillotine Choke has long since been the death note of wrestlers who carelessly shoot for a takedown against a skilled submission specialists (such as BJJ and Sambo practitioners). The most basic way to describe the choke is you reach around the opponents neck when they are in range, take hold of the choking hand with the free hand and then lift up.

guillotine choke

Jake Shields Guillotining Robbie Lawler

This post is 2100+ words long so I’ve separated it out into logical sections to make it easier to scan through and digest. Also it will help if you want to learn how to get a Guillotine choke from a specific position. Lets get to it…

The Basics Of A Guillotine Choke

A Guillotine Choke can be completed from a number of position including full guard, half guard, butterfly guard, in the sprawl position when someone shoots in and even from standing.

guillotine chokeThe Choke can either be applied to the trachea and is then a wind choke due to restricting air flow to the opponents lungs or a blood choke if the pressure is applied to the arteries in the neck restricting blood flow to the brain. When executed from the ground the person applying the Guillotine will normally close his or her guard (wrap their legs around the opponent) to prevent them from escaping the hold. It is a very effective submission move when performed correctly. The arm is wrapped around the trachea and the hands are clasped together to hold the neck in place. Pressure is applied upwards to restrict blood flow to the brain which will quickly cause unconsciousness if he/she doesn’t tap out.

If you attempt to execute a guillotine on the ground it is preferred by most to pull full guard but I have personally finished them from butterfly guard and half guard. You need a way to keep hold of the opponent with your legs to keep them from moving to side control where the guillotine can’t be finished. My favourite way to attempt getting a guillotine is when an opponent is in your guard try a Kimura on his or her left arm first and when the opponent predictably defends that submission attempt I let go with my right hand and snake it round the opponents neck. Then grab my right wrist with my left hand and lift up. Eventually training partners will get wise to this tactic if you overuse it but it is a good way to learn how to Guillotine an opponent.

If you are having trouble visualising what I mean here are Rener and Ryron Gracie to demonstrate it.

Standing Guillotine Choke

Standing Guillotine ChokeStanding Guillotines work just as effectively. I personally feel it works better if I grab for the choke with my dominant arm (but this could just be down to my own preference so as always experiment), some people are lucky and have arms that are equally strong, but I think they are few and far between. You are more susceptible to being driven back and either loosing your balance or falling on the floor when attempting a standing guillotine. Once you feel stable and on balance clasp your hands together.

From here you can either use good posture to keep it standing, lift up and pull your arms towards yourself and finish the fight there. This works really well it you have long limbs and/or a height and strength advantage. The other option is to jump into guard with the choke applied. You need to make sure you have a tight hold before you try this to prevent your arm slipping off the neck and you landing flat on the floor. It is also possible to be slammed from this position to try and get you off.

Once the fight hits the ground immediately close full guard and perform the Guillotine Choke as described above in The Basics of the Guillotine Choke.

Escaping A Guillotine Choke

guillotine chokeKnowing how to escape a Guillotine choke is just as important as learning how to put one on to an opponent. The best way to defend a Guillotine choke is to never find yourself in one in the first place but failing that here is how to escape one should you inevitably find yourself being choked.

The first thing is to not panic and stiffen up, even if you end up in your opponents full guard. Tightening up will cause you to have to tap out sooner, the more relaxed you are the longer it takes for the choke to take affect. Now place your opposite arm from the side you are being choked on across your opponents shoulder, aim to get it as high as possible. Put pressure on your opponents face with your shoulder (we call this manoeuvre The Shoulder of Justice at my gym). This will help to reduce pressure as they will start to lean away and it will also make them feel uncomfortable which normally causes them to relax their grip around your throat slightly.

Now bring your arm that is on the side that your head is trapped on and dig it elbow first in between your opponents leg and your side. This will open their guard. If it doesn’t you can dig the point of the elbow into their leg (it is legal in bjj albeit rather shady). Once your opponent has released you legs pull the leg that was on the side you just opened over your opponents leg. Free your other leg by sliding it through the same way you did with the other one, you may end up in full mount but you will probably end up in side control. This will now relieve the pressure from the guillotine choke.

You must drill this escape until you can do it quickly without thinking it does not take long for you to be choked out from a guillotine so you need to be swift. Be careful when drilling the escape, although getting choked unconscious doesn’t do any permanent damage it isn’t a pleasant experience at all.

Guillotine Choke From Mount

Ari Bolden from Submissions 101 demonstrates a variation of the Guillotine using only one arm from the mount. His variation is a half choke and half neck crank. You wrap the arm around the neck like a traditional guillotine but instead of grabbing it with your other hand you place the palm of that hand on your belly. You then lift the head to finish the submission and get the tap.

This is similar to the one-arm Guillotine technique that Jake Shields used to submit Nick Thompson in Elite XC. The only difference is Jake didn’t sit up into a kneeling position to finish the choke.

Guillotine from Side Control

Jon Jones Guillotine from side control

Even though I stated earlier in the article that moving to side control (side mount if you live in North America) will help you to escape a guillotine it is completely possible to put a Guillotine onto someone when you have them in side control. Jon Jones used it to finish Ryan Bader at UFC 126 to earn a title shot at Shogun Rua for the Light Heavyweight Championship.

BJJ and no-gi grappling wizard Marcelo Garcia has used the Guillotine from this position with great success, most notably in ADCC. Here is a video of him giving a breakdown of the technique behind the move. I find it very difficult to pull off the submission from this position but if you can master Marcelo’s technique you will catch a lot of opponents off guard, even those more experienced than yourself.

Guillotine from Butterfly Guard

Marcelo Garcia is back again to demonstrate to us how to get a Guillotine choke from the Butterfly Guard. I’ve been able to submit a few guys using the Guillotine from butterfly guard but I’ve never tried flattening them out like Marcelo does. I can see that working a lot better than what I’ve been doing myself up until now.

My version involves getting both butterfly hooks in, then wrapping an arm around the opponents neck. Once I feel like I’ve got it in properly I grab the choking arm with my other hand. Then in one fluid motion I sit back while simultaneously lifting the forearm of my choking arm to finish the submission and make them tap. I should stress that it doesn’t work 100% of the time but I have caught a few opponents with it before because they don’t expect for someone to attempt that submission from the butterfly position.

Marcelo’s version differ from mine in that he first outs his opponent off balance to make them post an arm to save themselves and lower their hips to prevent themselves from being swept. Once he has this he quickly sits up and wraps an arm around the neck of the opponent. Now his choking arm is round the neck and he is sitting upright. The other hand sits on top of the head to keep the opponent head down so they can’t start to stand up. Then Marcelo moves the other hand and grabs the choking arm, then he uses the elbow from that arm and puts it on top of the opponents shoulder. This stops your opponent from moving closer to your body to make it harder to get the choke. Then it’s just a matter of squeezing and the submission will be yours.

Guillotine After An Opponent Shoots in for a Takedown

Robson Moura is one of the best BJJ competitors on the planet. In the below video he is demonstrating a variation on getting a guillotine when an opponent shoots in to try and take you down. I really like how he clears the arm at 4:20 to make it easier for him to pull guard and make it harder to defend. You should also note how he uses his shoulder to push the opponents head down to finish the choke instead of stretch the arms and legs out like a lot of BJJ guys do (which can give the opponent chance to escape by popping their head out of the hold if they or you are sweaty).

Guillotine Sweep to Mount

It is possible to use the Guillotine as a way of sweeping as a way of sweeping your opponent so you end up on top in mount. I like to attempt to put a Guillotine on and when my opponent goes to defend it I put the right butterfly hook in and lift my right leg while learning slightly to my left to off balance them. I don’t always end up in mount doing this, normally side control but it works for me a high percentage of the time.

In the below video Jake Shields with the help of Caio Terra demonstrate how to perform a Guillotine sweep and end up in full mount (from 1:11 onwards). Caio also shows a Guillotine choke variation from full guard (at the beginning of the video). I like Jake’s version a lot better than my own, but I don’t have great flexibility in my legs to it may be difficult for me to put that hook because even Jake seemed to struggle the second time he demonstrated it.

If you attempt the Guillotine and your opponent starts to stack up to defend the choke firstly open your guard. Get one butterfly hook in on the arm over side. Sweep the opponent over because the act of stacking will make it easier to put him off balance. Then post with the non Guillotine arm and cross your feet for stability to stop your opponent from quickly reversing the position before you get your bearings. Finally finish the Guillotine if you can. If not go for another submission like a Kimura.


I sincerely hope you found this article interesting and useful. I would love to hear if you have tried any of the techniques in this post (even if you couldn’t quite get them to quite work) please leave me a comment and let me know what you think or if you know any other cool Guillotine variations that I haven’t mentioned here.

I would also love to hear if you have any ideas how I can improve these articles so please leave me a comment if you have any tips or suggestions.

As always thank you for your support cheers!

Multiple time BJJ and Submission Grappling world champion Marcelo Garcia shows Stephan Kesting how to do the North South Choke correctly so you can easily finish an opponent. I’ve been doing BJJ and MMA for about 18 months now and I’ve never actually attempted one of these moves even though I end up in a position to attempt one almost every class. I’m going to give this a try on Monday and see if I get get it to work.

If you have no idea who Marcelo Garcia is here’s his highlight video…

Marcelo Garcia Highlights

Reilly Bodycomb demonstrates how to perform a Sambo single Leg Takedown. I know they are wearing GI Jackets in this clip so you might think that it’s useless for MMA but if you switch the collar grip for an underhook the technique wil work just as well for Mixed Martial Arts and No-Gi grappling.

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