Triangle Choke

Options from the Ground

Last week we talked about the option of performing a kimora from the ground. To add to our arsenal of techniques that we can  perform from the ground, this week we will be looking at the triangle choke. This technique is the first leg lock technique I will be exploring on here, but there are many others.

When we performed the kimora, we were actively aggressing at the opponent hoping to force them into the kimora or to catch them off guard. With the triangle choke, most of the setup is done by the opponent unsuspectingly. This is something you will catch an untrained attacker or an inexperienced fighter with, but is going to be a lot harder to perform on a veteran fighter who will work to prevent you from doing this.

Grab Your Leg

In the video I explain that you need to grab onto your own ankle before throwing the opposite leg over. This is a technique that will help you as work to get comfortable with the technique. It is not necessary, but makes the whole move a lot easier. If you are going up against a larger opponent or someone a bit more experienced, then grabbing your own ankle will help you trap them while you work to get the other leg into position.

Importance of Pulling the Head

At the end of the move I talked about pulling the head down. This is what leads to a blood choke rather than just an air choke. Your legs wrapped around your opponents neck is a great way to cut off the air and make it very uncomfortable for them. Pulling the head down on the other hand is how you cut off the blood flow on both sides of their neck and either make them tap or pass out.

Prevent Breathing Room

Continuing the idea of cutting off the blood flow – your opponent is going to be working as hard as they can to get their other hand/arm inbetween your legs to create space and breathing room. Don’t let them do that!

If you find yourself trying to do this technique and they have both arms on the inside, it is probably better to release your legs, put them back into your guard and then move onto another move or wait for them to give you a better opportunity to do the triangle choke. Simply squeezing harder is only going to tire you out and at best cut off their air (which sounds good, but could take 2-4 minutes depending on how long they can hold their breath and how tight you squeeze).


This is a blood choke similar to the rear naked choke or the side choke. When your opponent taps you need to let go immediately. If you sense them fighting it and going pale, just be very careful and let go if they start zoning out on you. Sparring is about having a good time and getting comfortable with the techniques. Check your ego at the door and don’t hurt yourself trying to fight it past a reasonable point.


I know we have some Judo, Jujitsu, and MMA readers, along with a lot of experienced grapplers of every style – do you guys and gals have some fun variations of this move you like to do? Do you think there is a better way to do this? Let us all know so everyone can learn from your experience.

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Theodore Kruczek is the founder and head writer of the Okinawan Karate-do Institute. He is a 4th Degree Black Belt in Okinawan Shorin-ryu with more than 14 years of experience. This site was created as his way of both teaching his own Karate and learning about others.

Comments (2)

  1. Some tips you might want to try out and play with:
    - Crunching your top leg and squeezing the knees together will add even more pressure and help obtain the submission

    - if their head is not directly facing you, you can still obtain a tight choke by pulling their head down so that the chin is being pushed towards the throat.

    - If the submission just isn’t working, try rotating your body so that your body is parallel with the trapped arm, and the head is in the same direction as their trapped hand. This creates a different angle, which helps the squeeze.

    Great article and video!

  2. Avatar image

    A good thing to remember is that the triangle choke (sankaku jime) applies pressure on all three sides of the triangular structure it creates. That means that the choke can be applied from a variety of positions. You can apply it from a mounted position, an inverted position, or from the back (either standard, mounted, or inverted).

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