Invisible BJJ Details: Tips on the Palm Up Palm Down Cross Collar Choke

I covered for Martyn last night, coaching both the Fundamentals and Advanced BJJ sessions. I had planned the first to evolve around the art of getting a deep cross collar grip and the options that that can present (chokes, armbar, back take...etc.) and the second session around preventing stalling in a competition scenario. The second session was hard physically. Very hard, actually. One of our blue belts is competing at the Gracie Invitational this weekend and I had designed that session with him in mind, but I will get back to that in another post.

The first session covered details that you don’t usually see and it was inspired by a quote from John Will’s blog: “Notice what no one else notices and you’ll know what no one else knows.

There are very few secret moves in BJJ / Grappling nowadays. The real secret is and will always be in your application of the moves and your commitment to the level of detail. The Cross Choke from guard is a great example because when done correctly (with three rotations/shrimp movements and the correct wrist action) it will go on so fast, you’ll tap before you even realise you’re tapping. When done with any less than 100% commitment to the technique, it can still work (of course it can – it’s a choke and even a heavy shoulder bag can choke you!) but it will need a lot of muscle and much longer to set in.

It took me at least 20 minutes of repetitions to convince the whole group of exactly how deep I wanted the first hand needs to go into the collar. I mention that for two reasons:

1. They all saw me demonstrate the move a number of times and they all understood what I was saying, but they had probably seen the move so many times before that their eyes were on autopilot. I had to go around to each training pair and say: “Good. Now push that hand at least 2 more inches in. Crunch up and push that hand in and behind their neck”

2. I don’t remember this level of detail being shown to me in a BJJ / Grappling class. If it was, it wasn’t afforded the time it needed to sink into my slow brain. I had to re-learn this choke by rewinding matches and digging into lots of DVDs until I found it and I’m sure that this is the situation for most players.

The way BJJ / Grappling classes are taught at most schools nowadays*, everybody wants at least 3-4 moves from the instructor or they tell you that the class was boring. Well I can put my hand on heart and tell you that when we rolled in the second hour, every single one of those white and blue belts had a much deeper** and more threatening Cross Collar Choke. They learnt something so well that they could apply it successfully in the same day.

Look for the invisible detail. When you find it, drill it against progressive resistance. That’s the easiest and fastest way to gain a deeper understanding of the BJJ / Grappling game.

*Carlos Valente, 6th degree black belt under Rickson Gracie, talked about this in a great interview on the Fightworks Podcast back in 2006.

**Stephan Kesting lays down the law on deep collar grips in this excellent and concise article.

----Did You Like This Article?--- Click here to add The Part Time Grappler to your Favourites / Bookmarks ---------------------------------


Meerkatsu said...

Oooh like the new gritty header image!

I find the best seminars are the ones where the instructor shows very few moves, like Roy's at the weekend or Otavio Sousa last year. These sessions were like 3-4 hours long but covered myabe 4-5 techniques in extreme detail.

Money's worth? Most definitely.

For day-to-day lessons, about three techniques is about the optimum for me. But then owing to my length of service, at least 2 of those will be ones I've drilled before so those are more revision for me. A newbie may have a different perspective on this.

The Part Time Grappler said...

Thanks for the compliments :)

While I do agree with you on everything you say, I still feel like anytime we repeat something, even if it's the 30th time since I started jits, that I learn new things.

I still feel like a newbie to every single position and move in BJJ, in one way or another.

For example, one of my favourite techniques is holding mount. It's something I've been working the past 2 years and it's getting to a nice level. Don't get me wrong, some do escape but after using a hell of a lot of energy compared to the very little I use to keep it.

Last year I visited my old Karate club in Gothenburg, and I was showing a couple of things to my friends. This new guy walk up and were chatting. He asks me to show on him. I didn't realise it then but he was a youth-national team member in wrestling in his native Bulgaria. The way that guy did Upa just frikking threw me out, full pun intended. Needless to say, I stayed training Upa and mount retention for about 45 minutes until I figured it out.

That's what I love about being a slow never get's old for me :)

A.D. McClish said...

I am one of those people who hasn't learned to sink the choke deep enough. If I don't get that first hand in deep enough, the choke becomes exactly what you described: a muscly tug of war. Me vs. Some Man's Neck. Needless to say, when that happens, I usually can't finish it.

Part of the reason I haven't done well at sinking the choke is that I'[m in too much of a hurry. I want to get the choke before they realize what I am doing and defend it. But what good is snatching a choke if you can't finish it?

Lately, I've been trying to be sneakier. Go for something else which makes them drop their arm away from their neck. If I get that "something else", great. If not, then I real quick slip my other hand in deep. Then I have to work some more trickery for the other side. Takes longer, but I've actually finished some chokes in the last few weeks so that must count for something.

I agree with you about having fewer techniques and more drilling per class. It is cool to see variations of the same concept, but I would rather have the time to really get one move down.

The Part Time Grappler said...

Thank you Allie. Yes exactly, you need to be sneaky. Let me help you with the whole being in a hurry thing:

Next time you find yourself in guard, make the decision to spend the next 240 seconds on JUST getting a deep first hand. That's 4 minutes hun. That's a loooong time. You can be sneaky, get an inch or two, then fiddle with their pant leg with the free hand, pretend to wiggle for a sweep, hug them...all the time you are climbing that first hand half an inch at a time. 240 sec. 1 mississippi, two mississippi, three mississippi. It's a looong time so don't rush. You have no other objectives for the full 240 sec. Do you know why?

Because when you're done, that baby is gonna be so dangerous, you'll not need more than 2 more mississippi to finish your choke on the biggest meanest man-neck :)

LEt me know how it goes.

Jason ( said...

That is funny! We both posted something at the same time that was so close. Hey Liam! I need a picture of you in your wild socks doing the go-go like you talked about.

The Part Time Grappler said...

I know! How bizarro :)

I will get that pic to you as soon as I can my friend :)

The Part Time Grappler said...

I know! How bizarro :)

I will get that pic to you as soon as I can my friend :)